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NFL Draft

What Must Happen For Chiefs To Win Super Bowl Again

  • The Draft Network
  • July 20, 2020
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Welcome to the 2020 installment of the “How Your Favorite Team Won The Super Bowl” Series.

In this adventure, we’ll take a good, hard look at select NFL teams, show you their Super Bowl odds heading into the season, give you a little overview on what they’ve got to work with and what might be going on in their facility, then proclaim three key factors that must go in their favor in order for them to be crowned atop football’s Aggro Crag when all the confetti has settled.

For some, the list of variables that need to go right might not only be plausible, but expected. For others, their three factors might require a bit more creativity.

Today, we find out what must happen for the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

State of the Franchise

Look, I watched the Mahomes Texas Tech tape. I marveled at the absurdity—on both sides. The cross-body throws, the attempts into triple coverage, the throws that looked like a football flying through the front-seat windows of a moving vehicle at 90 MPH 50 yards down the field; it was all there. Sometimes it ended in an ESPN top-10 play; other times it ended in disaster.

Talent can make up for a lot of things. It can make up for a less-than-ideal supporting cast. It can make up for a coach implementing the wrong scheme. It can even make up for a bad decision from the talent itself on a certain play. I know that all can be the case. But I really do wonder what we would think of Mahomes right now had he been drafted by any team other than the Chiefs and a head coach not named Andy Reid.

I wonder, but Chiefs fans don’t have to—and they certainly don’t want to, either.

The reality is that Mahomes is a Chief, not only now, but for the foreseeable future, as he just signed a 10-year deal. Around him, a literal Super Bowl-winning squad. Mahomes is surrounded by one of the best supporting casts in the league; at wide receiver, tight end, running back and offensive line. The defense could use some work, sure. But how much can we really criticize a team that overcame a 24-0 deficit in the divisional round to beat the Houston Texans?

What I’m trying to say here is this: when it comes to the state of the Chiefs’ franchise, as long as Reid is the coach and Mahomes is the quarterback, they will always be a threat. Sometimes that will just be on a weekly basis. Sometimes it will be for a division title. Other times—like the time we’re in right now—it will be to take home the Lombardi Trophy.

Preseason Super Bowl Odds

6/1 (best in the NFL)

WHAT MUST HAPPEN FOR CHIEFS TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL

1. Mahomes Can’t Just Be Good; He Must Be Historic

Ten years, $503 million. That’s the kind of money the Chiefs just willingly signed up to pay Mahomes over the next decade, and I don’t think anyone out there is blaming them for it.

The fact of the matter is Mahomes likely won’t hit true free agency until he’s 40, and even then, I wouldn’t be against the man. For now, he’s 24, turning 25 later this year. He already has a Super Bowl, a Super Bowl MVP, and a league MVP in his trophy case. In his first year as a starter (his MVP season in 2018), he started all 16 games, threw for more than 5,000 yards with 50 passing touchdowns to just 12 interceptions—that certainly answered the questions of whether or not his style could survive in the NFL. 

Everyone has read the stats of Mahomes, so I don’t need to go off listing every single one of his accomplishments—we’d be here all day. But as shocking as it is to say, what Mahomes has done in his early career no longer matters. He’s no longer simply chasing records, those will come. He’s now chasing history.

There are only 12 quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowls. Only seven have ever won back-to-back. In the early days of the NFL, it happened quite often. Three happened before 1980, and six happened before the year 2000. But the last one to do so was Tom Brady over 15 years ago in 2004, the longest gap between two back-to-back Super Bowl quarterbacks.

As the NFL has grown, so has the competitiveness. Yes, I realize that if you’re a fan of a team that has been bad for a long time that competitiveness isn’t always a guarantee. But for the ones who go the distance and take home the trophy, back-to-backs don’t really happen anymore (I know Brady won three of five, calm down).

For the Chiefs to win another title in consecutive seasons, they’ll need Mahomes to not just be good, but historic. Of the seven quarterbacks to ever win back-to-back, six of them are already Hall of Famers, and Brady as the seventh is a guaranteed lock for Canton.

So the question is, can the half-billion dollar man be historic?

2. The Company: Hill & Edwards-Helaire

We’re not just talking about winning a few games here. I think the Chiefs’ roster is plenty good on its own to naturally win double-digit games. But for the Chiefs to really contend for another Super Bowl, they’ll need two X-factor players to rise to the occasion early and throughout the season: wide receiver Tyreek Hill and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

The last time Hill played in all 16 games in a regular season, he was fourth in the NFL in receiving yards (1,479), fourth in receiving touchdowns (12), second in yards-per-catch (17.0, min 100 targets), and second in yards-per-target (10.8, min 100 targets). His speed is uncoverable for most teams in the NFL. He is a constant threat to hit a home run, he’s an elite deep-ball receiver, and if you give him a screen at your own 20-yard line, it will take him all of eight seconds to put six points on the board. Mahomes needs him more than any other player on the team (yes, I know Travis Kelce is there).

The other X-factor is Edwards-Helaire.

(Side note: I am not saying that tight end Travis Kelce isn’t an X-factor. I already know what I am getting in Kelce. It is incredibly important, but not as “up in the air” as these two are.)

Can a rookie really make that big of a difference for a Super Bowl team? Can a running back really make that big of a difference for a Super Bowl team? The answer to both, in this case, is yes.

The Chiefs have had fine production from their running backs, and getting more out of that area clearly was not too necessary for last year’s team to win it all. But it does play a role, and the one Edward-Helaire can play will mean even more.

Edward-Helaire was great on the ground for LSU’s National Championship-winning offense with 1,414 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. But where he was a true focal point for the Tigers’ offense was in the passing game. Edwards-Helaire caught 55 passes for 453 receiving yards on the season. His reliable hands and smooth routes make him an instant plug-and-play guy for the Chiefs offense, and one that can make a difference down the stretch.

3. Defense Must Be Top 10 in Takeaways

I don’t care about the yards given up; I really don’t. If you want me to get even edgier with it, I am not even overly worried about how many points per game they are giving up (I trust the Chiefs offense can score more no matter what). What I care about for the Chiefs’ defense is that they are top 10 in takeaways.

The reason this matters more than the yards or the points, to me, is the possessions. For each takeaway they get, they’re not only stopping their opponent’s possession, but giving an extra one to the offense. That may seem like a “duh,” but when you’re talking about giving the ball back to the Chiefs’ offense for an extra try at some points, that’s even more deadly than a regular turnover.

Last season, the Chiefs were fifth in the NFL with 16 interceptions. That number needs to remain in 2020. If they can do that, the rest will fall into place—fewer points against, fewer first downs given up, fewer yards yielded. 

Turnovers are what matter most. The offense can overcome the rest.

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