Appointment at Arrowhead

The AFC Championship game has another appointment at Arrowhead and that appointment time has been set for 6:30 PM Eastern/5:30 PM Central on the 29th of January 2023. Be there and witness history. Our Sunday saviors will put on a show and try their best to get us to Phoenix for another crack at the Lombardi trophy. Like a good neighbor we hope the Chiefs will be there hoisting the hardware inside of State Farm Stadium alongside Jake and whoever else is in the building wearing Kansas City red. Many of us at the beginning of the season believed we were inevitably headed for a rematch of last season’s divisional round war where Josh Allen did everything humanly possible to win a game in the final two minutes and still came up short because he was up against Superman (also known as Clutch Kal-El) himself.

When the NFL made the decision to not reschedule the completion of the fateful Thursday night Bills versus Bengals game, the NFL made the right decision that took a compassionate stance with regards to the players. This season has been one that has been uniquely focused on player safety and the optics of rescheduling a game in the imminent future while one team still had a brother in the cardiac ICU fighting for his life would have been a tough pill to swallow for even the most diehard football fans. However, decisions have consequences and while the league tried its best to maximize fairness and minimize the devaluation of one team’s playoff prospects throughout the process, it became clear that the knock-on effects and collateral damage of such a tough call were inevitably unavoidable. Someone was going to have a tougher road to traverse and a steeper hike to make it back to the mountaintop and that team turned out to not be our Chiefs.

Bills Flop

The Buffalo Bills were in pole position to claim the #1 seed if they won out since they had the tiebreaker over the Chiefs for their early regular season win in October at Arrowhead. All the Bills had to do was get by the Bengals on Thursday night and they would have the favorable consideration of a super wildcard weekend bye and would have hosted the lowest seed in the AFC Divisional round which turned out to be the Jacksonville Jaguars. Instead, one fateful hit and an unprecedented moment on the field caused the disruption of the Thursday night game that would never be concluded, which essentially ended up locking in the Kansas City Chiefs to the #1 seed.

Neutral Venue Shot Down!

The NFL tried their best to make the AFC Championship game as fair as possible by announcing that it would be at a neutral venue in Atlanta should the game end up being a rematch of last season’s instant classic of the Chiefs and Bills again. That move, in an attempt to maintain fairness, would have only mattered if the game ended up being between the Bills and the Chiefs. As Joe Burrow poignantly reminded the world yesterday, that matchup is not coming to pass, and the NFL needs to issue some refunds for people who already bought tickets to a game that is now never going to happen. The Bills got unceremoniously knocked out.

Number 1 Seed Perks

The beauty of the Chiefs being locked in as the #1 seed is that they were able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the wildcard games from the warm embraces of their homes while Buffalo was fighting for their lives and barely surviving against a Tua-less Miami Dolphins. Buffalo’s reward for escaping with the win in that wildcard game? A rematch with the Bengals, the hottest team still alive in the NFL. That game ended up being as one-sided as it was snowy. The Bills couldn’t afford to play the same way that they played against the Dolphins the week prior, but they did. So now they are home, probably not gone fishing but definitely watching the games like the rest of us fans; much to the chagrin of Stefon Diggs.

Five In a Row!

On the other hand, Chief’s Kingdom is moving on and back in the AFC Championship game for the 5th year in a row. While these prior appearances have only led to one Super Bowl win, I still believe it is safe to say that the Chiefs are in the midst of a dominant dynastic American Conference run that could end up rivaling some of the other protracted and famous dynasties in the history of the NFL. Andy Reid knows how to make a living getting to the final four and he is salivating at a rematch of the AFC Championship game from last season against “Who Dey” nation. Another Championship game against Burrow at Arrowhead for the right to go to another Super Bowl? Sign me up! Andy Reid will be licking his chops while scheming up a game plan to break the three-game losing streak against the Burrow led Bailey Bridge Bengals. The Chiefs will not be losing a third in a row in this matchup. Mark my words.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson (35), Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark (55) and teammates celebrate his interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Jaguars Have Juice!

I do want to give the Jacksonville Jaguars some credit here and not overlook them completely. This could have been a trap game of sorts as many believed that the Jags did not belong on the field with the Chiefs in late January especially with the memory that the Chiefs beat the Jags by 10 in November with a pretty pedestrian performance. Trevor Lawrence and his pack of predatory cats did put up a stiffer bar fight than most pundits and prognosticators expected. Holding the Chief’s offense to 27 points after losing the turnover battle 2-0 while almost matching KC’s production yard for yard at GEHA Field is no easy accomplishment. However, the game was never in doubt and the better team that undoubtedly deserved to advance to the conference championship game was and still is the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mahomes and Injury…

As previously stated, if this season was a rhetorical piece that had a motif, the obvious theme would have been “player safety” for sure. I believe that was in the back of Andy Reid’s mind when he made the decision to pull Patrick Mahomes in the 2nd quarter and send him to the locker room to go get evaluated for his lower leg injury. Mahomes was clearly upset about the decision and tried to flex his muscles in a sideline spat where he was clearly hurling obscenities about not leaving the game. In fairness, Pat is a warrior and did not want to leave his band of brothers on the field without their field general. Ankle sprains are tricky because you can usually play on them right after it happens because continual movement keeps the joint warm, loose, and resistant to swelling up. Coach Reid took into account that he was speaking to maybe the most powerful player in the league and certainly the most powerful player on his team. As Chris Collinsworth alluded to on the TV broadcast, Pat Mahomes is ‘the man,” and he knows it. The Chiefs are clearly his team and Kansas City is definitely his city. Initially Coach Reid deferred to Mahomes and his knowledge of his own body to continue playing.

However, after further consideration, Coach Reid made the right call by ordering Mahomes back to locker room for a full evaluation. In a situation like that, personalities can be strong, and tensions can get high, but player safety must be the primary element for decision making and it would not have been a good look if Mahomes had a major structural injury, played through it, and made it worse because of adrenaline and his refusal to leave the field. In that situation it was better to be safe than sorry. Reid went safe and Chiefs fans were not sorry. Chad Henne, the former Michigan man, came in and did not allow for any slippage in the team as he helped lead the Chiefs on their longest playoff drive of all time with a 98-yard touchdown drive. Mahomes was able to return to the game after receiving some treatment and a better tape job of his ankle after halftime and now the prognosis for his high ankle sprain diagnosis seems to be better than anticipated due to some of that emergency intervention and treatment that Mahomes received on Saturday.

No Hill No Problem

Travis Kelce was spectacular once again and not only solidified himself as the best tight end in the league, but he is definitely one of the best offensive weapons in the history of football. Kelce’s continuous health, availability, and production made the loss of Tyreek Hill via trade a lot easier to stomach and the draft pick compensation haul the Chiefs received in return was a king’s ransom that Brett Veach will start cashing in on this offseason. But first things first, it’s time for us to end this magical Joe Burrow run and get back to the Super Bowl for either a rematch with the 49ers or a showdown with Coach Reid’s former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. I like Chiefs Kingdom for the win, but we shall see how it plays out on the 29th of January. Don’t miss the appointment.

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