Uncertainty is like a disease. A string of bad luck here, a handful of poor choices there, and before you know it you’re in a slump. It’s like that fine line between being the type of drunk that makes you sharper — where you see everything clearly and every word out of your mouth feels pitch perfect — and the type of drunk where your brain is a tick too slow and it’s harder to find the words.
The gap between being right and being wrong, or being certain versus being uncertain, is oftentimes incredibly slim. I get into bouts where I question myself more than usual just like the next person — both in my personal life and betting on sports, or having opinions on anything — and a lot of it boils down to that minor but exceptionally meaningful gap.
It obviously works out in both directions, something I have spent a fair amount of time writing about over the years. It’s been my general complacency when times have been good, and my added focus and will to succeed when times haven’t been. It’s a great theory — the idea of going to a factory and building the perfect human, one who has all the gifts and works their ass off, but the way it tends to work out in reality is either one or the other: you either have the tools and don’t work as hard as you should, or your gifts are limited but you maximize them.
But because I have always been on the side that prefers supreme talent over strong work ethic, I’m pleasantly (if not surprisingly) satisfied with the Chiefs’ 38-24 thrashing of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. After a stretch of going 8-1 in the standings, while being a nearly impossible 0-8-1 against the spread, Kansas City proved themselves to be the team I and many others believed they were all along.
Since it’s football season, everything I write has to be about football. As someone who prides himself on being right more often than wrong, I can say that as of the Super Bowl I will have a season-long ATS record of 36-36-1. That’s right, I am batting exactly 50% — with a tie. Picking football games against the spread doesn’t hold the significance of life choices (depending on who you ask), but it does give some immediate feedback when asking the question: Am I right more than I am wrong? It doesn’t mean much, but it has to mean something or else I wouldn’t be doing it.
Over the last couple years, the thought of whether or not I’ve been falling off in my prediction game has definitely been in the back of my mind. I was wrong about Bernie Sanders beating Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination; I was wrong about Biden holding off Trump in the General Election; I was wrong about my timeline for buying a house, not knowing that COVID was actually going to make it harder on me (when I thought the opposite would be true).
So I’ve had this private thought — not frequently, but it’s there — that maybe I’m not as sharp as I see myself. Again, when you get on this streak of flipping coins and it comes up tails enough times in a row when you are expecting it to be heads, it throws a dent in the old confidence meter.
When the Chiefs whooped up on the Bills, it kind of restored that feeling that perhaps everything is right where it needs to be. And it’s not every day I can say that. I went into the year with one thing on my mind when it came to football — that Kansas City was the team to beat — and even during the year when they weren’t covering games I defaulted to the scoreboard. But they are winning, aren’t they?
In the meantime all sorts of public figures did their best to convince me I was crazy. That the Chiefs weren’t the championship team they were a year ago. That all manner of teams, from the Ravens to the Steelers to the Bills, were going to knock them off their pedestal. Week after week, with the Chiefs continually winning while not being impressive enough, these voices chipped away and started giving me doubts. My confidence in Kansas City’s ability to turn it on never wavered, but at a certain point I wondered if I was, in fact, the crazy one.
No one wants to be last to the party, not when you invest so much time into consuming the sport and especially when the team in question is your team. I know I have blind spots in wagering on the NFL and making my picks on here every week, yet when it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs I want to be the guy who sees it before it becomes common. They aren’t going to win the Super Bowl every year, but I’d like to think the next time the wheels fall off I will have said so before the rest of the world realizes it.