The Kansas City Chiefs are 0-for-2 in their attempts to seal up the division and conference with a win. It’s time for them to finish what they started.
The Kansas City Chiefs began the season with a statement.
The offensive firepower was like nothing anyone had seen before. Patrick Mahomes, the team’s first-year starter at quarterback, had 10 touchdowns through two games. The addition of Sammy Watkins to line up beside Pro Bowlers like Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill proved to be on the field as productive as things looked on paper. If the NFL were to ever resemble fantasy football, the Chiefs were the team.
Remember those days? Those statement days? Those were the days when figuring out Mahomes’ nickname was the biggest issue, when even a porous defense still put together enough sacks and turnovers to make things right. Those were the days when statisticians were trying to figure out what historic teams the Chiefs resembled—are they better or worse than the Greatest Show on Turf?
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In those days, it wasn’t just the exciting new headlines around Mahomes that made things exciting. Older storylines were being replaced with new perspectives. Andy Reid was suddenly a brilliant and creative offensive mind who was finally being celebrated as such rather than answering constant concerns of clock management and conservative playcalling. Even lesser concerns like Tyreek Hill being celebrated as a wide receiver instead of a special teams player were being answered.
It was quite a ride.
Unfortunately December hit and, with it, somehow the Chiefs ability to make the same sorts of statements went by the wayside.
- The injuries to so many pieces of the once potent offense took their toll—the inside trio of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitch Morse and Cam Erving were all lost for multiple weeks, and the lack of Watkins allowed defenses to key in on the familiar faces.
- The loss of Kareem Hunt—and especially the way it happened—has clearly affected the Chiefs more than anyone will admit. It’s a tremendous loss of talent on the field, but it was jarring off the field for all parties involved.
- Stiffer than expected competition came against both the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. Good defensive teams have figured out how to at least slow the Chiefs, and that’s proven good enough when K.C.’s own defense will give away dozens of points as well.
For months, the Kansas City Chiefs sat atop their division and conference and never looked back—maintaining the pole position for the duration of the NFL’s regular season. That’s a difficult task reserved for Super Bowl favorites, and the Chiefs even had enough of a lead that they could squander it (as they have) and somehow still earn it all as if no slide ever took place.
The Chiefs are 0-for-2 in their attempts to seal up the AFC and their third straight division title. They picked the stretch run to put together their first consecutive losses of Mahomes’ career, and this timing feels eerily similar to other stretch runs—ones where the once-promising Chiefs fall apart or give away leads when it counts the most.
The Chiefs might have been able to officially claim the top spot in the AFC over the last two weeks, but the team also knew the honor would sit there like bread on a grocery shelf. The lack of urgency has been very concerning, as illustrated by the Chargers’ ability to sneak back and win at the last second. That was a game in which the Chiefs were up by two scores with less than five minutes left.
The Chiefs began the season with a statement that this year was different, that the franchise had turned a corner. Now, with the AFC at stake, they have a chance to seal that deal and to force the road to the Super Bowl to run through Kansas City.
If they somehow fail to defeat the Raiders on Sunday, it will be another statement made by the team—that demoralizing stretch runs are the norm and that fans would be silly to expect otherwise.