Welcome to the 20th edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race in the Perspective of Chase’, an almost daily article on your favorite NFL team. We have wrote about some contenders like the Buccaneers, Ravens, Packers and others. But the Chiefs may be the best contender of them all! The Chiefs have hosted four straight AFC championships, and made two Super Bowls since 2018. They’ve had the single handed most dominant offense in the NFL in this time span. But with Tyreek Hill going to South Beach and Tyraan Mathieu in New Orleans, can Kansas City continue a dominant stretch, and possibly host and/or make a fifth straight AFC championship and maybe get back to being on the top of the NFL world? Lets, get into this!
Real quick before we do I would like to let you know that we are doing something very similar to this on the Cool Sports Newsletter for the NBA, and we are doing also doing position rankings for the NFL on there if you want to check those things out!
The Kansas City Chiefs, after a 10-6 record in 2016, didn’t exactly feel secure at the quarterback position, as Alex Smith was entering the end of his prime. So the Chiefs, who had the 27th pick in the 2017 NFL draft, traded that 1st, along with a 3rd round pick and a 2018 1st round pick, for the Buffalo Bills 10th overall pick. That 27th pick ended up being Tre’Davious White, whose considered to be on the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and that 1st round pick the next season from Kansas City (22nd overall) was traded up to Baltimore’s 16th pick where Buffalo selected 2x Pro Bowler Tremaine Edmunds. However, that 10th overall pick ended up being the biggest pick of them all, as the Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes to eventually become their quarterback once they moved on from Alex Smith. Mahomes started the final game of the 2017 season for Kansas City, throwing one interception in a win over Denver. In 2018, Kansas City traded Smith to Washington and let Mahomes take over.
The 2nd year quarterback threw for 50 touchdowns, which is the 2nd most for a player ever in a season. He led the Chiefs to a 12-4 record and the #1 seed in the AFC. They did end up losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots in the AFC championship hosted in Kansas City, but there was no reason why they couldn’t get to that Super Bowl winning point in 2019. And they did! The Madden 19 cover athlete’s statistics dropped, but another 12-4 record, except this time a #2 seed ended up being the year. Mahomes and the Chiefs came back from down 24-0 against the Texans, then beat the cinderella run Titans, on their way to the Super Bowl to face the 13-3 San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs indeed came back again, and captured their first Super Bowl win since 1969!
In 2020, Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill had aspirations to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Kansas City went 14-2 in 2020, Mahomes statistics looked amazing, Hill and Kelce balled out, and Kansas City was once again the #1 seed. A win over the Cleveland Browns allowed them to host their 3rd straight AFC championship against the Buffalo Bills, where Mahomes casually led them to a two possession win. But in the Super Bowl, Mahomes ran into Tom Brady and the Buccaneers who held Mahomes to just nine points and a 22 point loss in the Super Bowl. Again contenders, the Chiefs struggled early in the 2021 season, 3-4 to be exact. But an eight game winning streak and a closeout season win over the Broncos, gave the Chiefs a 12-5 record, as the #2 seed in the AFC. They cruised by an overachieving Steelers to play Buffalo again but this time in the divisional round. The game was tight all night long, and the Bills had a field goal lead with 13 seconds left to go…but Patrick Mahomes had 13 seconds! And in 13 seconds, he got into field goal range, then went to overtime and casually threw the game winning touchdown pass to Travis Kelce! They hosted their 4th straight AFC championship and took a 21-3 lead, but a cinderella run Bengals made a tremendous comeback and defeated them in overtime off a Mahomes interception.
Going into the offseason, the Chiefs were once again labeled as contenders for the 2022 season. But then a crazy trade went down before the draft. A 6x Pro Bowl selection, 3x 1st team All Pro selection who has four separate 1,000 yard receiving seasons and has accumulated 6,630 career receiving yards all with Kansas City on his way to a Hall of Fame type career, Tyreek Hill, was traded to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2022 1st round pick, 2022 2nd round pick, 2022 4th round pick and 2023 4th and 6th round picks. The Dolphins also decided to give Hill a 4 year, $120 million deal, with $250,000 in Pro Bowl incentives each season. No one quite knows why Hill wanted out of Kansas City, after continuous success with the team, but all Kansas City was focused on is finding a replacement.
The Hill deal happened in late March. Not even a month later, Kansas City started to make more moves to improve the roster. They signed Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and Packers wide receiver Marques Valdes-Scantling to deals. JuJu is on a 1 year, $3.7 million deal. The 2018 Pro Bowler has not lived up to expectations after putting up 1,426 yards in that 2018 season and that was with Antonio Brown as well. His best receiving season since has been 831 yards in 2020. However, with one of if not the best quarterback in the game and a #1 option, he can improve significantly. They also signed Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but to a 3 year, $30 million deal. Valdes-Scantling is coming off 690 and 430 receiving yard seasons, basically being a gigantic upgrade from Demarcus Robinson, who has found his way in Baltimore after a short stunt with no games played in Las Vegas. They also still have Mecole Hardman in the receiving game.
In the draft, they continued to add more receivers, drafting Skyy Moore in the 2nd round. In the 1st round, Kansas City drafted Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie to improve the secondary after losing Tyraan Mathieu. In my opinion, McDuffie or Lewis Cine were the two guys I think that Kansas City should have taken. Late in the 1st round, they took in my opinion at top twenty ceiling player in this year’s draft, George Karlaftis, even though Cine wouldn’t have been a bad pick. I had Karlaftis drafted 14th in my NFL Mock Draft before the draft. They did get some help at safety, taking Bryan Cook late in the 1st round. They also took Isiah Pacheco in the 7th round who has a lot of upside and is expected to get some playing time for Kansas City this season.
They lost Darrel Williams in free agency, but Edwards-Helaire should be ready to break out in year three, after his first two seasons have been cut short due to injury. A big question was whether or not they would sign Orlando Brown Jr. to an extension, after giving up the pick that ended up being Odafe Oweh to Baltimore to get him. Oweh forced a fumble on Edwards-Helaire in after getting by Brown in Week 2 against Baltimore. The Chiefs decided to just franchise tag him, and worry about the problems in next offseason.
But that is the team you see. Can they have the same success. The running game isn’t proven. They don’t have as many good wide receivers with JuJu as the #1 option. The defense took a significant regression and who knows how much more Chris Jones has in the tank, even though he has been playing consistently amazing football over the past four seasons. But at the same time, they have still have Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. And Mahomes can work with any receivers because of his amazing improvising ability. I expect Edwards-Helaire to progress (even though I wouldn’t consider it a great season) and Travis Kelce is still Travis Kelce, even though my boy Mark Andrews stole that 1st team All Pro spot last season.
The question now becomes how will they compete in a tough division. The Chargers traded for Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson. The Raiders traded for Davante Adams and Chris Jones. And the Broncos traded for Russell Wilson! They have a division where all teams are playoff caliber teams. Even though some doubt it, I still have Kansas City taking home the AFC South title for the 7th straight season. Even more impressive, I have Kansas City finishing 13-4 as the #1 seed, which would be their 2nd best record ever under Mahomes! I have them splitting with the rest of the division and also losing to San Francisco before the bye, making this a very casual fall for Chiefs fans. I have them hosting their 5th straight AFC championship game, but a loss to Baltimore will send Chiefs fans home crying. But another impressive season under Mahomes, but not quite back to the Super Bowl.
My prediction: The Chiefs finish 13-4 and as the #1 seed, but a last second game winning stop from Baltimore in AFC championship hosted by Kansas City for the 5th straight year sends them back to the drawing board in the 2023 offseason!
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