The Kansas City Chiefs have, undoubtedly, become a gold-standard franchise in today’s NFL landscape. Kansas City has won six straight division titles, made the playoffs nine out of the last ten years, won a Super Bowl in 2020 and appeared in a second-straight in 2021.
After hosting a fourth-straight AFC Championship game in 2022 and with Patrick Mahomes merely beginning to enter the prime of his career, it becomes difficult to poke holes. While Vegas odds have the Chiefs as one of the early Super Bowl LVII favorites, the difficulty level for achieving this has skyrocketed in one offseason alone. Keeping in mind that we successfully predicted 12-5 for the Chiefs last year, let’s take a look ahead to 2022.
Causes for Concern
- Schedule. The Chiefs will take on eight playoff teams from a year ago and start the season playing eight straight games against teams with winning records. You now also have to navigate what should be one of the more hotly-contested divisions in recent football history. There is also the fact that Andy Reid has only won more than 12 games twice in his career and the Chiefs have hovered right around the 11/12 win mark throughout Reid’s time in KC.
- Offensive questions. Gone is electrifying playmaker Tyreek Hill, incumbent wide receivers Demarcus Robinson & Byron Pringle. The Chiefs are left with Mecole Hardman as the only receiver that was on the team a season ago but the signings of Marquez Valdez-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster should lessen the blow. The stable of running backs is also a big question mark considering Clyde Edwards-Helaire has yet to establish himself as a viable lead back. The team signed free agent Ronald Jones this offseason which could provide a much-needed shot in the arm.
- The AFC is a complete gauntlet The 2022 offseason will go down as one of the craziest in NFL history. In the AFC West alone, you had the Broncos finally landing a franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson, the Raiders trading for one of the league’s best receivers and the Chargers bolstering its defense with Khalil Mack. Two years ago the Chiefs were, far and away, the best team in the AFC and now the waters are extremely murky.
Reasons for hope
- Championship pedigree. You can nitpick the roster all you want but the fact remains the Chiefs are at the top of the AFC mountaintop until someone knocks them off. There is a mental and physical edge that exists when you see a franchise become the symbol of excellence that it has. We saw Kansas City stumble in the second half of the AFC Championship game last season but no other franchise has come close to what the Chiefs have done since Patrick Mahomes arrived on the scene.
- The Brett Veach effect. After a disastrous performance by the offensive line in Super Bowl LV, Veach completely overhauled that unit. Now, the team is looking to the future by trading Tyreek Hill for all-important draft capital which (on paper) appears to have paid off. Veach is rebuilding the secondary by throwing talent and numbers at the position all while deciding to let Tyrann Mathieu walk into free agency. It’s clear the Chiefs brass sees this situation as a marathon and not a sprint.
- What matters most: The QB and the coach. Not a lot needs to be said here, you have Patrick Mahomes, former league and Super Bowl MVP just NOW entering the prime of his career and Andy Reid at the helm, arguably the NFL’s best head coach. While other teams are trying to draft and make moves to combat the Chiefs dominance, the combo of Reid and Mahomes will make it extremely difficult to overtake the Chiefs in this conference.
2022 Chiefs schedule predictions (11-6) 1st place AFC West
AFC playoff teams