Super Bowl win will be Kansas City Chiefs only metric for success

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs enters the field with his team before the start of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 19, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs enters the field with his team before the start of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 19, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs have a clear path to the only thing that matters, which is why it’s Super Bowl or bust for this year’s roster—without excuses.

No excuses this year: anything less than a Super Bowl is a failure for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs have a defense that’s peaking at the right time, and an offense that hasn’t peaked yet is still top five. This alone highlights just how great the Chiefs’ offense. Chiefs fans have questioned the offense all year as if they’re basement dwellers, and they’re a top five offense.

So no excuses, they must win the Super Bowl.

Okay, fine. If there are significant injuries to key players or the entire team comes down with some rare viral infection then there might be an excuse. But as long as this team is reasonably healthy, even a Super Bowl loss will be a failure to accomplish what they are capable of and what they should.

I don’t need to remind anyone that last year this team had an AFC title wrapped up before it was undone by a Dee Ford offsides penalty. With a defense that was playing infinitely worse than the current squad is, the Chiefs had the AFC in their grasp. If this defense was a part of last season’s team, they may have gone 19-0.

Inexperience can no longer be a factor going into the postseason. The rest of the offense had already been through playoff heartbreak multiple times, but the 2018 season was Mahomes’ first taste of win-or-go-home NFL football as a starting quarterback and the team’s leader. He’s now seen and felt how playoff football is different, so there is no reason to expect anything short of sustained excellence out of him. The defense is young, but outside of their rookies, even their newest and most important pieces—Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark—have played to January enough for everything other than a Super Bowl to be old hat.

One of the new narratives bubbling around the Chiefs fan base, particularly on Twitter, is the idea that the offense dropping from its otherworldly status last season to merely great is the absence of Kareem Hunt.

I don’t need to get into the nitty gritty of why elite running backs don’t matter as much as they once did, or why the perceptions of the importance, impact, and usefulness of the running game as a whole is stuck in the past and does not reflect the NFL of 2020. Smarter people who can crunch advanced statistics and create fancy, colorful charts and graphs are way better than that than me.

Instead, I’ll simply say this; if the Chiefs do not win the Super Bowl this year, it will not be because they don’t have Kareem Hunt. Hunt was uniquely talented and a lot of fun to watch, but that unique talent came at the ultimate luxury postion of the NFL. An elite running back in an already elite offense is like heated seats in a $100,000 sports car—it’s going to run just fine without them, they just make you feel more comfortable.

Last season, the Chiefs were less the Chiefs than they were The Patrick Mahomes Show featuring his sidekick: 52 Other Guys Dressed in Red. The Baltimore Ravens are currently experiencing the same thing with Lamar Jackson. It’s like a sequel in black and purple. This season, the Chiefs feel scary as a collective. The double-edged sword of Mahomes as such a singular focus is gone, and the team functions better as a unit because of it. You can tell, particularly on defense, that there is an intensity and an intent that wasn’t there in 2018. It’s a lot more “let’s get the ball back for the offense” and a lot less “well, if we screw up Pat will bail us out.”

The offense hasn’t been otherworldly because it hasn’t had to be.

The Ravens are the only real brick wall between the Chiefs and the Super Bowl, but it’s a brick wall they should be able to break through. While the Ravens of right now are better than the Ravens of 2018 or even three months ago, the Chiefs have beaten the Jackson-led Ravens twice now. The Ravens’ offense is built to get ahead and play with a lead; the Chiefs’ offense is the perfect counter to that. A single defensive stop and the Chiefs’ offense can have the Ravens playing catchup all game, and they aren’t optimized for that.

That’s what makes the Chiefs so dangerous. They’re optimized for any situation. They can easily have you down 21 in the blink of an eye, but if you manage to have them down by 21, they can still have you beat in the final moments before you know what hit you. The perception is Mahomes is a reckless gunslinger, but that perception allows him to kill teams with screens and dinking and dunking when they commit to taking away the deep ball. The Chiefs will take what you give them until you slip up and leave any one of their streaking receivers a window the size of thimble. Then you’re screwed.

Now the defense is beginning to feel disruptive and opportunistic, which is all they need to be. The don’t need to continue on their elite tear they’ve been on; they just need to make a few plays a game that turn the tide in the offense’s favor. That’s all that’s ever been missing for this team. Now they have it.

I feel like I’m setting myself up for the worst Chiefs playoff heartbreak yet, but that’s just the past talking, and the past has zero to do with the present. The only playoff past that impacts this team is last season’s, and even then, most of the current defense is new. The rest of the Chiefs’ worst playoff misery is just a weightless ghost that haunts only fans and has no qualms with the players currently donning the arrowhead logo.

It’s Super Bowl or bust.

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