May 17, 2024 9:00am

Who can stop the Kansas City Chiefs?

A couple of familiar foes could be standing in the way of a KC three-peat

Photo of Rick Gosselin
NFL Correspondent

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will attempt to take a step in 2024 that Joe Montana and the 49ers, Troy Aikman and the Cowboys and Tom Brady and the Patriots all could not take in their careers – a third consecutive Lombardi Trophy.

The last team to win three consecutive NFL championships was the Green Bay Packers from 1965-67. But the 1965 title came in the pro-Super Bowl era. Then the Packers won back-to-back Lombardi Trophies in 1996-67. The Packers, Dolphins, Steelers, 49ers, Cowboys, Broncos and Patriots had the chance for a third consecutive title since then but all failed.

Now it’s Kansas City’s turn – but two familiar opponents could be standing stand in the way.

In this month’s NFL Power Poll, we asked our panel of former players, coaches, officials, talent evaluators, writers and broadcasters to predict which AFC team is standing in the way of a third consecutive AFC title for the Chiefs and which NFC team is standing in the way of that third Lombardi Trophy. The winners? Baltimore in the AFC and the 49ers in the NFC.

The Ravens received 58 of the 138 votes cast in the AFC poll, followed by the Cincinnati Bengals with 45, the Houston Texans with 12, the Buffalo Bills with 11, the Miami Dolphins with 3 and the Los Angeles Chargers with 2. There were seven other votes cast for “others.”

The 49ers received 65 of the votes cast in the NFC poll, followed by the Detroit Lions with 48, the Philadelphia Eagles with 12, the Los Angeles Rams with 6, the Dallas Cowboys with 4 and the Green Bay Packers with 3.

The Chiefs beat the Ravens in the AFC championship game last season, 17-10, then defeated the 49ers in the Super Bowl, 25-22. Kansas City also defeated San Francisco in the 2020 Super Bowl.

“It all comes down to health,” said Bruce Castleberry, the sports editor of the Boston Herald.

Health is something the Bengals didn’t have last year, losing quarterback Joe Burrow in the 10th game of the season with torn ligaments in his right wrist. Cincinnati beat San Francisco, Buffalo and the Rams with Burrow in 2023 but lost three games down the stretch without him to miss out on the playoffs.

“With a healthy and productive Joe Burrow, the Bengals should be the biggest obstacle for the Chiefs,” said Barry Wilner, a Hall-of-Fame voter and past Associated Press football editor. “Cincinnati is more balanced — again, if healthy—and has a better history against Kansas City than any of the other AFC contenders.”

The Chiefs open the 2024 season with games against the Ravens the first weekend and the Bengals the second. Kansas City also plays the 49ers in Santa Clara in October. Which brings us to the NFC side of the bracket.

“The Niners came as close as possible to dethroning the Chiefs in February and still seem to be the biggest threat to a threepeat,” Wilner added.

But don’t rule out the surging Lions, who beat the Chiefs in the 2023 season opener in Kansas City and then led the 49ers at halftime, 24-7, before falling in the NFC title game at Santa Clara.

“The Lions proved last season they are a talented team on the rise,” said Hall-of-Fame voter Ira Kaufman of “Their recent drafts have added some impact players on both sides of the ball and Jared Goff is more than capable of leading Detroit a long way.”

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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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