Let’s play everyone’s favorite game: predicting the regular season record of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020.
Now, this is no easy task and nearly impossible to predict. I’m assuming almost nobody had the Chiefs going 5-3 at home and 7-1 on the road in 2019. Moreover, that the Ryan Tannehill led Titans would be the lone road loss. It’s a good reminder that the NFL is constantly changing and that the phrase, “Any given Sunday” even effects the reigning Super Bowl champions.
While we won’t know the week-to-week schedule of the Chiefs until later this week, we do know the opponents and whether the game will be at Arrowhead or on the road. The AFC West plays the AFC East and NFC South this season. The Chiefs will also play the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens because they each finished first in their respective AFC division, like the Chiefs. Rounding out the schedule, we have the six AFC West divisional games.
Instead of looking at each game individually (way too early for that), I’ve decided to break it down into three categories: Should Win, Competitive, and Underdogs. The Should Win category are games I would be very surprised if the Chiefs lost. The Competitive category are games the Chiefs will probably win, but it wouldn’t be unthinkable to see the Chiefs lose. The Underdogs category are the Chiefs toughest games. Predicting those games will be a coin flip. I will make my Chiefs record prediction at the end.
Should Win: All 6 Division games, Jets, