The Real Reason the Chiefs Are Favored to Repeat as Super Bowl Champs

For Kansas City, continuity is the biggest advantage over the competition

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty)
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty)
AFP via Getty Images

While there’s currently no way to know how severely the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the NFL’s 2020-2021 season, we already know that, at the very least, the offseason schedule will be significantly shorter than usual. In March, the league and NFLPA agreed to indefinitely delay the start of leaguewide offseason programs — which were supposed to begin this month — and close team facilities to players until further notice.

Rookie camps for the players drafted last week that typically begin in May will not be held as usual, and it seems highly likely that the mid-July preseason training camp will also be delayed, if not canceled outright.

For organizations with new head coaches, new quarterbacks or — still worse — both, the reduction of practice time is going to be a huge hindrance to developing chemistry between players, installing offensive and defensive schemes, and developing a team identity.

The Chiefs, who have had Andy Reid as their coach since 2013 and MVP-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes on their roster since 2017, do not have those concerns.

For the Chiefs, who were holding practices and team walk-throughs as recently as early February prior to taking on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV and winning the Lombardi trophy, the lack of time for their competition to get on the same page could prove to be a huge advantage entering the 2020 season.

Of the 22 players who started for the Chiefs against the 49ers in the Super Bowl in Miami, only two left in free agency: offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski (to the Pittsburgh Steelers) and linebacker Reggie Ragland (to the Detroit Lions). The remaining 20 are all under contract or have re-signed with the team.

That means the Chiefs will return more than 90 percent of the players who started for the team in the Super Bowl (as well as practiced together when most of the NFL was already sitting at home) when they open the season in 2020. While it’s possible that some may lose their jobs to a promising rookie, that likely won’t happen to many of the incumbent starters, since the Chiefs only selected six players in the draft, the fewest in the league by far.

Already a good bet to become the first repeat Super Bowl champs since the 2003-2004 New England Patriots because of the 24-year-old wunderkind under center, the Chiefs may be somewhat immune to the coronavirus restrictions that could derail the seasons of other, more recently assembled squads.

And we’re not the only ones who think so.

“Continuity is good in any year, especially this year with having limited or no [offseason practice] and additional practice time,” Kansas City general manager Brett Veach said prior to the draft. “The more guys you have around that are familiar with how we do things, the playbook, what’s expected of them, certainly that’s beneficial. This kind of played out, I think, working out for us.”

Most teams will need to worry about incorporating rookies and figuring out their starting units, but the reigning Super Bowl champs won’t be one of them.

Oddsmakers in Vegas clearly favor Kansas City’s decision to keep the band together: most sportsbooks have the Chiefs installed as the favorites to win the Super Bowl at 6/1.

Given that the Chiefs have time on their side while most of the league will be working against it, that seems like a pretty good bet.

Having Mahomes certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

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