By: Todd Leabo
The path to the playoffs in the National Football League is simple. The easiest way to do it is to win your division. A team can sneak in with just seven wins in some years to turn that trick, or they can be an undefeated juggernaut to take the title. A common thread for either team, whether they sneak in or dominate, it to beat your division opponents.
Andy Reid has made dominance like this look easy in Kansas City, his Chiefs wrapped up their fourth straight AFC West crown well before the season ended. KC is 5-0 in their division this season with the Chargers still on the schedule.
The Reid’s Chiefs are 26-3 in the AFC West since the 2015 season. That’s an amazing record, and even more amazing when you recall the three losses: an improbable loss at home to Denver when KC led 24-17 with under a minute to go but gave up a Peyton Manning TD pass and a defensive return after a Jamaal Charles fumble to lose in regulation; a 31-30 loss at Oakland in which the Raiders got several chances to score after penalties with the clock reading 0:00; and last season’s 29-28 heartbreaker at home against the Chargers when Philip Rivers threw a TD and a two-point conversion to a wide-open Mike Williams with just four seconds left. If not for those crazy games, the Chiefs might be undefeated in the division since 2015.
What’s the common thread in all of this? It’s Andy Reid. He’s had two GMs, two starting QBs, multiple coordinators and coaches plus dozens of different faces that roll through the roster each year.
Andy Reid is the constant for KC in a turbulent time in the AFC West that has seen multiple coaches franchises, heck, some of the franchises have/are changing cities and stadiums during Reid’s watch.
Reid was very successful in Philadelphia before coming to Chiefs Kingdom. Six NFC East titles, five trips to the conference championship game and a Super Bowl appearance would satisfy nearly every fan base. But a couple of seasons with no playoffs and Philly moved on from Reid.
Timing is everything. The Chiefs were in a dark place after 2012. They’d been spiraling as Clark Hunt was finding his way as the leader of the franchise. Multiple coaches weren’t able to find the magic potion for consistency. The experienced Reid, looking for a fresh start, was the perfect hire for Hunt to make and he made it.
The dividends are undeniable. Playoffs in every year but one, four straight division titles, the first NFL MVP in franchise history, hosting the first AFC championship in Arrowhead history… the list goes on and on.
But, the big prizes are still out there. Holding the Lamar Hunt Trophy for winning the AFC and the Lombardi Trophy for taking home the Super Bowl are the real goals for Reid and this franchise.
Everyone would like to fast-forward to January to see if those goals will fall. You can’t and shouldn’t want to do that. Enjoy this fantastic ride that Reid has taken you on and hope that Patrick Mahomes and a rejuvenated defense will provide the tools for him to realize the dream that you share with him… bringing a championship to Kansas City.