"The Kansas City Chiefs don’t win well enough."
That’s what I’ve been hearing and reading from analysts throughout our hermetically sealed football bubble. I’ve even seen it from some Chiefs fans on Twitter.
The Chiefs are 14-1, but they aren’t obliterating their opponents and mailing the leftover viscera to their families, so are they really winning?
The Chiefs have the best record in football, but their wins are being counted against them more than the losses of all other playoff teams. Nearly every discussion about the Chiefs over the last three or four weeks has legitimately been “Why aren’t the Chiefs blowing everyone out, and should we be concerned?”
This is, in part, the Chiefs’ own doing. While the Chiefs have mostly goofed off, sleepwalked, and can’t-be-bothered their way to a 14-1 record, the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers have spent the last couple of weeks looking a lot more exciting.
Yet, the Chiefs have the second-best point differential in the NFL. They trail only the Baltimore Ravens, who they always beat. So, to be clear, the lackadaisical team that looks like it couldn’t care less and refuses to blow out teams is second in the league at scoring more points than their opponent.
I get it. The version of the NFL we know today was built on storylines and narratives. Like 50% of the stuff I’ve written about the Chiefs has been complaining about dumb made-up media/fan narratives or trying to find narratives of my own to spend a thousand words on. Without the rivalries or beefs or soap operas or redemption arcs, the NFL wouldn’t be one of the biggest sports and entertainment goliaths in the world.
The Chiefs' inevitability runs counter to the idea the NFL is the land of parity. It’s difficult to preach “any given Sunday” when Kansas City feels so inevitable. We all already know the ending, but we’re pretending like we didn’t peek at the last page before starting the prologue. We’ve known where this season has been headed since last season ended.
The Chiefs have no competition. Everyone knows it. The comparison to the '90s Chicago Bulls and 2010s Golden State Warriors are already tired. They could kneel the ball every play until the fourth quarter and still put up 31. They have no peers. It's the Chiefs, about a galaxy of empty space, and then everyone else.
That’s not just this year; it’s the next 15 years. People like to point to the Chiefs' collection of talent and say there’s no way the team can maintain its powerhouse status after Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are gone. I would remind those people that Kelce and Hill were third- and fifth-round picks. The Chiefs are about to be a Patriots-tier dynasty that also drafts well. It’s over, folks.
Turning to the 2020 playoffs, the Bills or Tennessee Titans on their absolute most flawless days will beat the Chiefs on their absolute worst day. That is legitimately the only reality in which the Chiefs do not get to a second-straight Super Bowl.
The rest of the AFC has no shot. The Steelers and Colts have lumbering, geriatric noodle-arm quarterbacks who load up like trebuchets before hucking the ball seven yards downfield in an excruciating, borderline-tortuous fashion. The Ravens have had three seasons to figure out how to attack Mahomes and just keep getting embarrassed. The Browns would need twice the graupel they got last time to even have a shot at keeping it close. The Dolphins are just kinda there.
As far as potential Super Bowl opponents, the Packers and Seahawks fall into the Bills and Titans “if we don’t make a single mistake and the Chiefs eat themselves, then we have a shot” camp. Everyone else is hopeless. All of their fatal flaws are infinitely exploitable by even a middling Chiefs performance.
It’s not fun for anyone but the Chiefs and their fans to exist in a world where no one else has a fair shot. But it is what it is, and after this postseason, reality will finally set in. The only thing stopping the Chiefs are injuries or themselves.
The 2020 season was over when it started, the games were just a formality.