For most of the last two decades, the Patriots have been the most feared NFL team. But as QB Tom Brady ages, this is no longer the case. Other AFC teams are catching up to the Patriots, with good young quarterbacks like the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, and Texans’ Deshaun Watson.
With the Patriots possibly fading out, the one AFC team that no one wants to play this month is the Chiefs. Here’s why.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the team to beat
The Chiefs finished the regular season 12-4, two games worse than the Ravens. But Kansas City is still the team to beat in the AFC. They have the best passing game with Mahomes throwing to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Plus, Andy Reid is likely the second-best coach among the six AFC playoff teams, behind only the Patriots’ Bill Belichick.
A lot of people are picking the Ravens to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but they don’t have any true stars on offense except Jackson. If an opponent can keep the likely NFL MVP in check — a tough task — the Ravens will be hard-pressed to put points on the board.
Patrick Mahomes is ready for the spotlight
After he threw 50 touchdown passes in 2018, Mahomes was expected to regress this year, and he did with 26 scores. Part of the reason for his fewer touchdowns involves injuries. The 24-year-old played through pain as best he could, but he also missed two games due to a knee injury.
When healthy, Mahomes is still among the NFL’s best passers, as evidenced by the 10 touchdowns he threw in the Chiefs’ first three games of the season. The QB is also good at not turning the ball over. He threw just five interceptions in the regular season and didn’t have more than one in any game.
Mahomes didn’t have a great showing in his two playoff games last season; he threw a total of three touchdown passes, So, Mahomes likely wants to put up good numbers this month to prove he can play well when it counts.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid, the X-factor?
Not many people will argue about Reid being one of the best coaches of the last 20 years. Seeing success with both the Eagles and the Chiefs, his teams have won nearly 62% of his regular-season games. The Chiefs have also won at least 10 games in the seven seasons of his leadership.
The 61-year-old is good at game-planning, especially coming off of a bye week, as the Chiefs will for their divisional-round game. The one knock against Reid in his coaching career is his lack of postseason success.
His teams are 12-14 in the playoffs, and he has had just one Super Bowl appearance — with the Eagles 15 years ago. A Super Bowl title is all that’s missing from Reid’s career accomplishments, and he just needs the right team around him.
The Chiefs’ beloved coach may have the right team this year — if Mahomes and Hill can live up to their potential. With the Patriots not what they once were and playoff teams like the Bills and Titans not exactly juggernauts, Reid may be able to lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.