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This Is Why They, You Know, Play The Games

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Kansas City Chiefs are off to a 3-0 start, which is better than anyone predicted. Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images.
Kansas City Chiefs are off to a 3-0 start, which is better than anyone predicted. Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images.

Thursday’s matchup revealed just how quickly fortunes can change in the NFL. And the perils of issuing quick judgments about teams.

A year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were 2-14 and woeful on both offense and especially defense. A year after that wretched campaign, they have a new coach, Andy Reid; a new quarterback, Alex Smith;  and an undaunting schedule.

Sure, beating the toothless Jaguars was no great feat, but they followed this with a home win against the Cowboys and a victory in Philly. They should contend for a wild-card berth even if they’re not good enough to beat the Broncos.  

“Should.” Beware that word. Watch out when you believe you have the NFL figured out. It has humbled far greater minds than yours and mine.

Take the Eagles. Chip Kelly could hardly have had a more auspicious debut of his wild’n’crazy offense. That first half against the ‘Skins bode well for the future. We have a contender.

So we thought. Now we know the Washington defense is woeful.  The Eagles’ D doesn’t appear to be much better. Michael Vick’s getting beaten up regularly, limping around and getting up slowly from hard hits. He made some bad throws against the Chiefs. Put the Eagles back into the “unknown” category.

The Chiefs have a strong defense and Smith has been a solid game manager. They haven’t made a turnover yet. Beyond that, well, we won’t know until they play the likes of Denver.

Now there’s a rush to bury 0-2 teams. Let’s be a bit careful. 

The Steelers, for example, have shown little offense. But they still have a decent defense and Ben Roethlisberger. They’re facing a Bears team that was fortunate to have beaten Minnesota. The Vikings’ defense was disorganized at the end and needed a timeout. 

The Vikings are in trouble. That’s the conventional wisdom and it’s true, as far as it goes. But their schedule gets easier, beginning with the Browns at home. (If the Vikings can’t win that, it’s hard to see who they can beat.) They face the Steelers in London and then the Panthers at home. Those are all winnable games. Don’t bury them yet.

The Giants haven’t looked very good. But they could’ve beaten the Cowboys despite six turnovers, and they lost to a great Denver team. You can’t bury the Giants yet either. A record of 9-7 or even 8-8 might win the NFC East. Remember that the two 0-2 teams are only a game out of first place. 

The Redskins? Their defense has looked terrible. But RGIII is likely to get into a rhythm. They’ll be at home against the Lions on Sunday. Their previous loss to Detroit at home was in the heyday of the Austro-Hungarian empire. 

The Bucs could easily be 2-0. They gave their opener away to the Jets on a dumb play. But they’ve already lost a divisional home game. They’re in a tough division and their schedule’s not easy. They’ll have to win on the road against the Patriots to avoid going 0-3. Ouch.

The 0-2 Panthers face an equally desperate team Sunday, the Giants. I think that might be one of the best games on Sunday’s schedule. Both teams better bring a sense of urgency with them. You don’t want to be 0-3. 

Stay tuned. Count on this: You can’t be sure about anything.