Sam Mellinger

Mellinger Minutes: Comparing the Chiefs' streak to the Royals' comebacks, playoff plans, keep your worries to yourself

The good times keep rolling on the road for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
The good times keep rolling on the road for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. deulitt@kcstar.com

The following is a complete waste of time, borderline made-up nonsense, but you knew that when you clicked on that link anyway so maybe we should skip the rest of the disclaimer.

By now, you probably know the Chiefs are the NFL's first team to lose five straight and then win eight straight, and, yes, we live in a world where far too much information is stored and wondered about.

Anyway, the scope of what the Chiefs are doing this season is incredible and, if not for the world champion Royals, would be the most amazing sports story in Kansas City in quite some time.

And maybe that no team ever has done what the Chiefs are doing should stand on its own. Actually, it does. But I got to wondering about a way to calculate how unlikely this is.

This is undoubtedly flawed, but you knew that already, so here goes: the betting line of each game roughly corresponds to an expected chance of winning. A pick 'em spread is 50-50, a 4 1/2 point favorite should win roughly two of three, and so on.

Here are the point spreads for the Chiefs' eight consecutive victories:

Steelers +3

Lions +3.5

Broncos -4.5

Chargers +3

Bills +5.5

Raiders +3

Chargers +10.5

Ravens +6.5

It's interesting that the Chiefs have only been the underdog once during this streak, no? The Steelers, of course, were playing with Landry Jones instead of Ben Roethlisberger and most of those other teams simply stink. But still.

Anyway, converting those spreads to the Chiefs' hypothetical and useless win expectancies:

59.4 percent vs. the Steelers

64.3 percent vs. the Lions

32.7 percent vs. the Broncos

59.4 percent vs. the Chargers

69 percent vs. the Bills

59.4 percent vs. the Raiders

86 percent vs. the Chargers

72.4 vs. the Ravens

Putting those numbers together, the Chiefs had, in theory, a 1.9 percent chance to win ALL of those games. For comparison's sake, you might recall the Royals' win expectancy in the Wild Card game dropped to 3.5 at one point. In Game 4 of the Division Series this year, it was 1.6 percent.

And you know what a big deal we all made of those comebacks.

After going 1-5 in the season's first six games, the Kansas City Chiefs have now reeled off eight straight wins. The Star's Blair Kerkhoff, Vahe Gregorian, Terez A. Paylor and Sam Mellinger break down the Chiefs' latest victory, a 34-14 win over t

This week's eating recommendation is the granola at the Filling Station, and the reading recommendation is Lee Jenkins on what might be the Chargers' last game in San Diego.

As always, thanks for the help and thanks for reading.

We talked a little about this last week, but yeah. Definitely. For so long, being a sports fan in Kansas City has required a dark sense of humor, the ability to laugh at yourself, stubborn hope, and hearing story after story after story about the 1969 Chiefs and 1985 Royals.

Depending on your college allegiance, you have had fleeting moments of joy but not enough to dig your way out from the rubble of Sirr Parker, another early tournament loss or Tyus Edney.

What's weird is that there is a certain pride that develops in this. You know what I mean? I know this is stupid, but the other day, Jeff Pearlman — author of many terrific sports booksasked if any team had played four worse quarterbacks than the Texans this year. And, sure, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Mallett and T.J. Yates is a murderers row of stink.

But I felt, for some dumb reason, to stick up for the 2008 Chiefs, because Tyler Thigpen, Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard and Quinn Gray need to be heard. And, for some REALLY dumb reason, I actually felt slighted that my suggestion gathered no traction. I mean, guys. TYLER THIGPEN STARTED ELEVEN GAMES.

Whenever there is a list of which cities have suffered the most sports heartbreak, Cleveland and Buffalo are always at the top, and you always seem to end up feeling like Kansas City isn't getting enough credit for Lin Elliott and Elvis Grbac and The Strike and everything else.

But, yeah. Those days are gone. The Royals are an American League power, the Chiefs have a third consecutive winning season (first time since 1997!), Sporting Kansas City won the US Open Cup and made the playoffs, FC Kansas City won its championship, the Mavericks and Comets are doing well, it's all quite ... strange.

I don't know if this will make sense, but it's how I feel — I think it's OK to think the worst, just not to speak it.

Let me explain, if I can. Decades of teams so bad that Ken Harvey is an All-Star mean a certain muscle memory is developed where you expect any good thing to disintegrate into a painful memory at any second. Like I say, Kansas City comes by that honestly.

But, really, once your baseball team wins a one-game playoff like that, nobody has time to listen to your defeatism. Especially not after you win a World Series like that.

Keep it to yourself, at least until the Chiefs blow a lead in Houston or something.

