Press Box: Rams, Chiefs can make a little history
News Tribune sports commentary
Sunday, December 29, 2013
As the NFL regular season comes to a close today, it has me hoping there will be two more things that come to a close soon.
I’m talking specifically about the fortunes of the two pro football teams in the Show-Me State. There’s two streaks in play currently that need to go away, and as soon as possible.
Let’s begin with the St. Louis Rams.
With the regular season winding down, alas, that means the Rams’ season as a whole is also winding down. When St. Louis travels to Seattle today, the Rams will be playing for something, even if it’s a small goal in the scheme of things.
You see, the Rams will be looking for a victory that will push them to that elusive goal of a .500 season.
Doesn’t sound like much? You’re right. Except for the fact it’s kind of a big thing for the franchise. Why? For the simple fact St. Louis is looking to avoid its seventh straight losing season. After the 8-8 season of 2006 is where the streak begins, and it gets even worse if you decide to see how long it’s been since the Rams finished above .500. Skipping over another 8-8 season in 2004, you have to go all the way back to the 12-4 campaign of 2003 until you find one.
My, how the goals have changed in the Gateway City. It’s not that long ago the Rams were winning one Super Bowl (1999) and appearing in another (2001). Now they can’t even get reach the .500 mark? Stunning.
Sure, this is far from the worst streak in sports. But it still would be nice to see it go away. Today brings a chance for the Rams to at least even their record at 8-8, although it’s a daunting task. Not only do they have to travel to Seattle, one of the toughest places to play in the entire league, and it’s a against a Seahawks team with a lot to play for.
Seattle is not playing for a playoff berth, as the Seahawks clinched that long ago. But they are playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs — and it definitely is an advantage for them — and they need a win or tie to do that. They could also get it if the San Francisco 49ers lose or tie at Arizona, but you can bet the Seahawks just want to take care of business on their own.
Let’s just say I’m not optimistic.
Which leads me to another streak I’m not optimistic about. That would be the playoff futility of the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs, already locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC for the playoffs, will close out the regular season with a meaningless contest at San Diego against the Chargers before taking aim at the next hurdle.
Maybe hurdle isn’t the best word for it, since those are relatively easy to clear for those in track and field. This is more like trying to clear 20 feet in the pole vault.
That’s because the Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since they topped the Houston Oilers by a 28-20 score way back on Jan. 16, 1993. That’s so long ago they’re not even the Oilers anymore, moving to Tennessee in 1997 and becoming the Tennessee Oilers for two years before changing to the Tennessee Titans in 1999.
While 1993 might not seem like that long ago for some of you, let me put that in perspective. I was less than a year out of college and had yet to start working for the News Tribune. I did start at the paper later that year, and I just celebrated my 20-year anniversary with the NT on Friday. So trust me, that’s a long time ago.
While the Chiefs haven’t exactly been loaded up with chances to end that streak, making just six one-and-out playoff appearances since 1993, it sure would be nice to see that skid come to a halt.
The only problem is the Chiefs haven’t exactly been inspiring confidence lately. We’ve gone from not expecting much of them (after going 2-14 last season), to getting swept up in their potential (after a 9-0 to start), to becoming a little wary of them (after going 2-4 in their last six).
There’s a good chance of a loss today since they’ll be resting key personnel, so the Chiefs will likely head into the playoffs having won just two of their final seven games. Maybe they can halt that skid and end another streak with a playoff win. Maybe.
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