December 15, 2023 9:00am

How does the season play out for the Chiefs?

A rough road for the Chiefs during the regular season could extend into the playoffs

Photo of Rick Gosselin
NFL Correspondent

The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have gone from the team to beat in 2023 to the team that will be beaten in the playoffs in 2024.

Since Patrick Mahomes stepped in as the starting quarterback of the Chiefs in 2018, Kansas City has played in five consecutive AFC championship games and three Super Bowls, claiming two Lombardi Trophies. The Chiefs are closing in on their eighth consecutive AFC West title but, at 8-5, Kansas City is holding down only the third seed and would likely play the first road playoff game of the Mahomes era.

So in this week’s NFL Power Poll, we asked our panel of former players, coaches, officials, talent evaluators, writers and broadcasters how Kansas City’s season plays out. We offered up five options – a loss in the wild-card round, a loss in the AFC semifinals, a loss in the AFC title game, a loss in the Super Bowl or winning a third Lombardi Trophy of the Mahomes era.

Of the 177 votes cast, only 25 had the Chiefs returning to the Super Bowl in February. But 21 voters picked the Chiefs to lose the Super Bowl while only four picked Kansas City to win it all. Another 80 voters picked the Chiefs to lose in the AFC championship game, 69 picked KC to lose in the AFC semifinals and another three voters picked Kansas City to exit in the wild-card round.

“The Chiefs don't do the little things well and that will cost them in the postseason,” said Hall-of-Fame voter Ira Kaufman. “Their turnover differential is minus-7 and only four teams are worse. Critical penalties have been a major issue and KC doesn't have the potent offense to overcome its mistakes, averaging only 22.5 points per game. That's less than the Colts and barely more than the Browns and Broncos.”

The Chiefs have lost three of their four games since the bye to allow the surging Denver Broncos back into the AFC West race. Denver has won six of its last seven games to move to 7-6, just a game back of the Chiefs. Kansas City led the NFL in both offense and scoring last season and committed only 23 turnovers. This season the Chiefs rank seventh in offense, 11th in scoring and have already committed 22 turnovers with still four games remaining.

“The Chiefs receivers have dropped a league-leading 33 passes,” said former Hall-of-Fame voter Vito Stellino. “That will cost them in the playoffs and they won't return to Super Bowl.”

But Kansas City still has Mahomes, who has won 77 percent of his career starts.

“With no powerhouse in the AFC, it's quite possible the Chiefs go deep into the playoffs,” said Hall-of-Fame voter Barry Wilner. “At least until several more drops by receivers on key plays ends their season short of another Super Bowl trip.”

In our second question, we asked our panel who wins the key game on this weekend’s card – the only game pitting two division leaders, the Baltimore Ravens at the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Ravens lead the AFC North and hold down the top seed in the AFC with a 10-3 record. The Jaguars lead the AFC South with an 8-5 record.

The Ravens have won three straight games and seven of their last eight. The Jaguars have lost two in and three of their last five. Our panel says it will be no contest, picking the Ravens by a 154-23 count.

“The Jags beat Baltimore last year but after, losing to (Jake) browning and (Joe) Flacco the last two weeks, don't figure to beat them again,” Stellino said.

Added Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers: “Baltimore is just a better team than Jacksonville.”

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of significant key players in American sports today. It's member list draws on people from media, team management, and league management. It is not a scientific survey, but the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those who know most about the sport.

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