KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs ran out to a lead last Sunday, withstood a run then rebuilt the lead buoyed by Chargers’ mistakes, then withstood a run rebuilt the lead again buoyed by Chargers’ mistakes.
Yes, it’s kind of been that way for nine straight games against the Chargers, but this might have been the biggest and best execution of that pattern of them all.
Sure, it was the first game of the year and any loss can be overcome and any win can be screwed up during the 16 weeks of football left to play, but the Chiefs had so much more on the line in this one.
Let’s first dispense of the obvious: It was a division win.Next, let’s blow through the “obviouser”: It was on the road.
Division wins on the road are almost like 2.5 wins, because:
1) It’s a win;
2) It’s a tie-breaker in case you, ya know, tie record-wise;
3) It stands to reason that if you beat at team on the road, your odds of beating them at home go way up.
So, there you go. The Chiefs are 2.5-0! But wait, there’s more — like the opponents the Chiefs begin the season against.
It’s a monster stretch of games for Kansas City — hint: It’s not Bengals, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals — but rather at the Chargers, at the Steelers, home against the 49ers, at the Broncos, home against the Jags, and at the Patriots.
Two division road games. Two home games against a couple of the NFL’s best up-and-coming teams. Two road games against AFC royalty.
Go 4-2 in that stretch and you feel like Super Bowl champs. Go 3-3 and you still feel good about yourself. But 2-4 (or worse) would be expected of most NFL teams.
At that point, much of your season is over — 37.5 percent to be exact! — and a bad start in those six games could wreck you.
But a good start can make you, especially considering the Chiefs could play only two playoff contenders during their last 10 games.
The Chiefs just got a good start toward reaching a, um, good start to the season.
Beating a team on the road that most people expect to win the division and, just like that, they can absorb at loss Pittsburgh and/or a defeat in New England.
At the very least, beating the Chargers on the road allows the Chiefs to play looser going into Pittsburgh this Sunday — a needed approach considering they’ve lost to the Steelers six out of the last seven times.
Added confidence after a win instead of added desperation following a loss and, all of the sudden, maybe the Chiefs eek out one of those next five games that they would have otherwise lost.
By my math, which is always airtight, that win over the Chargers is probably good enough to lead to one more victory in this opening stretch which makes the Chiefs … 3.5-0!
What a start to the season! And in just one week! But we’re not done.
Patrick Mahomes did the impossible Sunday. He lived up to the hype.
Four touchdown passes? (And don’t give me the “Two were basically handoffs” line. Other QBs run that play too and still get credit for it.)
Beating one of the better teams in the conference?
Winning in the toughest soccer stadium in the league?
Think what those accomplishments have done for Pat’s confidence. I mean, the Chiefs went 30 years without having a drafted quarterback win a game for them.
Now, Mahomes hasn’t lost a game. (2-0, baby!)
He’s done a complete 180 for one of the most embarrassing streaks in football. That added swag is worth at least half a game down the road … 4-0!
Sure, the Chiefs have a first-place schedule, but only six of their opponents won in Week 1. It’s getting easier … 5-0!
Le’Veon Bell’s not playing … 5.5-0!
Eric Berry will eventually play … 6-0!
Okay, we’re done here. The absurdity is over. The Chiefs may have gained extra mojo, motivation, want-to, drive, incentive, belief, faith, conviction, et al after Week 1.
They may have just gained a simple win.
Whatever intangible number is in that win column can be disputed, but the 0 in the loss column cannot.