Well here it is.
The Kansas City Chiefs ended their 2022 regular season campaign with a 31-13 beatdown of the Las Vegas Raiders, propelling them to 14-3 and securing the number one seed in the AFC — giving them a first round bye in the playoffs.
I considered calling in sick to work today, given how massive the ramifications were from this standalone Saturday contest in Las Vegas. My better judgement prevailed because at the end of the day if the Chiefs couldn’t beat the fucking Raiders with their backup quarterback and nothing to play for beyond spoiling Kansas City’s chance at the one seed, then the Chiefs didn’t deserve it.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this was all kind of fucked up the way it played out towards the Chiefs’ benefit. Despite them being my favorite football team and having every opportunity to make it to a fifth consecutive AFC Championship, and third Super Bowl in four years, it does seem unfair that Buffalo — due to unprecedented circumstances stemming from Monday Night Football last week — didn’t get a fair crack at earning the one seed themselves.
That probably sounds like I’m crying crocodile tears for Kansas City’s biggest rival. My friends think I’m full of shit for echoing a similar sentiment in real life. But I really mean it, I do. I come from a poor and working class city and one of the most important things I learned from growing up there was that respect was its own form of currency. I never played football and never coached football and am nothing more than an outsider, a fan. But beyond the X’s and O’s and great skill position players, and impactful quarterbacks, I always felt like there was a certain type of justice that occurred between the lines. If there is a bad call, it gets made up for. If a player takes a cheap shot at another player, that player will get a cheap shot delivered back at him at some point.
These are my animalistic and neanderthal instincts that are hardwired into me — I won’t try to deny that — but when a situation happens such as it did when the Bills played the Bengals on Monday Night and a player collapsed on the field and the game was canceled, there is something unjust about it. Not that the Bills, who were losing 7-3 and on the fast track to being down 14-3, were absolutely one hundred percent going to win the game. Maybe they wouldn’t have. But they didn’t get their chance.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, got to run through a slew of cupcakes down the stretch of their regular season. After losing to the Bengals in Week 13 Kansas City played the Broncos (twice), Texans, Seahawks, and Raiders, good for a cumulative record of 20-44-1. They weren’t particularly impressive in any of those games save for today’s blowout win against the Raiders, and yet they are walking into a 14-3 record and the top seed in the AFC.
There’s a scenario where the Bills win tomorrow and if everything shakes out the way it’s supposed to, they’ll meet the Chiefs in the AFC Championship at a neutral field. That’s the compromise the NFL is making: giving the Chiefs a free pass in the first weekend of the playoffs, making the Bills win not only Week 18 against the Patriots, but during Wild Card Weekend and, most likely, against the Bengals in the AFC Divisional Round. Their path to play at a neutral field is lightyears more difficult than Kansas City’s.
Am I supposed to argue with that? Of course not. But again, I’m talking about respect. In no way do I actually believe the Chiefs will take a dive and intentionally lose a game in the Divisional Round or AFC Championship if they happen to play Buffalo. I’m just saying if there was any justice in this NFL world then the team who didn’t have an opportunity to be in the same position the Chiefs are in — the Bills — would be the winners of the AFC.
I’m almost at the point where I would be willing to bet on any team other than the Chiefs to win the conference. Because this way is just too easy. Kansas City lost to Buffalo. They lost to Cincinnati. And yet they will receive the first round bye and force Buffalo and Cincinnati to, very likely, play one another for the right to meet Kansas City.
This is and has been The Road To Glory. Who could have known that after trading Tyreek Hill the Chiefs would not only have won the AFC West for the millionth straight year, but that they’d procure the top seed in the AFC? Glory in the NFL only exists when hoisting the Super Bowl trophy. The Chiefs are on that road, and if odds play out how they are supposed to they will be the ones doing it.
But this is also the juncture in the game where I reiterate as I did a month or so ago that the NFL is for entertainment. It is not everything. I sit here at 11:30 PM on a random Saturday night pondering my own glory, and what’s most important to me. I’ve been riding a two-month high that I’ve still not come down from, and it has nothing to do with football. I would love for the Chiefs to do the fucking thing and make me happy just as they did in 2020 when they beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl. But my own personal glory matters more. And it’s right there, baby.