Can Kansas City Chiefs Atone For 2018 Failure?

Football

The Kansas City Chiefs secured the AFC West division for the fourth season on the bounce after defeating the New England Patriots in their week 14 clash at Gillette Stadium. The Chiefs’ defense did just enough to hold Tom Brady and company in check on the goal-line to deny New England in a controversial fixture. Not only was the win a statement for Andy Reid’s men, but it has also put them in contention for one of the top two seeds in the AFC playoff race.

Kansas City started the season strongly and were the number one seed in the 2018 campaign so they were seemingly on their way to the Super Bowl. However, the Patriots loomed large and defeated them at Arrowhead Stadium before they lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the sixth time as they made excellent use of their well-drilled defense and expertise in situational plays.

The Chiefs will have marked the Patriots game as a significant moment in their 2019 season. They did get a semblance of revenge on their rivals for their loss in the AFC Championship Game and perhaps proved that they have a formula that can win the Super Bowl this time around.

Their defense has taken significant strides forward this term under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The offense has taken a step back from their destructive powers of last season, but is still good enough to put serious points on the board in a hurry. It could be enough in the AFC to send the Chiefs to Miami in February to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy this time around.

Defensive Improvement

The Chiefs parted company with Bob Sutton as their defensive coordinator following their defeat to the Patriots last season. Spagnuolo was brought in to replace him and has gradually got his unit trending in the right direction, albeit they’re still struggling to cope against the run.

The defense is allowing the third-most yards in the league on the ground, which is not a trait that is common among Super Bowl winners. Unlike in their loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game, Reid’s men were able to shut down Sony Michel at Gillette Stadium, forcing Brady to beat them through the air with their undermanned passing attack.

Proving that it can be done against the Patriots is one thing, but the prospect of stopping Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens will be a huge challenge, with John Harbaugh’s men currently being backed in the Betway betting odds as the odds-on favorite to win the AFC as of the 10th December. There is enough talent on the defensive line led by Chris Jones in the middle.

Their cornerbacks are talented enough to allow them to commit numbers to stopping the run in the post-season, but it will take a special effort for the unit to be stout throughout January, especially if they’re playing on the road at M&T Bank Stadium.

Can Mahomes Hold Up?

Patrick Mahomes was incredible in 2018, throwing 50 touchdowns as well as setting records on his way to being named MVP, and although his term ended in disappointment it seemed that the only way was up for the quarterback. However, this year the 24-year-old has suffered from a litany of injuries, and he sustained another one to his hand in the win over New England – adding to a dislocated kneecap and an ankle problem.

Mahomes has battled on and has still thrown 21 touchdowns to only three interceptions, but the Chiefs are not quite as explosive as they were last term. Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman have had their moments and are a threat to take the ball in for a score on almost every play. Travis Kelce has enjoyed another impressive year of production, although even he is showing signs of slowing down at the age of 30. They scored 23 points against New England, which was enough due to the exploits of their defense.

The Chiefs will need to regain their swagger to overcome the Ravens and Jackson’s electric offense. It’s almost a role reversal of last season when the Chiefs may have the opportunity to do to Baltimore what the Patriots did to them. There are ample weapons for Mahomes to work with even with his injuries, but he has to be ready to be perfect in January. If they play like they are at the moment it will be another post-season disappointment for the Chiefs and Reid.

Can The Chiefs Win The AFC?

Kansas City can certainly win the AFC and their experience last season will stand them in good stead. They will have taken plenty of encouragement from their win over New England and they could face them again in the Divisional Round at Gillette Stadium if the seedings remain as they are. They need to make small improvements, but the talent and resolve are there for a January surge.