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Chiefs Learned a Valuable Lesson in 2023

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With the final regular season game set for Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs locked up the third seed in the AFC Playoffs with their win Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s not been the season anyone expected, but there is a valuable lesson to be learned that could set the table for the future.

First, I do not believe in the Super Bowl hangover. It’s tough to win back-to-back Super Bowls, and it takes so many moving parts to achieve the near impossible; that alone is the primary reason it does not happen very often.

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The Kansas City Chiefs season was difficult for the coaches and the players and stressful for the fans. This team entered the year with question marks at wide receiver and offensive line. With week 18 upon us, that hasn’t changed.

Yet, that wasn’t why the Chiefs are the third seed heading into the playoffs. They are in that position because they didn’t handle the grind of the regular season like they’ve done in previous playoff seasons.

Even after their opening week loss to the Detroit Lions, the team knew there wasn’t a viable threat in the AFC West. In the end, a few teams were close initially, but the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Los Angeles Chargers are three of the worst-run franchises in the NFL. The Chiefs are one of the best.

That’s not necessarily a good thing for Kansas City. Knowing you are a virtual lock to win the division every season lulls you into a certain inevitability that takes out the bite you need to win challenging games against lesser opponents. Until this year, Kansas City was the master of the fourth-quarter comeback. In the regular season, they only accomplished that one time in 2023.

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This year, that’s not been the case. The team went 4-4 at Arrowhead and won the AFC West by two games when it should have been four or five. That happened because the Chiefs offense never found a flow this season. Instead, until adjustments were made this past weekend, Mahomes was trying too hard to make the big play, and the rotations of players were too complex.

Why it took so long for Head Coach Andy Reid and Offensive Coordinator, Matt Nagy will be a question for the offseason.  If the Bengals’ blueprint is an indicator for the playoffs, Kansas City will have a chance to make a deep run.

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If they lean on Isiah Pacheco and Rashee Rice, who carry this offense, they can win three games in January. Add that with a fantastic defense; suddenly, Kansas City should be feared.

However, there is no room for error in the playoffs and not an inch of complacency, either. The Chiefs honestly should feel lucky they made it into the postseason with their poor play on offense.  They need to learn from their regular season mistakes and recent win against the Bengals; this is the mistake-free offense we need to achieve drive after drive. If they master that formula, they’ll score enough points to win any playoff game at home or on the road.

Either way, let’s hope the harsh moments of 2023 set the tone for a stellar postseason for the Chiefs because everyone else is beatable in the AFC, even the mighty Baltimore Ravens.

Chiefs vs. Chargers Preview:

On Sunday, the Chiefs travel to Los Angeles, but there is no value in playing any of the starters this weekend. Yes, Travis Kelce (16), Rashee Rice (55), and Isiah Pacheco (65) need a few yards to surpass the 1,000-yard barriers, respectively, but I hope Reid rests those valuable postseason commodities, especially Kelce. Based on the opening comments this week. Though Kelce might be given a chance to hit that elite mark for the eighth consecutive season, Rice will not play Sunday.

Reid has already indicated Patrick Mahomes will sit, and Blaine Gabbert will be the starter. That’s good because, as the Chiefs know all too well, Mahomes has missed parts of games in the playoffs. Getting Gabbert some playtime is a bonus for Reid.

The Chargers have less to play for; a loss improves their draft position in April. The Chiefs should win this game because the best quarterback on the field will be Gabbert. He likes to sling the ball down the field so that we can see a lot of Kadarius Toney, Justyn Ross, and Mecole Hardman.

Final Score:

Chiefs 33 – Chargers 10

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