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Game Against the Cowboys Will Say a Lot About Chiefs’ Contender Status

If the Chiefs can take care of business at home against a premier opponent, it could indicate success come playoff time.

The narrative surrounding Sunday's Kansas City Chiefs vs. Dallas Cowboys matchup has mostly been centered around its interconference nature. These teams don't see each other very often and after Week 11, the earliest they could possibly do so again would be in the Super Bowl. If the Chiefs lose, it doesn't mean much. Right?

That's simply not the case.

Sure, dropping an NFC game doesn't hurt the Chiefs nearly as much as an AFC one does. When factoring in head-to-head and conference record tiebreakers for playoff seeding, the Cowboys game doesn't play a role there. By that logic, the Chiefs could lose on Sunday and although they'd drop in the overall standings, they could make that ground up and still earn other tiebreakers throughout the rest of the season. Marlow Ferguson Jr. of Arrowhead Report joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to discuss why regardless of this game's outcome, it will say a lot about how the Chiefs project long-term.

Of the Chiefs' four losses, all of them have been against AFC playoff hopefuls. The Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans all hold different spots in the playoff picture, but all are likely to qualify (the Chargers aren't in an extremely favorable spot, though). The Cowboys, while not an AFC team, figure to run away with the NFC East crown and earn a good playoff seed. They pose another test to a team that has failed many in 2021.

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With a win, the Chiefs could certainly be deemed "back." They'd be riding a four-game winning streak and be among the conference leaders in overall wins. Their resume would grow stronger, suggesting that they can beat top-flight talent when it matters the most. A Sunday victory takes the Chiefs from a team that hasn't earned trust to one that should be trusted by many.

With a loss, again, the Chiefs can absolutely come back and catch fire down the stretch. They can be riding high heading into the playoffs as possible AFC West champions. With that said, why should a team with so many losses to good or great teams be trusted? That isn't to say the Chiefs can't go on to win the Super Bowl or make a deep playoff run if they lose to the Cowboys, but it makes banking on them to do so an extremely risky proposition. 

It's fine to get caught up in wins and celebrate the success of the Chiefs as of late. If they win against one of the NFL's best, they should once again be considered to be in that group. If they lose, though, making a case for them among the league's elite — at any point for the rest of the season — would be tough to do. That aforementioned trust is earned, and the Chiefs have the opportunity to gain or lose a great deal of it on Sunday afternoon.

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Read More: Just Like That, the Chiefs Control Their Own Destiny in the AFC West