The Kansas City Chiefs faced adversity throughout the year but managed to soldier on well enough for quite a while, nearly securing their second consecutive Super Bowl victory. The offensive line lost two starters — Kelechi Osemele and Mitchell Schwartz — early in the season, reshuffling the offensive line to account for their absence. Wideout Sammy Watkins missed multiple games as well as did multiple key contributors. Even so, Patrick Mahomes kept the group afloat despite battling turf toe for a significant portion of the campaign.
But as the injuries kept mounting, the offense finally broke. Left tackle Eric Fisher suffered a torn Achilles during the playoffs, opening the floodgates to opposing pass rushers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took full advantage during the Super Bowl, hitting Mahomes 10 times and limiting the Chiefs to just nine points.
Entering 2021, the Chiefs remain a force in the AFC. And while their core remains the same, the team has worked to improve its supporting cast.
14-2, 1st place AFC West
Points: 22.8 points per game, rank 10th
Yards: 5.6 yards per play, rank 16th
Football Outsiders ranking: 22nd
Points: 28.5 points per game, rank 6th
Yards: 6.3 yards per play, rank 2nd
Football Outsiders ranking: 2nd
Super Bowl: +500
AFC/NFC Champion: +250
AFC West: -250
Win Total: 12.5 (Over +105, Under -125)
After the offensive line broke down during the postseason, the Chiefs remade much of the unit. Fisher and Schwartz received their releases in moves partially motivated by the salary cap. To fill their spots, the team traded a first-round pick for Orlando Brown Jr. and moved Mike Remmers back to right tackle, respectively. Kansas City also remodeled the middle of the unit, signing Joe Thuney, Austin Blythe, and Kyle Long. Between the cavalcade of veteran O-linemen and the addition of second-round pick Creed Humphrey, Mahomes should have quality pass protection once again.
Due to cap limitations, the Chiefs made fewer additions on defense. Mike Hughes comes over from the Minnesota Vikings to compete for a starting cornerback role while second-round pick Nick Bolton will have the chance to carve out a niche at linebacker.
Elsewhere, the Chiefs moved on from Watkin and running back Damien Williams.
Biggest question entering training camp
With Watkins gone, the Chiefs will have to figure out which wideout will take over as opposite Tyreek Hill. Former second-round pick Mecole Hardman has flashed at times and possesses impressive speed, but he has yet to establish himself as a full-time starter due in part to inconsistent hands (eight drops in 2020). Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle return to compete for playing time, but each has their own shortcomings as receivers as well.
What needs to happen for the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl?
The Chiefs have a Super Bowl-worthy roster and coaching staff, they just need to stay a little healthier than last season in order to finish the job. Even a semi-compromised roster still has enough talent to take home the Lombardi Trophy.
Even with increased challenges from the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, and others within the conference, the AFC still runs through Kansas City. Mahomes needs only modest assistance to lift the Chiefs offense to the top of the NFL, and the defense has the talent to improve over 2020’s middling performance.