Blair did a good job with the playoff picture here, but, basically, the Chiefs win the division with two wins and one Denver loss. The Chiefs play the craptastic Browns this weekend, and the dangerous Raiders next week, both at home. The Broncos play the Andy Dalton-less Bengals this week, and the craptastic Chargers next week, both at home. The Broncos opened as a 3 1/2 point favorite over the Bengals. Crazier things have happened.

This is the new topic around the Chiefs. The hell is wrong with these guys? has been replaced by Holy cow we might actually make the playoffs? has been replaced by OK, it's not enough to make the playoffs, now let's talk about HOW we want to make the playoffs.

Speaking of which, I present to you...

These things are fluid, even with two weeks left, so as long as none of us mind wasting time — and, c'mon, we're here, aren't we? — let's assume that being the No. 3 seed would mean playing the Broncos* at Arrowhead. Being the No. 6 seed would mean playing, probably, at Houston.

* The Steelers are the No. 6 seed, but finish at Baltimore and at Cleveland, and would have the tiebreaker against the Broncos.

Honestly, I think the Chiefs would win both of those games.

The Broncos are better than the Texans, but the Chiefs have outplayed Denver in the aggregate this season, the Broncos' quarterback situation is a soap opera, and being the No. 3 seed would mean the divisional game would be against the Bengals instead of Patriots.

This is a great question. The candidates are Alex Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce, and Marcus Peters. Do we agree on that? Jaye Howard is having a great season, Sean Smith has played well, yada yada yada, but I think those are the candidates.

This might be tinged by recency bias, or even just a bias because I adore the way he attacks the game, but I'm taking Peters. Smith is limited, and Maclin is 27. I believe Kelce is going to be a star, but there's only one Gronk, and there are some focus mistakes that make you a little hesitant.

Peters plays a critical position, is only 22 years old, and has a full body and mind commitment to football that I believe will only drive him to improve. He has had some rough spots this season, but I'm willing to be naive on him. I think this a star.

So, I do think the Chiefs played effectively and purposefully boring on Sunday. They did the same thing in the season opener at Houston, and the win in Denver. But I don't think this is, necessarily, their identity.

They opened up against the Bills, for instance, and took some chances against the Raiders. The Chiefs seem, at least to me in this moment, a team that plays to the score more than most.

This is smart. Their defense is good enough, and their offense's strength is ball protection, so it only makes sense to amplify those advantages when the other team has to come from behind.

If we're comparing to the 1995 team, I think Alex Smith is better than Steve Bono, and that Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce are better playmakers than Marcus Allen (at that point in his career) or Willie Davis (who led that team in receiving yards, though barely). The 1995 offensive line was WAY better, and the defense was probably better.

So, I don't know. I guess there's a comparison. But that was a long time ago. And all this talk about different Chiefs teams that lost their first playoff game is a little sad.

Yes.

I love Pro Football Focus, and Carson Palmer has been terrific, but this is just hard to get behind. Newton is a force of nature. I do think the one-man show thing has been overplayed. Greg Olsen is great, and the Panthers' defense has suffocated folks. But there's nobody in the history of football — this is not an exaggeration — who has done the things Newton is doing. The man threw for five touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards the other day. They're undefeated.

Let's not make this more complicated than it needs to be.

There is no question this is true. We all like our drama in different forms. My mom used to watch soap operas. I have friends who love professional wrestling. Others who are into politics. None of us have room to judge.

I know this is taking your question too literally, but he's not even to the conference schedule in his second season, so it's not borrowed time.

But, yeah. They stink. That loss to North Carolina State the other day was hard to watch. It's OK for Missouri to be bad. Frank Haith left him nothing. I don't think anyone expected this to be a one-year turnaround. But it's not OK for Mizzou to be bad like this. You should be able to see points of progress. They shouldn't look overmatched.

It's a sliding scale, but there is a point where the losses pile high enough that his relatively small salary becomes eatable. There is a point where attendance, and morale, and things like that make a change smart business. We're not there, not yet, and Anderson deserves a chance to work out of this. But he's behind, already.

What's with you guys and this borrowed time thing?

The definitive ranking of best-dressed sports writers in Kansas City:

1. Vahe.

2. Most TV reporters.

3. Blair.

Tied for last: Everyone else.

My personal dress game is wildly inconsistent. I am the Matt Stafford of dressing, my game ranging from nearly deplorable to somewhat presentable. My wife used to ask some variation of, Really? when I'd walk out the door to a practice or game, but I told her I'd be better dressed than 60 percent of the people there so she stopped asking.

But you make a good point. Andy dresses like a lost high school sophomore whose laundry isn’t being done by his mom anymore.

You can't say that out loud anymore!

(Yes.)

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