Uh… win the Super Bowl.
I mean, that sounds absolutely absurd, but it’s true, right? If the Kansas City Chiefs do anything less than win the Super Bowl, it feels like an unsuccessful season.
Let’s take the first three years of Mahomes’ career: In 2018, he lost in the AFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots (and Tom Brady); in 2019, he won the Super Bowl over the San Francisco 49ers; and in 2020, he made it to the Super Bowl and lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and Brady). So you can’t really say a successful season for the Chiefs is an AFC Championship Game berth. In the wake of Mahomes’ unbelievable quality of play, that has become an expectation. That’s an average grade. That isn’t successful; it’s just par for the course.
Does a Super Bowl berth feel like a success? It’s hard to argue that it isn’t when you consider how singularly difficult it is to make the NFL’s ultimate game as opposed to other major league sports like basketball and soccer, where playoff ascension is decided across multi-game series and not one-off games to remove some of the randomness from the equation. But if the Chiefs make and don’t win the Super Bowl, we will certainly start hearing questions about Andy Reid and his suspect playoff success, especially when the calendar turns from January to February. Whether warranted or not (read: it will not be warranted), back-to-back Super Bowl losses will get talked about.
No team has more expectations to win a Super Bowl than the Chiefs—not even the returning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and all of their incumbent talent. The Chiefs are +500 to win the 2022 Super Bowl on BetOnline, while the Buccaneers are second at +600, and the Buffalo Bills are a distant third at +1200. Their record of sustained deep playoff success under Mahomes makes Kansas City the best bet to win it this year, and it’s tough to argue with that.
There are, of course, ways that the Chiefs don’t win the Super Bowl but can still be proud of their season. Luck always gets involved in the process, and worthy teams can be screwed over by a few bad bounces of the ball—ask the 2018 New Orleans Saints about that. Much like this past season, injuries can play a large part as well. If the Chiefs enter the Super Bowl unhealthy, as they did this past season, then they can take faith in the regular season win over the Buccaneers and the likelihood that a functional offensive line would have, at least, forced a different game script and given them a better chance.
But barring an unfair draw or major injury, yes, the expectation is that the Chiefs win the Super Bowl for the 2021 season—anything less than, while perhaps a loss to a worthy opponent, will feel like a disappointment. Mahomes will get a year richer, Reid will get a year older, and the clock will keep ticking on what should be the dynastic dominator of the post-Brady NFL. It won’t be easy, but the Chiefs have made the necessary additions (Joe Thuney, Orlando Brown) to shore up last year’s failure and return to their rightful place atop the NFL.
- Dec 08, 2022
- Dec 08, 2022