A quiet top seed
One effect of the Chiefs resting in Week 17, and playing a bit off in Week 16, is that the Chiefs enter the playoffs somewhat quietly. The Buffalo Bills’ inspired play, and the late season heroics of the Titans’ Derrick Henry seems to have moved the media spotlight off the Chiefs a bit. Add in the likely fact that Aaron Rodgers has usurped Mahomes for the MVP, and you can see how the Chiefs are have all the ingredients for the Chiefs’ rather noiseless entry into the playoffs.
This is probably exactly where the Chiefs want to be, though. After all, the Chiefs have seen this script before. Last seasonthe Chiefs entered the playoffs second-fiddle to the Baltimore Ravens and their MVP signal caller Lamar Jackson. We all know how this story ended.
Maybe this is the effect of excellence over time. The Chiefs aren’t overly lauded for a 14-2 record, simply because that record, rather than shattering any expectation, meets the standard. It might also explain why Andy Reid, who oversaw a 14-2 football operation in perhaps the most challenging season in NFL history is not getting any coach of the year nods. This phenomenon feels reminiscent to the Patriots dynasty. The novelty of success, at least from a national perspective, wears off, simply because the success is no longer novel. It’s the norm.
The Chiefs have turned in three truly exceptional seasons in a row. The cost of that sustained greatness is that the success is “normal”, even boring. The Bills are garnering a lot of hype because we haven’t seen a Bills team this dominant. It’s a “new” thing. And this is not to downplay the spectacular achievement of Buffalo, the startlingly great season of Rodgers, or the historically productive season by Derrick Henry.
The fact is, rather, that entering the playoffs quietly might just become the Chiefs’ M.O. Let’s hope history repeats itself this year. It’d be hard to call back-to-back Lombardis boring.