Worst-to-first Chiefs chasing history

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When it comes to teams coming off a horrible campaign and posting a turnaround season, the Chiefs are defying history by clearing and establishing a new blueprint to climb from the bottom to the top.

Barring an epic collapse, the Chiefs are going to playoffs.

Oct 27, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs do the chop to show support during the second half of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 27, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs do the chop to show support during the second half of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

They would be just the third team that went 2-14 or worse one season and made the playoffs the next year, joining the 2011-12 Indianapolis Colts and the 2007 Miami Dolphins.

The Chiefs are already doing those teams one better with their 8-0 start.

No team with a new starting quarterback, a new head coach or the worst team in the league the year before has won eight games to start a season.

Of the 20 teams who have gone 8-0, all of them made the playoffs, 12 won their conference title and eight won the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs are a long way from that, but they have separated themselves from the pack significantly.

It almost every measurement the best comparison for the 2013 Chiefs are last year’s Colts and the 2007 Dolphins. A new quarterback and a new head coach set the stage for both dramatic improvements.

These three teams make you wonder why every team that goes 2-14 or worse doesn’t clean house immediately. In a league where the intent is to create balance and parity, winning two or fewer games can really only be done with the greatest of incompetence more so than just bad luck.

Then again, the Chiefs did the same thing following the 2008 season, and it did result in a playoff bid in 2010. As we know, the success was fleeting.

There are a couple of long-term turnaround the Chiefs can hope to emulate, not just for this year but for the seasons ahead. Since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978, 38 teams have won two or fewer games.

Ten of those seasons belong to the Lions, the creamsickle Buccaneers and the post-Greatest Show on Turf Rams. Others include expansion teams such as the 1999 Browns and teams that lost their star quarterback to another team (the Warren Moon-less 1994 Oilers went from 12 wins to two in a flash).

Most really bad teams were disasters that took years to rebuild.  Two of them (1990 Patriots and 1996 Jets) had to call on Bill Parcells to right the boat. The 1984-85 Bills that won two games each season were distant cousins from the 1990s Bills dynasty.

But two franchises on the list stand out, and are what the Chiefs truly aim to be.

In 1978, the San Francisco 49ers went 2-14, blew through two head coaches and built the character of Steve DeBerg. In 1979, Bill Walsh came to town, drafted Joe Montana … and still went 2-14.

But two years removed from that 2-14 season, they were Super Bowl champs, running the offense that is the grandfather of Andy Reid’s version of the West Coast Offense.

In 1989, the vaunted Dallas Cowboys under first-year head coach Jimmy Johnson and rookie quarterback Troy Aikman went 1-15. Three years later, they won the first of their back-to-back titles.

Matching the 2012 Colts and 2008 Dolphins in the playoffs would be nice. But the Chiefs are really chasing the 49ers and Cowboys.

From the depths of futility a dynasty can rise.