The Kansas City Chiefs almost won their second straight Super Bowl, but they were exposed by the Bucs. How will they perform in the 2021 regular season?
In 2020, it felt as if the Kansas City Chiefs were playing a video game. No matter how things looked, they just had to flip a switch and take over against any team. They did this to dominate teams like Buffalo and Baltimore, but they also did it to squeak out wins later in the season. They seemed to be on a different plan than the rest of the NFL.
However, all of that came crashing down in the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. KC had one injury too many on the offensive line, and they could not keep up with Tom Brady. With a history of a Super Bowl hangover, there are questions surrounding how the Chiefs will rebound.
Still, they have the best quarterback in the NFL and will be healthier on the offensive line. They retain almost every weapon from 2020, and they retain most of their coaching staff once again.
How Healthy Can This Offense Get?
This will play a pivotal role in Kansas City’s 2021 success. Reporting suggests that both offensive tackles will be healthy by the start of the regular season, but that seems hard to believe after losing one to an Achilles tear in the postseason.
Either way, expect the Chiefs to draft an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft to ensure that they are ready up front. They could add Landon Dickerson at center or Alex Leatherwood at left tackle. Leatherwood has tackle and guard experience with Alabama, so he would be a chess piece for the offensive line.
If we can assume that Kansas City will be incrementally better than they were last year on the offensive line, they should be set. That’s all they truly need with a player like Patrick Mahomes in the regular season. It might come back to bite them in the postseason once again, but Mahomes will torch 99% of defenses with a pedestrian offensive line.
Will There Be a Super Bowl Slump?
We’ve seen teams struggle after losing the Super Bowl recently. The 49ers and Rams failed to scratch the surface of their potential immediately after losing in the Super Bowl. For the past decade, almost every team outside of New England has fallen off after losing. However, that likely won’t happen with Kansas City.
The Chiefs haven’t loaded up for a short window like other teams. They are invested for the next few seasons, and they still have young players who will improve. Clearly, Patrick Mahomes will keep them in any game. The real difference with the Chiefs is that they have the best tight end and the fastest receiver in the NFL.
Kansas City will come back with a vengeance as opposed to experiencing the typical Super Bowl hangover.
Who Will They Play in 2021?
To make a prediction surrounding win totals, you first have to see who a team is playing. Obviously, the Chiefs will have a home and away game against each team in the AFC West. While they are clearly the top dog in that division, teams like the Chargers and Raiders are on the rise as they build through the draft.
The Chiefs also play every team in the NFC East, the worst division in the NFL. That should be four easy wins. They also play the AFC North, with teams like the Ravens, Steelers and Browns. Every AFC North team is retaining its quarterback and head coach from last year, so there is at least stability in that division. They also have to play Buffalo and Tennessee, two divisional winners last season. That will be tough, but they fared well against quality teams last year.
For now, we’re assuming that each team will only play 16 games. However, there have been discussions regarding adding a 17th to the schedule.
How Many Games Will the Chiefs Win?
The teams that scare me on Kansas City’s schedule are the Bills, Titans, Ravens, and Chargers. The only other teams with a shot to win against them will be the Browns, Steelers and Raiders.
With that in mind, I’m projecting for the Chiefs to go 13-3 next season. I believe it is more likely to go over than under at 13 wins, but many teams on their schedule are on the rise. Depending on what order they play their games, they could struggle against surprising teams.