This season has been hard to stomach (and watch) for Kansas City Chiefs fans. An 8-5 record through 14 weeks is the worst that a Chiefs team has had in the Patrick Mahomes era. Typically the Chiefs have started to play their best football this time of year in seasons prior. This year, however, the team is going backward.
Since Patrick Mahomes' coming out party in 2018, every year has been seen as a "Super Bowl or bust" type of mentality and the expectation is making and winning a Super Bowl every year. If you fall short of that, then it's a failure. Now, most realistic fans can acknowledge that the Chiefs are not going to win the Super Bowl every year. Not winning the Super Bowl is one thing. The conversation becomes different if this Chiefs team ends up with an early-round exit and the offensive sputter is the reason why. At that point, this organization flat-out wasted a prime year of Patrick Mahomes.
Not only are the Chiefs wasting a prime year of Patrick Mahomes by surrounding him with a subpar supporting cast on offense, but they're squandering a massive opportunity to cruise to the Super Bowl in a year where the AFC is down.
The poor state of the AFC
Looking around the AFC, there aren't any other world-beaters to worry about if the Chiefs were to make a playoff run.
The Baltimore Ravens are really good, but they've lost top pass catcher Mark Andrews for the season already and look fairly beatable. The Cincinnati Bengals, once seen as the top competitor to the Chiefs for the AFC, lost star quarterback Joe Burrow for the year. Even despite beating the Chiefs this past weekend, the Buffalo Bills don't scare you and they're still treading water just hoping to make the playoffs.
There have been so many hits to the top teams in the conference this year that the AFC has never been more wide-open.
Even on the NFC side of things if the Chiefs were to make a Super Bowl, all of the top teams are flawed in one way or another. The Philadelphia Eagles have taken a step back this year, while the San Francisco 49ers are scary when things are clicking but they seemingly can lose to anybody.
That's what makes this season so hard to stomach if the Chiefs don't get it together.
This is as easy of an opportunity as ever to get to the Super Bowl and people are going to be upset that the reason the Chiefs don't make it is because the team refused to give Mahomes a reliable veteran receiver.
Mahomes as easy MVP
Even on a less significant side note, Patrick Mahomes could've sleepwalked to a consecutive MVP trophy this year with the lack of outstanding candidates if Brett Veach and company had fielded a coherent offense this season. Instead, we've seen Mahomes look more pedestrian than ever.
In the past, when Mahomes got the ball with two minutes left in the game to carry Kansas City to victory, fans felt as confident as ever. That feeling isn't quite the same this year. Every time Kansas City has been gifted an opportunity to steal the game this year, a wide receiver commits a backbreaking drop or someone on offense commits a bad penalty that is pretty much unrecoverable for this iteration of the Chiefs offense.
Wasting a defensive high
Here's the part Chiefs fans really should be worried about: The defense. The Chiefs defense has been fantastic this year and it's the side of the ball that is keeping them in games or giving them a chance to win. For years, we've wondered what the Chiefs would look like with a top-ten defense and we've always asked "Can we get Mahomes a defense?" Well, he finally has one. Unfortunately, it's been paired with by far the worst offense of the Mahomes era.
So, what's the concern here? Why should Chiefs fans be worried about the defense? There's a very strong likelihood the defense will take a step back next year. Chris Jones is in a contract year and this may very well be the last dance with him. The Chiefs also have several decisions to make on key players such as L'Jarius Sneed, who has consistently shut down opposing teams' No. 1 wide receiver this year; Willie Gay; and Drue Tranquill. When you add in the fact that the Chiefs are almost assuredly going to have to spend on some veteran wide receivers, it's going to be nearly impossible to keep the defense together when free agency comes.
That's why this year is starting to look like a wasted opportunity for Kansas City. This was the one year that the organization finally put together a dominant defense in a wide-open AFC conference, and it's probably not going to matter because the offense is incapable of breaking twenty points against a good team.
There's only a month of the regular season left for the Kansas City Chiefs to repair their issues. If they can do it, then great. If not, it's going to be talked about as one of the biggest missed opportunities in franchise history and it's going to fall squarely on the shoulders of the powers within the Chiefs organization.