Four teams standing in the way of KC Chiefs’ Super Bowl hopes

Head Coach Andy Reid, Travis Kelce #87 and Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Head Coach Andy Reid, Travis Kelce #87 and Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 21: Quarterback Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals signals during the second half of a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Bengals defeated the Raiders 32-13. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

Cincinnati Bengals

There will undoubtedly be a number of readers who expected to see another AFC North team on this list. The Ravens defeated the Chiefs in Week 2 by one point and now maintain the top overall seed in the AFC. Surely they’re an obvious pick for one of the Chiefs biggest obstacles in the conference? I’d have to disagree, rather strongly.

The Chiefs only lost to the Ravens because of sloppiness, not because the Ravens dominated them. Add the fact that twice in the last five weeks the Ravens have been bludgeoned to death and twice have squeaked by very bad football teams, and you can see where I’m coming from. It’s conceivable to think the Ravens lose a couple more games and make an early exit from the 2021 playoffs.

The Cincinnati Bengals, however, have shown some serious upside. They have been inconsistent, but are currently sitting at sixth in points per game on offense and sixth in points per game on defense. They’ve gone toe to toe with the Packers and the last two weeks have beaten the Raiders and the Steelers by a combined 50 points.

The major caveat is their distinctive inconsistency. While they have produced unlike any Bengals team in recent memory, giving their dejected fanbase some serious hope for the first time in years, they have laid a few concerning eggs as well. The Bengals lost to the Bears, barely beat the Jaguars, and lost in hapless fashion to the Jets. The Bengals are up-and-comers but not quite Super Bowl or even maybe playoff contenders at this point.

The real obstacle for the Chiefs here is regaining the top-seed in the AFC. The Chiefs don’t need home field advantage to make it back to the Super Bowl, but it makes things a lot easier. If nothing else, the Bengals are a team on the right day that could make that goal much more difficult.