By Nick Athan
After a convincing beat down against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs play their regular season opener at Arrowhead against division rival, Los Angeles (San Diego) Chargers. The atmosphere should be electric, but I hope the memory of the late, Len Dawson, sets the tone for another Super Bowl Title for Kansas City.
On Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, was virtually unstoppable. The Arizona Cardinals had no answers for the wizardry of KC’s gunslinger. Andy Reid, with the Matt Nagy influence on full display, completely ushered in a revamped offense, that showcased the talents of the many and not the few.
In years past, this offense was Kelce and Hill. That’s not the case anymore. Mahomes spread the ball to every capable receiver, tight end and running back on the field. The results were five touchdown passes to four different teammates. Not bad for a quarterback on the decline, that per PFF, was the 7th or 8th best quarterback of the NFL’s opening weekend.
So let me be clear, I’m done with the narrative Mahomes skills are in decline, and how Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, and Thursday’s starting quarterback, Justin Herbert, are better than Mahomes.
In week one, Hebert was stellar against the Raiders. Carr caved to the Chargers’ pass rush, and Wilson struggled mightily losing to Seattle Monday Night. It’s clear the Chiefs and Chargers are the two best teams in the wild AFC West, based solely on one singular fact, they have the best quarterbacks in the division.
The game Thursday night is important, not for the fact I’ll be in attendance, and I finally get to see Mahomes play live for the first time, but because the Chiefs already turned NFL heads after destroying the Cardinals on the road in the manner they did on Sunday. They can shut up every other Monday Morning critic, who still believes, the Chiefs are going to miss the playoffs if they send the Chargers back to the left coast after a bitter defeat.
Let’s be honest the Chargers can absolutely defeat the Chiefs at Arrowhead. They have the pass rush and the quarterback to get it done. They defeated the Chiefs a year ago at Arrowhead, thanks to a few unlucky turnovers, so they don’t fear Mahomes and company.
Yet, I’m not sure they truly understand the magnitude of this football game. It’s not just the importance of the game within the division, but it’s the type of game, the Chiefs generally win. Herbert has yet to win a big game. I know it’s just week two, but this might as well be the AFC Title game. If the Chargers come in with that mentality, they could win. If the Chiefs play like they did Sunday against the Cardinals, they’ll be 2-0 to start the season.
However, there is a wild card factor. Though the Chiefs honored the great Lenny Dawson in their final preseason game, I suspect they’ll bring out more reminders of the incredible love and appreciation this franchise has for their beloved quarterback.
For those that know me, Len Dawson was my childhood hero. He meant the world to me as a kid, and later as an adult. He was the best role model I’ve ever known – next to my grandfather.
Thursday night is going to be emotional for many reasons, and I suspect the crowd at Arrowhead, once the game begins, will focus solely on making it as loud and hard as possible on the Chargers.
I know though, Lenny Dawson, will be there in spirit Thursday night and the 2022 Chiefs will do their part to carry on the legacy he started back in the 60s. Mahomes is the new era of Chiefs football in the heartland. I can’t help but think how much it meant to Patrick Mahomes that Dawson in life and now in spirit, handed him the keys to the Chiefs Kingdom.
If there is a championship theme for the Chiefs in 2022, its rather simple – #WinItIVLenny