The "no one believes in us" rallying cry should have died a long time ago and yet it still persists. Half the time it is backed up by evidence. Half of the time it's complete nonsense. And that's being generous. One can only conclude that it continues because it's occasionally effective and be used to retroactively engineer an explanation for why one team won and the other did not. A cynical person could find themselves believing that the actual substance of the tired talking point doesn't matter and that long ago players adopted an almost Pavlovian response to buying into it hook, line, and sinker because it's simply become part of the preparation process.
A dance as harmless as it is annoying is two-stepping through the AFC right now, where the most talented and successful sides in football are being led to believe that no one outside their respective locker rooms think they are any good, setting up a situation where both the Bengals and Chiefs are being unfairly disrespected.
Here are two clips from the most recent Good Morning Football.
This is probably a stupid question without a real answer, yet I'll pose it anyway. Is belief a zero-sum game? Meaning, when one team is being disrespected, does that lack of respect automatically transfer to their opponent? If not, where does it go and how does it come back? How is it possible for there to be two teams competing for one win that no one thinks can happen?
Somehow in an era of advanced analytics we've failed to organize and quantify this. Gambling lines are instructive yet imperfect because even favorites have willingly greedily gobbled up all available chips to put on their shoulders. It's chaos that turns into an even more diluted disconnect from reality than it usually is.
The point, if there is one, is that we are long overdue for some sort of official metric detailing which side can utilize the motivation. At least publicly. Whatever coaches and players want to do behind closed doors is fine.
Also, it cannot be stated enough how ripe the market is for a young coach to establish themself as the hottest in the game by zigging while everyone else zags and birth the idea of "everyone believes in us." It's an idea so crazy and revolutionary it might just work.
In summation, no one believes in anyone.