The Kansas City Chiefs have been a historic disaster in the NFL playoffs. On Saturday, they have an opportunity to change their narrative.
I can’t express the horror. The sheer, unadulterated terror that comes with rooting for the Chiefs come January.
Sure, you can look up the history. Since winning Super Bowl IV, Kansas City has reached the AFC Championship Game once. The Chiefs have won two playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium in eight tries, including a current six-game losing streak. Here’s how those losses happened…
1995 – The top seed. Eight-point favorite. Three missed field goals. Loss to Colts, 10-7.
1997 – The top seed. 13-3. Missed field goal. Controversial touchdown taken away. Loss to Broncos, 14-10.
2003 – Second seed. 13-3. Scored 31 points. Forced zero punts. Loss to Colts, 38-31.
2010 – AFC West champs. Matt Cassel throws for 70 yards. Loss to Ravens, 30-7.
2016 – Second seed. Score two touchdowns and allow none. Loss to Steelers, 18-16.
2017 – AFC West champs. Lead 21-3 at halftime. Allow 19 straight points. Loss to Titans, 22-21.
All of these losses are intertwined with a 2013 loss to the Colts, when the Chiefs allowed the second-largest comeback in playoff history. A 38-10 lead in the third quarter. A 45-44 defeat.
You might notice two themes. One, the Chiefs suck in the playoffs, regardless of roster or coach. Two, almost half of those losses came to Indianapolis.
The Colts have been a special part of Kansas City’s postseason hell, serving up four losses (there was one win 2006, too) in the last 23 years. Most times, as outlined above, it’s been in epic fashion.
Now the two teams meet again. One city and its fans are extremely hopeful and confident. The other fanbase has a large section of people who feel only the worst can come on Saturday afternoon.
I know, because I’m one of them. It’s a miserable existence rooting for a team that is good enough to provide dreams, but useless enough to turn them into nightmares.
The Chiefs will sell this year being different, and in some ways, it is. They’ve never had Patrick Mahomes before, who after throwing for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, is a near lock for MVP. Mahomes changes what is possible with a litany of arm angles, no-look passes and an infectious swagger that permeates both teammates and fans.
For years, Kansas City has needed to play perfect around its quarterback to win in the postseason. That’s no longer the case.
Still, everything said about this year being different is a bill of goods until is actually proven to be true. The Chiefs have earned this paranoia and fear through decades of debacles. I can promise you that every Kansas City fan, including this one, will be watching this game with a pit in their stomach and a persistent, unshakable thought: how are they going to lose this time?
Make no mistake, the Chiefs are the better team in their upcoming game. They have a generational offense, the league MVP and a coach who needs one ring for the Hall of Fame. The defense stinks something fierce, but they led the league in sacks (52) and are +8 in the turnover ratio. Indianapolis can’t match them in most areas, including roster talent.
Kansas City is also at home, coming off a bye, and is expected to be healthier than at any other point this season.
And none of it matters. Until the Chiefs finally change the narrative and win when it counts, nobody reasonable will care about all the advantages. It’s all nice to talk about, but there is no comfort in the numbers.
Come Saturday, Kansas City will pack Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs will take the field to an enormous roar. The sound will be born of pleading more than anything else.
We’ll see if this time, the Chiefs finally answer those desperate pleas.