In Kansas City, 1969 is remembered as the Chiefs’ last Super Bowl season. It’s also the last time when two stalwarts, one undefeated and the other with only one loss, butted heads this late in the season. The Minnesota Vikings were 10-and-1 when they squared off against the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams.
Sunday night’s game between the Chiefs and the Denver Broncos pits the league’s best defense against the most prolific offense. Taking the rivalry between the two teams to a different level.
The game has been anticipated for weeks, but no matter how it turns out, Chiefs fan Katie Cecil of Prairie Village, Kan. says the home crowd will be ready for the rematch on Thanksgiving weekend.
"Just the energy in that stadium for any Broncos game, but especially this year with the way that both teams are playing, I think it’ll be awesome," she says.
Best in 10 years
First things first: The Chiefs' 9-0 start matches the best start in Chiefs history, which happened ten years ago. Before graduating from Blue Springs High School, Chiefs offensive lineman Donald Stephenson says he closely followed that 9-0 start in 2003.
"It was a fun experience. We had a great offense that year. Our defense struggled," says Stephenson.
This year the roles are reversed. The Chiefs defense has been a pillar of strength. They have not allowed their opponents to score more than 17 points, yet. No team in the NFL has accomplished that in a 9-0 start since 1934.
Meanwhile, the offense searches for consistency and that’s the area where Stephenson says he has heard from the skeptics.
"There’s some times when people like to start arguments about why we shouldn’t be 9-0. It’s like, ‘OK, whatever.’ That’s our feeling," says Stephenson. "We really don’t pay attention to it. We’re just happy we’re 9-0. Last year we won two games. Regardless of what people feel or how we’ve gotten to be 9-0, we’re 9-0 and we’re having fun with it."
In the Chiefs most recent game at Buffalo, their offense didn’t score any points. But as a result of field goals and points scored by the defense, the Chiefs returned home with their ninth victory.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith acknowledges a lack of respect for the Chiefs’ 9-0 record.
"That’s there, but I think the fact that it’s a division game, a division rival, division implications, I think that trumps everything," says Smith.
With 38-year old Peyton Manning at quarterback, the Broncos are a flashy team. They’ve scored more points in the first nine games of the NFL season than anyone else in league history. He’ll be the highest profile quarterback the Chiefs defense will face since Peyton’s brother, Eli Manning, came to town with the New York Giants in late September.
That’s what all the fuss is about: the lack of quality opponents.
The task ahead
Bartender Ernie McCush says he’s heard the chatter from behind a bar in Blue Springs, Mo.THe b
"I mean if you can write a book and play Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees and beat all those guys, then yeah," he says. "But you can’t write a book that way. You’ve got to beat the teams that are out there. We’ve got seven games left and they’re all against teams that have better records than all the ones we’ve played before. Now they have the chance to go out there and prove that."
Until the arrest of starting wide receiver Dwayne Bowe last weekend, the Chiefs had been free of any controversy, and free from any major injuries. Now they’ll hit a stretch that will perhaps answer the question that the skeptics keep asking about this team: Can this team make it to the Super Bowl?
A better measuring stick will hinge on the outcome of the two regular season games against AFC West rival, the Denver Broncos.