Who are the toughest teams the Chiefs will face in 2020?
The Kansas City Chiefs are the best team in the National Football League. That much was proven in early February in their historic comeback against the San Francisco 49ers. As they hoisted the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy in 50 seasons, it was clear the rest of the league was on notice. The Chiefs were for real.
Winning the first is anecdotally always referred to as the hardest. While I agree with this on the one hand, as winning the first gives you ultimate confidence you can win another, I think repeating is far more difficult. Teams who win are wined and dined in the offseason. Players and coaches are glorified, and egos begin to grow.
This type of mentality can prove detrimental even to teams with great individual players and coaches. With the pandemic eliminating a portion of the partying that likely would have occurred, I think this factor will be somewhat mitigated. Yet much more stands in the Chiefs way if they hope to repeat and etch their name in an even more selective group of teams with multiple Super Bowl victories.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a difficult schedule in 2020. Even though they’ve won four-straight divisional crowns, the AFC West has improved greatly throughout this offseason. Their non-divisional opponents pose a steep challenge to achieving a third straight first-round bye, something integral to winning it all. Let’s take a look at the Chiefs 2020 schedule and their three toughest opponents in the upcoming season.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints are the first on this list, and they are likely the least imposing. In my opinion, while Drew Brees has had an excellent and certainly Hall of Fame career, he doesn’t possess his early-career ability to take over a game. If the offense isn’t humming, he’s no longer prone to erasing that fact.
Regardless, the Saints have a number of top-tier weapons on offense. Even though the Chiefs defense improved by leaps and bounds in 2019, this will be a stiff challenge. Even more, the Saints proved to be a very balanced team last season with a nearly top-10 defense according to Football Outsider DVOA.
This game comes third-to-last this upcoming season, and with it being played in the intense environment of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it will be a good indicator of whether the Chiefs are ready to defend their crown come playoff time.
The 2019 Baltimore Ravens received the Kansas City Chiefs 2018 treatment from the national media, and rightfully so. Lamar Jackson had an electrifying season, making plays at the quarterback position like the public hadn’t seen since Michael Vick played in Atlanta. Even so, the Ravens petered out in the playoffs in their only game losing to Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans.
With Lamar Jackson taking home the 2019 NFL’s Most Valuable Player award, you can rightfully expect the media to be high on the Baltimore Ravens in 2020. The Ravens did nothing but improve their roster through the NFL Draft, and look poised to repeat at least their regular season performance from 2019.
The toughest part of this matchup will be playing on the road. M&T Bank Stadium is a raucous and intense environment, and one not kind to opposing teams when the Ravens are rolling. The Chiefs are easily the better team, but if they get off to a slow start, this game could become a bump in the road for the Chiefs attempts at repeating as Super Bowl Champions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’ll be the first to admit, though this seems to be a forgotten aspect in the national media, there is a significant amount of unknown when it comes to the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s likely they’ll be a preseason favorite in a number of circles, but are we sure the Jameis Winston-less Buccaneers will make huge strides in this upcoming season?
The biggest factor pushing most pundits over the edge is Tom Brady. The consensus greatest-of-all-time played his wild card this offseason and bolted from the wintry lands of Boston to the humidity of Florida. He’s undoubtedly the most decorated athlete in NFL history, but how much does he have left in the tank?
2019 was one of the least productive seasons Brady has had in a number of years, and with the pandemic and a brand new offense for the first time in 20 seasons, it’s reasonable to question whether his second NFL marriage with Bruce Arians will produce the same results as his first.
Even so, the Buccaneers are undoubtedly the most intriguing matchup the Chiefs have during the 2020 season. It’s late in the season, in the future home of the Super Bowl, and depending upon how each team has fared to that point it could indicate who the favorite is to hoist the 2020 Lombardi Trophy.