Concern is growing inside the Chiefs Kingdom. QB prodigy Patrick Mahomes has the keys to the kingdom, but the central question consuming Chiefs fans is: can he be counted on to drive the Chiefs to post-season success?
As the season inches closer, many questions surround this post-Alex Smith Chiefs team. Let’s start with some obvious facts that speak to potential headwinds for Kansas City. For starters, the Chiefs have a very tough schedule including early games against the Chargers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 49ers. In addition, Mahomes performance in the first two preseason games have some fans questioning if he will live up to his full potential. There have been flashes such as the 70-yard bomb to Hill in the Atlanta game. It has been, however, mostly a ho-hum start for the Texas Tech alum and 2017 first round pick. Is Mahomes a bust or still on path to be the one of the best? As for late August, the answer to the question has less clarity. Finally, there is a defense that was one of the worst in the league last year in most major categories and appears to have made little progress in the offseason. It a tough trifecta.
However, as I dissect the early preseason performance, I still see a playoff team in the making. Three core arguments make the case. First, the Chiefs have significant talent beyond just Patrick Mahomes including Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and the offseason addition of wideout Sammy Watkins. If Mahomes has solid success this year, it will be in no small part because of the supporting cast on the offense side of the ball. Second, the hometown crowd is a huge upside for this young, talented team. Arrowhead is the loudest stadium in the NFL. It gives the Chiefs a big advantage particularly as opponents attempt to execute third-down plays amid a noisy “sea of (hostile) red.” Finally, in order to be successful this season, the Chiefs will need to continue their winning ways within the division. A talented offense, and a huge home field advantage, offers Andy Reid a combination that can deliver ongoing success within the AFC West.
Consequently, as I review the evidence, the conclusion to be reached is: the Chiefs will make the postseason, but lose in the first or second round. This 2018 Chiefs team has solid offensive talent, an unmatched home field advantage, and a history of winning games in their division. It is a recipe for making the postseason. It is not, however, the stuff of which likely Super Bowl contenders are made. Elite QBs and solid defense drive Super Bowl level success. The Chiefs may be building toward both of those things, but may not have enough defensive strength to prevail in their 2018 campaign.