How far back can we trace the history between the Cardinals and Chiefs? To November 22nd, 1970, the first season after the AFL/NFL merger (with 10 additional teams joining from the AFL). We're going to spend more time on this game than usual, not only because I remember it well, but because of all the factors that came into play that day -- not to mention the shortage of history between the two franchises in the 44 years since.
Played at Kansas City Municipal Stadium on a cool late afternoon, the defending Superbowl champion Chiefs (Superbowl IV being the last to be contested between the AFL and NFL champs) were led by a group of future Hall of Famers -- Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Curley Culp, Len Dawson, Emmitt Thomas and head coach Hank Stram (of '65 Toss Power Trap' fame).
But 1969 wasn't the first championship for the franchise who won their first of two AFL titles in 1962 as a team known as the Dallas Texans (who promptly relocated to Kansas City after being unable to compete with the newly formed Dallas Cowboys). The Chiefs hold the distinction of winning a 'Superbowl' without ever having won an NFL Championship, with Superbowl IV being referred to at the time as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
On the St. Louis Cardinals side of the ball, first you have to imagine the most aggressive, gambling, stunting, craziest, wild and woolly defense that ever snapped on chin-straps. Led of course by the Greatest Cardinal Ever, the Big Red entered the game riding a streak of three consecutive shutouts and gunning for a fourth!
Former Cardinals Jackie Smith and Roger Wehrli were two more future Hall of Fame members to play that day as well as the Cardinals' all-time leading passer Jim Hart. But to go far beyond being a mere Hall of Famer, the elite of the elite would have to be those selected to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, which that day included Kansas City's Willie Lanier and Jan Stenerud. The only Cardinal to receive this prestigious honor would be free safety (and innovator of the safety blitz) Larry 'Wildcat' Wilson who roamed the field that day.
With eleven future Hall of Fame members (three of which elected to the 75th year All-Time team), what was the result that day? A defensive battle with two first-half field goals by Jan Stenerud being matched with two second-half field goals from Jim Bakken (the Cardinals' all-time leading scorer) for a 6-6 tie. Not bad for the Cardinals on the road against the defending world champions, but breaking the shutout streak, although bumping consecutive games without allowing a touchdown to four.
Strangely enough, the third opponent this year that when we trace back to the first meeting of the series we find a tie game. Unfortunately, since that star-studded matchup, the Cardinals have been on the short end of the all-time series to trail the Chiefs 8-2-1.
The teams have never met in the postseason, but have several players who played for both teams including J.T. Smith, MacArthur Lane, Jim Otis, Steve Breaston, Vonnie Holliday, Mike Sensibaugh, Jay Feely and John Abraham, while former Cardinal Anthony Sherman will suit up to face his former teammates.
Notable moments in the all-time series
* St. Louis (nine) and Kansas City (six) combine for 15 turnovers, two shy of the NFL record, in the 38-14 Chiefs' 1983 victory over the Cardinals.
* David Boston snares seven passes from Jake Plummer for 131 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals' 24-16 victory over the Chiefs at Sun Devil Stadium in 2001. Michael Pittman rushes for 95 yards on 26 carries while Corey Chavous and Kwamie Lassiter pitch in with interceptions.
Other fun facts
* Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians' first NFL job was with Kansas City as the Chiefs' running backs coach for four seasons (1989-92).
* A nine year gap in meetings between the two franchises ('86-95'), resulted in the Chiefs never having faced the Phoenix Cardinals.
* The Cardinals' +59 point margin in the fourth quarter is the second-best in the NFL to Kansas City's +61 which ranks first.
* The Cards are undefeated at home this year and with a win, the Big Red would have the most home wins in a single season since 1925 (11), a year in which the team played 13 of its 14 games at home.
* The Chiefs have won the last three games in the all-time series, but outside of NFC West matchups since the beginning of the 2013 season, the Cardinals have compiled a perfect 9-0 record at home.
* Both teams are fighting for playoff hopes and riding two game losing streaks, but something has to give (unless of course they play to another tie).
For those interested in a listing of how (and when) the 32 current NFL teams came to be, visit NFL Team History