Will Kansas City’s challenging regular season schedule affect its chances to repeat as Super Bowl champions?
In Patrick Mahomes’ first season as a starter, it was an AFC Championship Game berth for the Kansas City Chiefs.
In his second year, it was a Super Bowl title.
And in year three with Mahomes under center, the Chiefs will look to become the first NFL team to repeat as champion since the New England Patriots in 2004.
In recent years, Kansas City has dominated the AFC West, winning the division for the past four seasons. The Chiefs have gone 22-2 in the division, including with Alex Smith as the starter in 2016 and 2017. They have made the playoffs every year since 2015.
And with the release of the 2020 NFL schedule on Thursday, Vegas believes the good times will continue to roll for the Chiefs, as they are favored in 14 of their 16 games for the upcoming season.
What the Vegas odds say about the Chiefs’ chances in every game for the 2020 season https://t.co/gv0CNoO5pF
— The Kansas City Star (@KCStar) May 8, 2020
However, even though the reigning champs are favored in nearly 90 percent of their games, it doesn’t mean their schedule is a cakewalk.
In fact, the Chiefs’ early season schedule is arguably the toughest in the NFL. They host Houston in Week 1, before traveling to take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 and Baltimore in Week 3.
So, what do you think?? pic.twitter.com/bvdC3c0eIi
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) May 8, 2020
NFL Network’s Jeff Chahida discussed the Chiefs’ path to repeating, pointing to the first half of their schedule as the main reason why it will be challenging, as well as two daunting late season matchups – at Tampa Bay in Week 12 and at New Orleans in Week 15.
“The Chiefs’ first seven games include four against teams that qualified for the playoffs in 2019. They will play just three contests at Arrowhead Stadium before the calendar turns to November. And if you think the back end must be easier, consider this: of the four NFC South opponents Kansas City will face this year, the two toughest will come on the road as well.”
The Kansas City Chiefs' bid for back-to-back Super Bowl titles got a whole lot harder after the release of their 2020 schedule, @jeffrichadiha writes. Can Patrick Mahomes & Co. survive the early-season 'gauntlet' that awaits them?https://t.co/Z21kfqM9hn pic.twitter.com/64PZzeW2xk
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) May 8, 2020
Former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum also pointed to Kansas City’s Week 2 and Week 3 matchups in Los Angeles and Baltimore, respectively, as major hurdles for the defending champs in getting off to a hot start.
“Let’s look at those defenses, starting with the Chargers. When you think about Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, they are getting Derwin James back and they signed Chris Harris and drafted Kenneth Murray. That’s going to be a really good defense. Then they have to go all the way east to the third-ranked defense in Baltimore.”
— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) May 8, 2020
Dating back to last season, the Chiefs have won their last nine games, including the playoffs. Their last matchup with Houston took place in the AFC Wild Card Game on Jan. 12. The Texans led 24-0 in the second quarter before the Chiefs roared back to win, 51-31.
In their last last regular season game of 2019, Kansas City defeated the Chargers, 31-21. And in Week 3 of last season, Kansas City defeated Baltimore, 31-24.
However, all three of those games were at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Even in the face of a tough schedule, ESPN’s Louis Riddick believes that having Mahomes on the field will solve all concerns in Kansas City.
“With Kansas City, as long as they have No. 15 [Mahomes], he’s the great equalizer. I don’t care what this schedule says, play them all. You know he is going to light it up.”
Last season, Chiefs coach Andy Reid finally got his team over the hump. Now, it appears the second hump is a lot more robust than the first.
We’ll see if Mahomes Magic will be enough to get Kansas City over it once again.