Chiefs’ Historic Half-Decade Leads to Another Potential Payoff at Arrowhead

With leadership from Reid, Mahomes and Veach, the Chiefs have made NFL history over the last five seasons. Now, the Chiefs have to finish the job at Arrowhead.

The Kansas City Chiefs officially punched their ticket to a fifth consecutive AFC Championship Game after a 27-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars last weekend. However, the Chiefs needed the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the Buffalo Bills the following day to host the game in their home stadium for a fifth-consecutive year. Due to an NFL ruling that stated a Bills and Chiefs AFC Championship Game would be played at a neutral site, all eyes were on the game in Buffalo.

The Bengals came through with a big 27-10 win on the road, thus setting up an NFL-record fifth consecutive AFC Championship Game in Kansas City. There is one common theme over the past five years that has brought such sustained success to the Chiefs: quarterback Patrick Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid.

Mahomes took over as starting quarterback in 2018 and the Chiefs have not only played in every AFC Championship Game since then, they have hosted the game each season. It seems like a stat that has gone underappreciated, but Mahomes has never played a road game in the playoffs in his first five years as a starter in the NFL. Technically, when the Chiefs played in Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was a neutral-site game, even though the game was played in Tampa. However, it is absolutely insane that Mahomes has captained so much regular-season success that it has set up the team to play so many home games in the playoffs.

It’s easy to forget about Reid, despite his status as one of the most successful coaches in the history of the league. Last weekend, Reid became the first head coach in NFL history to win 10 playoff games with two franchises. He’s never on Coach of the Year lists because he’s been so consistent in his career. He often gets overlooked because he has a superstar quarterback that has transcended the game. Make no mistake, Reid is the conductor that keeps the train moving forward and he will need to showcase his talents as a game-planner once again to get the Chiefs back to the Super Bowl.

Before the 2022 season began, many national pundits predicted a dropoff for the Chiefs. Some were more extreme than others, but the Chiefs weren’t a consensus pick to win the AFC West for the first time in years. The Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Las Angeles Chargers all made key additions to their teams in the offseason, while the Chiefs traded away an All-Pro wide receiver.

While everyone else was playing checkers, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach was playing chess. One thing that no one could predict was how good this 2022 rookie class would become. This is back-to-back years when Veach has hit a home run through the draft. In the last two draft classes, the Chiefs have added starters and regular contributors on both sides of the ball. Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, and Nick Bolton have all become starters from the 2021 class and Noah Gray has given the Chiefs another tight end weapon behind Travis Kelce.

In the 2022 class, Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis, Jaylen Watson and Isiah Pacheco have all jumped into starting roles with the team. Bryan Cook, Joshua Williams, and Leo Chenal have been awarded a number of quality snaps throughout the season. Wide receiver Skyy Moore’s snaps have been limited but he has seen more action when players ahead of him on the depth chart have gone down due to injury.

The key contributions from the young core of players not only helped the soft rebuild, but it seems to have opened a new Super Bowl window wide open for this team. Mahomes’s salary cap hit will continue to grow in the coming seasons, and having reliable young starters on both sides of the ball will continue to be an advantage for the Chiefs.

This Sunday, in a rematch between the Bengals, revenge will be on the mind of the home team. Yes, the Bengals have beaten the Chiefs three straight times, including last year in the AFC Championship Game. However, this year’s team is built differently than last year’s team. The defense is younger, quicker, and more physical. The offense has shown itself to be a well-rounded unit from top-to-bottom. The midseason addition of wide receiver Kadarius Toney can not be overstated in a game like this and there’s a chance wide receiver Mecole Hardman will be available to play after an extended absence. Both players were not available in the regular season meeting with the Bengals. There’s no doubt Reid will be scheming to get the ball in the hands of these two playmakers.

A win would send the Chiefs to a third Super Bowl in five years. That would firmly place the Chiefs in dynasty territory. We are in the midst of an unprecedented run, not just with the Chiefs, but in NFL history. Five straight AFC Championship Games in Kansas City. Don’t take this coach, this quarterback, or this team as a whole for granted. Chiefs Kingdom, enjoy it, we are living in the glory days.