The K.C. Chiefs have so far endured a turbulent, frustrating, and disappointing season. A team with ambitions of making its third-straight Super Bowl is now at risk of missing the playoffs altogether. But if Chiefs fans are feeling troubled about their team this season, they can find hope from an unexpected source: the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves won their first World Series title in 26 years this week when they beat the Houston Astros four games to two, capping off an incredible and unlikely season.
For much of the year, Atlanta was mediocre. They spent most of the season below .500, and they looked like outsiders to even make the playoffs, let alone win their division. Sound familiar? Atlanta’s season should serve as an inspiration for the Chiefs, an example of what can be achieved even when things look lost.
The Braves are a case study for the Chiefs of what can still be achieved, even when things look dire.
Comparing their seasons, Kansas City and Atlanta share some striking similarities.
Much like what the Chiefs are living through right now, Atlanta struggled during the regular season. Despite being favorites to win their division, the Braves spent most of the year playing unremarkable baseball. They did not have a winning record for the first time until August 6, more than two-thirds of the way through the season. At their lowest point, they had just a 14.3% chance of making the playoffs and a minuscule 0.7% chance of winning the World Series, according to Baseball Reference.
And yet, they did both.
The Chiefs are in a similar position. They haven’t been above .500 since their win in Week One against Cleveland, they sit third in their division in the AFC West, and they find themselves as outsiders to even make the playoffs. But like the Braves were able to do, K.C. still has an opportunity to turn their season around.
After their win over the Washington Nationals on August 6 to move above .500, the Braves went 32-18 to end the season, their best run of the year. The Chiefs can do the same. A win this weekend against the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers would give K.C. a winning record and could serve as the springboard for a strong second half of the year.
The similarities continue, with both Atlanta and Kansas City active at their respective trade deadlines.
The Braves were forced to make a number of deals to rebuild their outfield after Ronald Acuña Jr suffered a season-ending injury and Marcell Ozuna was arrested for domestic violence. They acquired Jorge Soler from Kansas City, Adam Duvall from Miami, and Eddie Rosario from Cleveland—moves that would prove to be crucial. Duvall had two home runs in the World Series, while Rosario was crowned the NLCS MVP, and Soler won the World Series MVP.
Like Atlanta, the Chiefs signaled they were still all-in on this season at the deadline after making a pair of deals. They acquired Melvin Ingram from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a sixth-round pick and sent Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to the New York Jets in exchange for tight end Daniel Brown.
While these trades by Kansas City don’t make as big of a splash as Atlanta’s, they could still prove to be just as vital. The Chiefs’ defensive line has struggled all season and Ingram could finally be the key to them unlocking an effective pass rush. His experience in the AFC West could also prove invaluable, with five of Kansas City’s last nine games against divisional opponents. Brown hasn’t had a single reception all season and is likely just a replacement for the injured Jody Fortson, but who knows, maybe he will have a moment on special teams that holds the Chiefs.
Kansas City and Atlanta’s seasons have followed a similar path so far, but there is another key element the Chiefs can take away from the Braves’ success: hope.
Things were looking dire for the Braves during the regular season, and the situation is equally dire for the Chiefs right now too. But against the odds, Atlanta was able to turn their season around and go on to win a championship. The Braves were not the best team in baseball this year, but they were the best team when it mattered most – the playoffs. Their 88 wins were the fewest of any team to make the postseason, and yet they ended the year as World Series champions.
This is a pathway the Chiefs should look to follow, a perfect example of what can still be achieved even when a season looks all but lost. Like the Braves, Kansas City has the talent on their roster to be successful. Their form in the first half of the season does not matter; it is all about what they do from here. Being the best team in the regular season doesn’t win you the Super Bowl. Being the best team in the playoffs does.
The Chiefs still have time to fix their issues. They still have time to make adjustments, to finally hit their stride. Crucially, they still have the opportunity to make the playoffs. And if they can get there, the possibilities of success are sky-high.
Kansas City still has everything to play for. The Braves are a case study for the Chiefs of what can still be achieved, even when things look dire. There is still hope for Kansas City this season, and the Atlanta Braves are the perfect example.