Kansas City, Mo. The Cincinnati Bengals firmly believe they’re still on the road to respectability, just as the Kansas City Chiefs are wondering if they’ll ever hit rock bottom.
One thing is certain: There could be a lot of people wearing black inside Arrowhead Stadium when the teams meet today.
The Bengals, coming off a confidence-boosting win over the Giants last weekend, visit a disheveled Chiefs team that’s floundered to six straight losses. Kansas City still has only led in regulation once this season, and its only win came after a franchise-record comeback.
“They’re going to come in here and feel like they have a good chance to win another game,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said, “but if we work on our attitude, our effort and the things we did Monday night, clean up one or two things, I think we’re going to play good. That’s the focus.”
Been the focus all season, too.
It hasn’t mattered.
Kansas City’s latest letdown came last Monday night, when it rallied in the final minutes to force overtime at Pittsburgh. Matt Cassel promptly threw an interception after the Chiefs won the coin toss, once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Chiefs (1-8) were expected to contend for the AFC West this season. Instead, they’ve committed a league-leading 30 turnovers, suffered season-ending injuries to three starters, had both of their quarterbacks go down with concussions, and shown a startling lack of professionalism.
That became evident Monday night, when the Chiefs were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a group dance celebration following a touchdown that ultimately never happened.
Little wonder there’s such unrest in Kansas City.
Long one of the NFL’s most passionate fan bases, Chiefs supporters have turned increasingly hostile in recent weeks. Twice fans have paid for banners to be flown behind airplanes asking for general manager Scott Pioli to be fired — they haven’t gotten their wish yet — and today, they’re expected to come dressed in black to mourn another lost season.
They should blend in well with all the Bengals fans dressed in black and orange.
“We’re frustrated. Everybody is frustrated. None of us envisioned this, or none of us want to be 1-8, and the fans are frustrated as well,” said Cassel, who lost his job to Brady Quinn, only to get it right back when Quinn sustained his second concussion three weeks ago.
Quinn still had not been cleared early in the week, meaning Cassel will start today.
“At the same time, we have a job to do,” Cassel continued, “and we’re going to go out there and do our job to the best of our ability.
“Hopefully, that results in a win and we can change the atmosphere and the environment around here.”