Archive for Thursday, September 25, 2003

Opinion: Can they switch divisions?

September 25, 2003

It is my guess that for the first time in NFL history, one of the AFC's wildcard teams will have a better record than three of the four division winners.

That's because either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Denver Broncos will wind up with one of the wildcard spots at the end of the season --ith a 15-1 record.

If this young NFL season has taught us nothing more, we have learned that the cream of the crop in the NFL resides at the top of the AFC West.

The Chiefs and Broncos have gotten off to extraordinary starts --tarts both teams expected and several opponents fear.

Kansas City has proven that its defense is much better than it was last season, and Priest Holmes is back. His hip is fine and his end zone dance is hip.

Denver hasn't trailed for a single second this season and is averaging more than 30 points a game while winning by an average margin of more than 20.

And that's been with newly acquired Jake Plummer playing less than great and stud running back Clinton Portis playing less than a half in two of the three games.

If those two actually ever get on track, the Broncos could be downright scary.

But as a lifelong Bronco fan, I'll admit it, right now the Chiefs have me scared.

I don't like it that their defense is improved and actually looks like one of the best in the league. I don't like it that the offensive line is so good that even I could post decent numbers. And I don't like it that every time teams kick to Dante Hall I think he's going to score.

It's fun to watch, but I don't like it. And that's because it's a direct threat to my Broncos.

The way I see it, these teams will only have two tough games all season. Those toughies will be when they play each other --nce in two weeks at Arrowhead and again in December in Denver --nd they will determine which team wins the AFC West and which team makes the playoffs as a wildcard team.

Although I'd love to predict that the Broncos will sweep the Chiefs like they did last year, I'm not sure I can. Beating this year's Kansas City team looks like it will be tough to do. To do it twice would be a minor miracle.

But I do assume that both teams will win at home. Assuming the rest of the schedule plays out the way it should, that would leave both teams 15-1 at the end of the season.

I don't have the patience or the time to figure out the potential tiebreak scenarios, but what it ultimately means is that one of the teams with the best record in football will have to play a second-round game at home.

That's why I've petitioned the league to move either Kansas City or Denver to the NFC so these teams can meet where they truly belong --n the Super Bowl.

Somehow, though, I don't see Mr. Tagliabue granting my request. But the NFL commissioner could at least consider giving both teams a first-round bye if my prediction does come true.

I realize there are still a lot of games to be played and that, as with any season, anything can happen.

But if the Chiefs and Broncos play the rest of the season the way they've started out, they'll be battling in January for the right to beat up on whichever NFC patsy makes it to Houston.

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