There has been so much written and said about the Chiefs’ game in Denver this weekend that it’s probably silly to say that any particular angle hasn’t been explored. It’s much more likely that I just haven’t seen/heard it explored.
But here’s something: the pressure of this game is mostly on the Broncos.
I don’t mean that just in the surface, hey-they’re-the-favorite-so-they-need-to-win way, either. I mean that it’s much more important for the Broncos to win this game than the Chiefs.
As it stands, the Broncos are one game behind the Chiefs with seven to go. A loss pushes them two back with six to go, and heading into consecutive road games at New England and at Kansas City.
The Chiefs’ toughest non-Broncos game remaining is probably the Colts at home, but who can be sure what the Colts are? Nobody has wins like them (at San Francisco, at home against Seattle and Denver) but they also lost at home to the Dolphins and Rams, and on the road against the Chargers.
If there is pressure on the Chiefs, it is to "live up" to their record, to show the broader NFL audience that they are not the product of an easy schedule and picking on (literally) backup quarterbacks.
But because there is (thankfully) no BCS in the NFL, all thesepower rankings and perceptions
really mean as much as the color of Peyton Manning’s dress socks. So the idea that the Chiefs need to "prove themselves" is sort of irrelevant. You prove yourself in the playoffs^.
^Or don’t, if the Chiefs’ last 20 years are anything.
The reality is that if the Broncos lose on Sunday, to win the division they’ll need to make up (at least) two games with six to go that include back-to-back road trips against two of the best teams in football. If the Chiefs lose on Sunday, to win the division they’ll need to hold serve against the Broncos at home and play even with them the rest of the season. They could have a little more cushion, depending on the tiebreaker.
Of course, these are trained and highly paid professionals. I’m not sure "pressure" is more relevant here than power rankings or perceptions. Just something I woke up thinking about, and it’s my blog, so there.