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December to Remember

Posted Dec 1, 2010

Returning December dominance to Arrowhead Stadium

There was a time when Arrowhead Stadium stood impossible to conquer. When the calendar struck December 1st, the Chiefs became unstoppable for 31 straight days. Arrowhead was cold. Arrowhead was deafening. Arrowhead was victorious.  

From 1995-2006, the Chiefs posted a ridiculous 21-2 (.913) December record at Arrowhead. No matter the season, no matter the standings, Arrowhead owned December. At one point during that 11-year span, the Chiefs won 18 consecutive December home games. From 1983-2006, the Chiefs never lost back-to-back home games in December.

The time was dominant.

Since the 2007 season, however, the Chiefs have yet to win a December contest at home. During the final month of the year, Kansas City has combined to go 0-7 at Arrowhead over the past three seasons.

 While the franchise went into a win-starved spiral from 2007-2009, Arrowhead’s December advantage evaporated.

The 2010 season has been a resurgence of sorts for the Chiefs; not only on the field, but at Arrowhead as well. The two probably go hand-in-hand with one another and the Chiefs unbeaten home record is a big reason that the team finds itself in the middle of division championship talk this late in the season.

With three of the remaining five games at Arrowhead, and a surging San Diego squad nipping furiously at Kansas City’s heels, turning in a December to remember isn’t an option. It’s mandatory.

“The focus, preparation, all those things need to be at their highest level and the games are just going to get bigger and this game this week will be our biggest game to-date,” Coach Todd Haley said.

Kansas City enters its final five-game stretch of the season with an identical setup to the last five from Dick Vermeil’s final campaign in 2005: a 7-4 record with three of five at home (home, away, away, home, home). That final game, of course, is played in January.

The Chiefs swept the table at Arrowhead in 2005, but dropped both of their December road games to finish 10-6 and miss the playoffs. At the time, the Chiefs were only the fourth team since 1990 to miss the postseason with a 10-6 record.

Would a 10-6 record propel the Chiefs into the 2010 playoffs? Who knows? It’s all hypothetical. The Matt Cassel-led 2008 Patriots became just the second team in two decades of football to miss the dance with an 11-5 regular season record.

It’s impossible to know exactly how the rest of the season will play out across the conference, regardless of who’s currently hot or cold as we enter December. All that’s certain is that sweeping the final slate of home games will put the Chiefs in a position that they want to be in.

“The good thing is that we have a couple and now the most important thing is that we get our minds right and focused on this (Denver) team that is going to come in here Sunday and they kicked the crap out of us (last time),” Haley said.

This is the time of year that each of the NFL’s 32 team have worked for. Some won’t get to see the sweat of summer and dedication of spring workouts hit pay dirt. The Chiefs are one of a handful of teams that still has that chance.

Everyone in the postseason hunt is readying for this final stretch of football.

“Everything we do is about winning in December and January,” Jets Coach Rex Ryan said.  “That’s where we've got to be at our best. I have all the confidence in the world that we can do exactly that. We push our guys in the weight room. That’s so we can be stronger in December and January. We actually make some gains in the season. It’s not just about staying where we are. We actually try to make gains. We think that’s an advantage to our football team later in the year.”

There’s no doubt that those same feelings are shared in Kansas City. Playoff teams are built to win in December. It’s a time where no one is at 100% as the stakes increase each and every Sunday.

The NFL calendar has turned its page to December. It’s time for that Arrowhead Advantage to re-appear. It must if the Chiefs plan to extend their season.

Here’s how the rest of the season looks for each of the remaining AFC teams currenlty in the playoff picture.

AFC EAST

TEAM

NY JETS (9-2)

NEW ENGLAND (9-2)

MIAMI (6-5)

OPP. RECORD

33-22 (.600)

32-23 (.582)

26-29 (.473)

WEEK 13

at New England (9-2)

NY Jets (9-2)

Cleveland (4-7)

WEEK 14

Miami (6-5)

at Chicago (8-3)

at NY Jets (9-2)

WEEK 15

at Pittsburgh (8-3)

Green Bay (7-4)

Buffalo (2-9)

WEEK 16

at Chicago (8-3)

at Buffalo (2-9)

Detroit (2-9)

WEEK 17

Buffalo (2-9)

Miami (6-5)

at New England (9-2)

AFC NORTH

TEAM

BALTIMORE (8-3)

PITTSBURGH (8-3)

OPP. RECORD

27-28 (.491)

24-31 (.436)

WEEK 13

Pittsburgh (8-3)

at Baltimore (8-3)

WEEK 14

at Houston (5-6)

Cincinnati (2-9)

WEEK 15

New Orleans (8-3)

NY Jets (9-2)

WEEK 16

at Cleveland (4-7)

Carolina (1-10)

WEEK 17

Cincinnati (2-9)

at Cleveland (4-7)

AFC SOUTH

TEAM

JACKSONVILLE (6-5)

INDIANAPOLIS (6-5)

HOUSTON (5-6)

TENNESSEE (5-6)

OPP. RECORD

26-29 (.473)

24-31 (.436)

29-26 (.527)

30-25 (.545)

WEEK 13

at Tennessee (5-6)

Dallas (3-8)

at Philadelphia (7-4)

Jacksonville (6-5)

WEEK 14

Oakland (5-6)

at Tennessee (5-6)

Baltimore (8-3)

Indianapolis (6-5)

WEEK 15

at Indianapolis (6-5)

Jacksonville (6-5)

at Tennessee (5-6)

Houston (5-6)

WEEK 16

Washington (5-6)

at Oakland (5-6)

at Denver (3-8)

at Kansas City (7-4)

WEEK 17

at Houston (5-6)

Tennessee (5-6)

Jacksonville (6-5)

at Indianapolis (6-5)

AFC WEST

TEAM

KANSAS CITY (7-4)

SAN DIEGO (6-5)

OAKLAND (5-6)

OPP. RECORD

24-31 (.436)

21-34 (.382)

28-27 (.509)

WEEK 13

Denver (3-8)

Oakland (5-6)

at San Diego (6-5)

WEEK 14

at San Diego (6-5)

Kansas City (7-4)

at Jacksonville (6-5)

WEEK 15

at St. Louis (5-6)

San Francisco (4-7)

Denver (3-8)

WEEK 16

Tennessee (5-6)

at Cincinnati (2-9)

Indianapolis (6-5)

WEEK 17

Oakland (5-6)

at Denver (3-8)

at Kansas City (7-4)

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