Out of the despair of Super Bowl LV’s 31-9 defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers grew hope and the promise of 2021 as the markets installed the Kansas City Chiefs as the team to beat once again. BetUS sportsbook installed the Chiefs as the top favorites at +250 to win the AFC Championship game and at +550 to win Super Bowl LVI.
Now, with the Chiefs on the cusp of yet another AFC Championship game – the fourth straight in the golden Patrick Mahomes era – we take a trip down memory lane and examine how the Chiefs arrived at the pinnacle of the AFC.
Kansas City Chiefs in the Rearview Mirror
SBLV Defeat, Offseason Fortifications
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach had a hand in harvesting the optimistic NFL betting outlook. He reworked and reconfigured the team significantly in the offseason, paying particular attention to the offensive line that broke down in front of Mahomes in that defining defeat.
Kansas City’s loss to Tampa Bay was not only the worst in the young gun’s career but it was notable for the absence of touchdowns by the Chiefs. Some quarterbacks need a GPS to find the endzone, but not Mahomes. He can find it with his eyes closed on a good day.
During a charity golf event, Mahomes floated the idea of going 20-0. His ambition was to be the first quarterback to pull off a feat that has never been done. That lofty dream might have fueled Kansas City’s NFL odds further.
.@PatrickMahomes wants to make history next season going 20-0 🔥
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 30, 2021
Chiefs Struggle Out of the Gates
Veach would have easily been forgiven for a premature pat on the back when Kansas City’s preseason went without a hitch, His moves looked promising as the Chiefs reeled off three straight wins to cap off their summer preparations on a perfect 3-0 record. However, things didn’t quite go to plan.
The Chiefs opened their season with a 33-29 win over the Cleveland Browns. To be fair, the Chiefs didn’t look good in that game at all. They were down by 12 points at one point before Mahomes rallied his side to victory and got some help from Cleveland’s late-game blunders.
From that point, the Chiefs ricocheted from one defeat to another, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 36-35 and the Los Angeles Chargers 30-24 at home. Mahomes, who was fondly known as Mr. September, had his worst September. The Chiefs were 1-2 and sitting at the bottom of the AFC West pile. As well, they were 0-3 against the spread (ATS).
These woes continued for the first seven weeks. The Chiefs were 3-4 ahead of Week 8, sitting in the division basement, and looking anything but like the juggernaut of season’s past.
Things were so bad that some embittered fans started a petition to bench former MVP Mahomes!
Bench Patrick Mahomes? Chiefs fans react to petition https://t.co/3db6q1xu3O
— WHLT 22 Hattiesburg (@WHLT22) November 8, 2021
The Chiefs’ uncharacteristic start did leave many in the punditocracy scratching their heads. It prompted the Chiefs to fall out of favor in Super Bowl LVI betting markets, opening the door to the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers leapfrogging ahead of the Chiefs in betting online markets.
But, thankfully, head coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs didn’t panic. And, that belief and perseverance paid dividends.
Somehow, things turned. The Chiefs beat the New York Giants 20-17, a victory that in hindsight proved to be the catalyst for an eight-game winning streak, longest in the NFL this season. The Chiefs went 8-0 and 6-2 ATS during this run, while the total went 4-4.
Had it not been for the 34-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17, the Chiefs may well have finished the season on a perfect 10-0 record. As it is, they went 9-1 in their last 10 games, and finished the season with a 12-5-0 record overall and 8-9-0 ATS.
Losing to the Bengals cost the Chiefs the top seed in the AFC. Knowing now how far the Chiefs have gone in the playoffs…..well, no harm was done. The Chiefs arrived at the doorstep of the AFC Championship game for a fourth consecutive season, and they did it in absolutely stunning fashion.
Arguably, one of the best games of the season took place at Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday. The Bills and Chiefs went toe-to-toe in a back-and-forth thriller as Josh Allen gave his counterpart Mahomes a run for his money. Towards the end of the game, one was afraid to blink to miss a touchdown pass by one of these stellar young quarterbacks. In the end, the Chiefs won 42-36 in overtime.
— TSN EDGE (@TSN_Edge) January 24, 2022
The Chiefs are 2-1 in the conference final with their defeat coming in 2018. Then, the Chiefs lost to the Brady-inspired New England Patriots 37-31 in overtime.
The Chiefs beat the Tennessee Titans 35-24 in 2019 on the way to a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54. In 2020, the Chiefs beat the Bills 38-24 to clinch their second-straight AFC crown.
In 2021, the Chiefs will face the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game, and there’s every reason to believe they will overcome the plucky underdogs from Cincy with a spot in Super Bowl 56 on the line.