I spent most of my time last week in this column going on how I would pick Indianapolis to win the playoff game against the Chiefs on Saturday, Jan. 12.
I was wrong in my prediction as many know by now, as the Chiefs will await a showdown with the New England Patriots to move on to Super Bowl 53 this upcoming Sunday night.
The game will be one of the biggest in years in Kansas City.
It is the biggest Chiefs game since the 1970 Super Bowl and the biggest one in town since the 2015 World Series.
I will admit I was a little blown away by how dominant the Chiefs were. I was talking with a longtime friend in the press box after the game and mentioned how it almost seemed liked the Colts got the bad luck — no pun intended — that often plagues Kansas City in the postseason.
This marked my fourth playoff game I covered in Kansas City since moving to the area in 2010. I had only been up in St. Joseph a few weeks when the team hosted Baltimore in the postseason. Matt Cassel and the crew got killed by the stingy Ravens defense.
A few terrible years followed, but the past two years, Andy Reid has guided the Chiefs to the postseason. In 2017, I was there to watch the Steelers come to town.
The Chiefs defense held Pittsburgh out of the end zone but gave up a playoff record six field goals and lost 18-16. Then last year, a heavily-favored Kansas City team lost 22-21 to Tennessee. The only thing I remember about that game is Marcus Mariota throwing a touchdown pass to himself, a rarity for most quarterbacks.
The Chiefs even held a 21-3 lead in the contest and based on ESPN’s numbers, the win probability was almost 98 percent. But then the Chiefs fell apart offensively.
That turned out to be the last game Alex Smith played in Kansas City.
Now the Chiefs prepare to face a Patriots squad that is playing in their eighth straight AFC championship game. They are 4-3 in the previous seven and have won the past two.
This will be New England’s 15th trip to the AFC title game, one behind the AFC mark set by Pittsburgh. The first AFC title game was in 1971, the year after the Chiefs won the title.
This will be only the second trip to the conference championship game for the Chiefs, who lost 30-13 in the first in 1993. The Joe Montana-led Chiefs never led in the contest in Buffalo, but was down 7-6 after the first quarter after a pair of Nick Lowery field goals.
Marcus Allen scored a TD in the third quarter that pulled the Chiefs within a touchdown, 20-13, but Buffalo scored twice in the fourth to seal a fourth straight trip back to the Super Bowl.
The history, especially lately, is in favor of New England. The Patriots have made the AFC championship game 13 times since 2001.
Tom Brady is a legend at quarterback and his success in the regular season has meant the Patriots have hosted the AFC title game seven times — winning six of them.
New England has gone on the road five times for AFC title games under Brady, posting a 2-3 mark. If there is a reason to favor the Chiefs in this one — the winner gets the Lamar Hunt Trophy — it is that stat.
But a stat that worries me is this: Tom Brady is 10-0 in playoff games against first-year starters. That doesn’t bode well for Showtime and the gang.
Brady went into Pittsburgh twice — 2001 and 2004 — and won. Since then, two trips to Denver and one to Indianapolis all results in a loss by the Patriots against Peyton Manning.
The Chiefs will open this game as a 3-point favor — as of Monday. The weather could definitely play a factor. There likely won’t be snow, but there will be bone-chilling wind chill factors.
A 1996 playoff game vs. the Colts — a loss — is the coolest game at Arrowhead, a brisk negative-6 degree at kickoff. Forecast calls for a low around 7 degrees on Sunday night.
So, for those paying $300 or more for a ticket, lets hope the frostbite exposure will be worth it. Otherwise, a loss to the Patriots will sting even more.
Cody Thorn is the editor/publisher of The Platte County Citizen. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.