The Road To Glory: Part XVII

There is something to be said about having a bye week in the NFL playoffs. While everyone else in the conference is slugging it out and beating up on each other, you get to rest and relax and by the time you do play another football game it will be against the lowest remaining seed.

The Chiefs earned the bye week by virtue of going 14-3 during the regular season, and their reward is playing a Jacksonville Jaguars team that stormed back from a 27-0 halftime deficit against the Chargers. It was an emotional victory — one that ended on a field goal as time expired — the types of games that make it easy for the victor to pat themselves on the back.

As a Kansas City fan I am equal parts confident about that aspect of next Saturday’s contest, and equal parts worried because the Jaguars are truly playing with house money at this point. They won the AFC South against all odds; they pulled off a massive second half comeback in a postseason game last week; and now they arrive to Arrowhead Stadium to play the MVP favorite, Patrick Mahomes, and the top-seeded Chiefs. Who in the world expects Jacksonville to win?

I’ll say this: I got my vacation request denied at the casino I work at BECAUSE IT’S CHINESE FUCKING NEW YEAR THIS WEEKEND, so let me be the first to say that no matter what happens during Saturday’s game between the Chiefs (-8.5) and Jaguars, it’s going to be weird. That’s all I know to be true.

Let us never forget that it was three years ago that the Chiefs played the Texans in the Divisional Round, and I was so fucking confident in a Kansas City win that I didn’t find it necessary to take the day off from work or call in sick. What followed was Houston taking a 24-0 lead at the beginning of the second quarter, me feeling physically ill as I watched the game from the craps table I had to deal on, and yeah the Chiefs ended up winning 51-31 but it was a fucking weird and wild game nonetheless.

The next year I said to hell with it, nothing that crazy can happen again. The Chiefs were playing the Cleveland Browns this time around. Kansas City took a blowtorch to them in the first half, and then poof, Patrick Mahomes ran an option play and got knocked out of the game with a concussion. So for the next quarter and a half I was at work sweating while backup QB Chad Henne held on for dear life. Kansas City ended up winning 22-17.

Last year was the only “easy” one, a win against the Steelers that I don’t even remember the score because it was such a blowout. 38-14? 38-21? Something like that. But it took the Chiefs a while to get going. And I was at work for it.

This year I did it right. A month or two ago I went online and put in the vacation request. I wasn’t late, and I had plenty of vacation time in the bank. It wasn’t a blackout weekend. There was nothing stopping me.

Then a couple weeks ago my boss came up to me while I was on a dead game to personally let me know it got denied because of Chinese fucking New Year; she even apologized to me because “I know how you feel about the Chiefs during the playoffs,” and I’m like “YEAH I KNOW RIGHT?” But I mean, I get it. I just thought there was some kind of exception that they would default to because it’s guaranteed that I’m going to make like five different dealing mistakes and my back is going to be turned on my game to look for the down and distance and if this game against the Jaguars has critical moments — which it will, because it’s the fucking playoffs — no one is going to be safe at the casino I work at. Players, coworkers. It’s going to be a shit show.

Of course, I’ll be a professional. I’ll be a man about it, win or lose. And sure, if the eight-and-a-half-point favored Chiefs are not able to dispatch of the Jacksonville Jaguars, then they don’t deserve to win the Super Bowl this year. I’m taking the simplest philosophical approach I can with this year’s Kansas City team: they are capable of winning it all, but they are also vulnerable enough to lose their first game. That’s a boring take, but it’s my take.

Again, The Road To Glory involves the Chiefs. It obviously does. I want the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl and I want to celebrate. It’s also true that pretty much everything in my life has taken a back seat as of recent, from football to how much money I’m making to everything else I kind of care about (or care a lot about). So it’s either going to happen on Saturday or it isn’t going to happen. But I will keep it moving regardless.

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