I live about 200 miles from Atlanta and 90 miles from Nashville. Because of that, I have to put up with way too many Falcons and Titans fans. Needless to say, I rather enjoyed talking to several of them shortly after the Chiefs pounded the Falcons 56-10 on Sunday. The Falcons fans were in shock and the Titans fans are now very worried about having to face the Chiefs on December 13. Do the Titans have anything to worry about, however? Are there residual effects (good or bad) apart from the initial psychological impact from either trashing an opponent or being trashed?
This was the eighth time the Chiefs have scored at least 50 points against an opponent in a regular season game. It appears that there is indeed a short-term residual benefit from scoring 50-points-plus as the Chiefs rolled up a 5-1-1 record in the next game played (3-0-0 at home and 2-1-1 on the road). If one, however, classifies a blowout as a game where the winner outscores the opponent by at least 30 points, then the residual effects are even more obvious. Sunday's game was the thirtieth time the Chiefs had put up a 30-point or better win. The record in the next game was only 15-10-1 (three of the blowouts occurred in the last game of the season), but the record at home is 9-1-0 which points to a significant positive effect in a back-to-back home game scenario. By contrast, KC has been on the receiving end of a beating eleven times (only one came at home, a 45-0 pounding by the Pittsburgh Steelers on 11/7/76 which triggered a three-game losing streak) and their record in the next game played was 6-5-0.
If the short-term effects are significant, what are the long-term effects? History would indicate that most of the blowout games either occurred too late in the season to have a long-term impact on the team's season or there was no significant alteration in the season pattern. In six seasons, however, a significant alteration did take place.
In 1966, the Chiefs were sitting with a 4-2 record when the Chiefs traveled to Denver. The 56-10 pounding of the Broncos started a 7-0-1 win streak that carried the team to the AFL Western Division championship. KC then dismantled the Bills 31-7 to win the AFL championship and a berth against the Packers in Super Bowl I.
In the 1968 season, the Chiefs lost the second game of the season 20-19 to the Jets. That loss could have destroyed the team's psyche due to the fact that the Jets controlled the ball for the last 5:56 of the game. Instead, the Chiefs responded by consecutively crushing the Broncos 34-2 and the Dolphins 48-3. Those two games were the catalyst for a 11-1 run and the team finished in a tie with the Raiders with a 12-2 record. Unfortunately, KC was blown out 41-6 in Oakland in the playoffs.
It could be argued that the 1969 season blowout in game 2 was not as significant to the team's fortunes as the 24-19 loss to the Bengals in game 3 was. The blowout, a 31-0 destruction of the Patriots, carried a high price tag as Len Dawson injured his knee in the game and would be out for the next six games. In the loss to Cincinnati, Jacky Lee cracked his ankle and the Chiefs were forced to go with rookie QB Mike Livingston until Dawson could return. The team responded with a seven game win streak and finished with an 11-3-0 record and a berth against the Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
In Marty Schottenheimer's first season as head coach in 1989, the team was sitting on a 4-6-1 record before blowing out the Oilers 34-0. The team then won three out of the remaining four games to close out the season at 8-7-1. The team missed out on the playoffs, but the blowout proved to be the turning point in Marty's rebuilding efforts and the team went to the playoffs for the next six consecutive seasons.
The 1999 blowout seemed to have a negative impact on the team. KC owned a 4-2 mark before trashing the Chargers 34-0. The team, however, went on a three-game losing streak before rebounding with a four-game winning streak. The team, however, then lost its remaining two games to finish out of the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
The team opened the 2001 season by losing its first two games. KC then smashed Washington 45-13 before embarking on a four-game losing streak. In the last nine games, KC put up a 5-4 mark to finish at 6-10.
So there you have it. The indicators are good that the Chiefs will get a beneficial carry over into the game this coming Sunday against Indianapolis, but don't expect a boost that affects the rest of the season.