Can Anyone Stop the Chiefs From Becoming the NFL’s Next Dynasty?
Kansas City appears to have the pieces in place for sustained success well beyond this season
Over the next six weeks, we’ll be preparing for the kickoff of the 2020 NFL season on September 10 by attempting to answer the most important question facing all 32 of the league’s franchises in order of their 2019 finish, from worst to first. Today’s team: the Chiefs.
No. 1: Kansas City Chiefs
2019 Record: 12-4
Points For: 451 – Points Against: 308
Projected 2020 Over/Under Win Total: 11.5
Were it not for a questionable neutral zone infraction on then-Kansas City linebacker Dee Ford that erased a Tom Brady interception in the AFC Championship game with 1:01 remaining on the clock two seasons ago, the Chiefs would have gone to Super Bowl LIII to take on the Los Angeles Rams in place of the New England Patriots. And in all likelihood, the reigning Super Bowl champs would’ve left Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with a victory, the same way the Patriots did.
The Chiefs certainly seem to feel that way, as players on the team have been very vocal about the prospect of adding more championship hardware to their collective trophy cases in the coming years.
Appearing on KCSP 610 Sports Radio in July, defensive tackle Chris Jones vowed Kansas City’s Super Bowl win over the 49ers would not be the franchise’s only championship victory in the coming years.
“This is only the beginning,” Jones said. “We plan to have another parade and another parade and another parade. We’re going to make sure we bring not one, not two, not three, not four, but five-plus rings to Kansas City. It’s been 50 years of waiting, but the wait is over now. It’s time to create a dynasty.”
Asked about his teammate’s comment, dynamic wide receiver Tyreek Hill made a more extreme prediction.
“Well, I’m not gonna say he’s telling a fib,” Hill told ESPN. “But Chris Jones, he’s definitely — he’s definitely a man of his word, and we’re definitely creating something special here in KC, so I don’t see why not. Why say five? Why not go seven rings? Right now, we’re just chasing [Michael] Jordan, so that’s what we do. So I’m going over five, and I’m saying seven.”
A bold declaration for sure. But is it really an unrealistic one?
On the surface, of course. Seven championships would give the Chiefs one more than the teams who are tied for the most in NFL, with six, the Patriots and Steelers. The salary-cap measures in place in the modern NFL are meant to engender parity and, Patriots notwithstanding, it is incredibly difficult to guarantee success over a period of five years, much less a decade.
But another question — of whether the Chiefs can become a dynasty, like Belichick’s Patriots or Chuck Noll’s Steelers — isn’t really so unrealistic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chiefs were expected to return 20 of 22 starters from their Super Bowl, including cornerstone pieces like Mahomes, Jones, Hill, defensive end Frank Clark, tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and safety Tyrann Mathieu. That number is down to 17 following the opt-outs of running back Damien Williams (who will be replaced by first-round RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire) and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as well as the suspension of cornerback Baushaud Breeland, but Kansas City’s continuity should still be a huge advantage for them this season.
It should also be an advantage for the Chiefs moving forward, as the team worked out a 10-year extension with Mahomes this offseason that will keep the one-time league and Super Bowl MVP in Kansas City through at least the 2031 season. That means Kansas City knows the 24-year-old quarterback will be with the team for the next decade — and the rest of the NFL knows it too. Much in the same way that players used to come to New England and take less for a chance to play with Brady and win a Super Bowl ring, veterans may now take their talents to Kansas City to play with Mahomes at a discount in exchange for having a legit shot at a championship.
Adding veteran talent at a cheaper rate on a short-term basis (Darrelle Revis, Martellus Bennett, Chris Long, Corey Dillon) has been a constant in New England over the past 20 seasons, a two-decade period that has seen the Patriots qualify for the playoffs 17 times, play for the AFC Championship 13 times and make nine trips to the Super Bowl, winning six.
Drafting well has also been an important part of New England’s success — an area where Kansas City excels. Since 2003, the Chiefs have only had two drafts where at least one player they selected didn’t go on to make a Pro Bowl (2018 and 2009) and the team has selected 25 Pro Bowlers overall since 2000.
The sample size is exceedingly small, but the Chiefs appear to have talent in all the right places — both on the field and off — to build for a Patriots-like period of dominance. They’ve already played for the AFC Championship during both of Mahomes’s seasons as a starting quarterback and, as noted above, probably would have made (and won) the Super Bowl in both as well were it not for a brutal flag.
Should the Chiefs return to the AFC Championship game on the penultimate weekend of the upcoming season, they’ll be the first team to make it there three years in a row since the Patriots (who went to eight straight prior to last year). If they win it and make it to the Super Bowl, the Chiefs will be knocking on the door of their second title in three years and third championship overall … nearly halfway to seven. They’ll also be well on their way to being what the Patriots were, if not there already: a dynasty.
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