4 young heroes who can carry the Kansas City Chiefs all the way (again)

Rashee Rice leads a group of young players on both sides of the ball capable of carrying the Chiefs to a repeat championship.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
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If the Kansas City Chiefs have dreams of a repeat performance of last season's Super Bowl run, it won't be the familiar faces who make it happen—at least not in the dominant way that Chiefs Kingdom has become accustomed to. Instead, it will likely be a new emerging core of young Chiefs players who get the job done, just as they did in the Wild Card round.

The Chiefs dominated the visiting Miami Dolphins in the opening round of the NFL postseason on Saturday with an evening that was far more lopsided than even the 26-7 score reveals. But instead of talking about Travis Kelce or Chris Jones, both of whom were important, the Chiefs were largely carried along by the youngest members of the roster, a mix of first- and second-year players from both sides of the ball who are taking the mantle from the elder players on the team.

The Chiefs look different than they have in years past and the record was not as great this season, but they're every bit as capable of making another Super Bowl run. And if they do, it will be these players who take responsibility for making it happen.

Rashee Rice, WR

Any discussion of young breakout players from the Chiefs' win over the Dolphins has to start with Rashee Rice.

The Chiefs drafted Rice in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of SMU with visions of developing him into a solid complementary receiver who could slide into the role vacated by JuJu Smith-Schuster last offseason. Rice profiled as a great contested catch receiver who generates significant yards after the catch.

It took some time for Rice to emerge from the pack as a primary target from the wide receiver room, but the second half has belonged to Rice alone as the primary pass catcher alongside tight end Travis Kelce. Rice averaged 7 catches for 86 yards in his final six games of the year, and he came within 60 yards of breaking the Chiefs rookie record for receiving yards in a single season.

On Saturday, Rice caught 8 catches for 130 yards and 1 touchdown and served as the primary offensive catalyst for the Chiefs. It almost looked as if Rice is now even more effective as an option than Kelce, and that's not a bad thing. The Chiefs desperately needed someone else to keep defenses honest, and Rice's emergence kept this offense from sinking entirely in the second half of the year.