If there's one problem with winning so often it's that you can become numb to it. All of a sudden, an 11-win season accompanied by a Wild Card berth feels cheap, stale, and even unexciting. The results of which are sure to leave fans disappointed if the ultimate prize is not achieved. For a team like the Kansas City Chiefs, it's Super Bowl or bust... every year.
Expectations can be this high when you have a future Hall of Fame quarterback and generational talent like Patrick Mahomes. It's not a stretch to say that trading up to the 10th overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is the best decision this franchise ever made. It's hardly debatable that anything else comes close.
From 2013 to 2017, Kansas City averaged ten-and-a-half wins per season and only missed the playoffs once. They were a competitive team with Alex Smith at the helm, and the veteran quarterback boasted the highest passer rating of his career (104.7) in 2017. This came after trading up for Mahomes.
Despite perennial playoff berths, the Chiefs were stuck in a rut with Smith running the show, and kudos to Kansas City for recognizing that he was never going to be enough to get this team back to the Super Bowl.
These days, however, regular-season almost wins feel meaningless, as you can pencil the Chiefs in for a playoff spot in the AFC every year. Getting knocked out in the Wild Card round has become a thing of the past and something that hasn't occurred since before Mahomes took the reigns.
Now put yourself in the shoes of a fan whose team isn't in the thick of a dynasty but has tasted plenty of success in the past. For the Steelers, lofty Super Bowl aspirations are nothing more than a distant memory.
The Steelers are riding the struggle bus with mediocre QB play
New England Patriots fans from the past decade can relate to Chiefs fans right now. But that's about it when it comes to the modern football era. For everyone else, chasing a Super Bowl victory each year is hardly an attainable goal, and the reason is simple: they don't have a franchise quarterback that will ever be enough.
There is no greater example of this than the current Pittsburgh Steelers. In 18 years with Ben Roethlisberger leading the charge, this franchise won the Super Bowl twice. When they did, however, it required the best defense in the league and a pair of DPOY recipients (Troy Polamalu and James Harrison) to aid arguably the greatest quarterback in franchise history to victory.
The same can be said about Terry Bradshaw the former Steel Curtain dynasty of the 70s. It's because of these two eras that the Steelers are tied with the Patriots for the NFL lead in Super Bowl victories and have the best win percentage in the league since the merger (61.2 percent).
Nowadays, being a Steelers fan could not be more discouraging. Owner Art Rooney II and head coach Mike Tomlin are far more concerned with being competitive each year than they are about finding a franchise quarterback that can compete with the cream of the crop in the AFC.
After Big Ben retired in 2021, the Steelers found themselves with a need at quarterback, and they fixated on Kenny Pickett (who played five seasons of college football in their shared stadium at Pitt). To Pittsburgh, filling a need was more important thoroughly vetting the process and finding a talent quarterback who could potentially go toe-to-toe with Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes in the AFC. Instead of exercising patience in a bad QB draft class, selecting Pickett was the equivalent of trying to fix a sinking ship with Gorilla Tape.
Now the Steelers are just another statistic -- one of many teams stuck in quarterback limbo with no sign of relief from their mediocrity. Coach Tomlin's saying, 'The standard is the standard', has taken on a whole new meaning. Pittsburgh has found themselves business of playing to earn a winning record as they routinely rely on outside help in the final week of the season to enter the playoffs (only to get embarrassed in the Wild Card Round).
It doesn't matter what type of roster the Steelers assemble around their signal-caller. They will never compete for a Super Bowl again in the modern era without a franchise quarterback.
No other team has a Patrick Mahomes
Take it from a Steelers fan: the ride at the top can end quickly. While Ben Roethlisberger was never considered the best quarterback in the league, things got significantly worse from an aging Big Ben until now. This once-prestigious franchise has earned just 3 playoff wins in the past 13 years. Now their hope in returning to a Super Bowl rests in the hands of a quarterback who will have just 13 touchdown passes in 25 games before his 26th birthday.
I know that anything less than a Super Bowl victory feels like a failure for Chiefs fans, but soak it up. Enjoy every snap that Mahomes takes. One day in the not-too-distant future, this run of dominance will end, and Kansas City could find themselves back in quarterback purgatory.
Take pride in your generational quarterback and the dynasty that he has created for the Chiefs. Most of all, take comfort in knowing that no other team has a Patrick Mahomes.