If we are all being honest with ourselves we have to admit that the Kansas City Chiefs did not take the game against the Arizona Cardinals seriously.
If we are all being honest with ourselves we have to admit that the Kansas City Chiefs did not take the game against the Arizona Cardinals all that seriously on Sunday.
I’m not saying the Chiefs ignored the Cardinals all week only to wake up on Sunday morning and throw on their helmets, but it wasn’t their only focus during the week. In fact, I would guess the Cardinals were likely not even their main focus. There seems to be a lot of circumstantial evidence to point us in that direction.
As fans, we believe that athletes should have incredible tunnel vision which allows them to focus 100% of their attention on every single second of every single game. In reality, it doesn’t work that way. All pro athletes are human beings who have the same emotions and thought processes as the rest of us. So be honest with yourself when I ask this question: when something of serious importance is coming up but you have something easy and insignificant just before it, can you ignore the important one until the easy one is finished?
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The Cardinals came into Sunday’s game as one of the worst teams in the league at 2-7. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen had five touchdowns and six interceptions on the year through nine weeks, and the game was being played inside Arrowhead stadium where the Chiefs are undefeated and the defense has played their best football all season. The Chiefs were 16.5 point favorites in Vegas and nobody outside of Chief haters or Cardinal homers picked K.C. to lose this game.
Meanwhile the Chiefs next game is on Monday Night Football against the Los Angeles Rams in Mexico City. Primetime in a foreign country is a huge deal on its own as the NFL will make sure you are the center of the NFL world all week. The NFL is trying to expand their brand as far and wide as they can so they make a big deal out of these foreign games to sell them as hard as they can. Combine that publicity with the fact this game will be played in altitude that can be a big factor in a game and that alone are distractions a human being can’t avoid.
If the simple game factor wasn’t enough, they are playing the Rams, whom many are predicting to be the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. This means the best team in the AFC is facing the best (or second best if you like the Saints) in the NFC. Throw in the fact the Chiefs are going up against their former teammate in Marcus Peters and that adds some tension to the show.
I’ve heard people say that this game shouldn’t matter more than any other game, that the idea of this being a big game is only an outsider’s perspective trying to sell tickets. Yet I say this game is the best versus the best and what competitor doesn’t thrive on going up against the best? To me, it makes sense that the Chiefs were not only looking ahead to the Rams in Week 10, but they were probably even planning for it already.
The team said all the right things during the week, but I believe they were lying and that’s a good thing. Just go back and rewatch the game and you will see how it’s obvious the Chiefs took this game off and simply used it as prep work for the Rams. The offense wasn’t fancy or inventive at any point in this game. They went so far as to not bring anything really new to the table and even dusted off some old favorites like the shovel pass to Travis Kelce.
The offensive line got destroyed in this game, and I don’t believe that’s only because the Cardinals have a such a dominating pass rush. Don’t get me wrong, they have a good pass rush and Chandler Jones is a stud, but the Chiefs have faced better this year and given up nothing. I believe they were bad today because they ran a vanilla scheme and did not give the Cardinals the attention they normally do in a week. That did cost the Chiefs, as Mahomes took more hits in this game than he’s taken in any other game of his career, but the Chiefs did make some halftime adjustments that kept Mahomes upright for the majority of the second half.
While the offense struggled, the defense was a force against the Cardinals. As much as I’d love to give credit to some amazing game planning, if we are being honest, it was primarily because the Cardinals are not good on offense. The Chiefs didn’t bring many crazy blitzes or unveil some crazy schemes. Instead, it was Dee Ford and Justin Houston who embarrassed the tackles and forced Rosen to step up into the waiting arms of Chris Jones for the entire game. When you play an offense as bad as the Cardinals, you can be vanilla and still dominate.
So no, it was not a big deal at all that the Chiefs took Sunday’s game off. In fact, it was the right move. I am sure the game plan against the Cardinals this week was designed with the Rams in mind, either testing some things out or being vanilla to not show the Rams anything. It allowed the Chiefs to sit Sammy Watkins and Anthony Hitchens and play Houston sparingly. I fully expect all hands to be on deck next week and playing at their full capacity, with the exception of Eric Berry.
For those purists who believe the team should play every single snap of every game like it will be their last, I am sorry to tell you that isn’t the reality of the world. I’m also here to tell you that is okay though. This week’s game against the Cardinals went according to plan. They basically ignored an opponent, took the week off, got a jump start on their biggest game of the season to date, didn’t get anyone hurt, and still won the game!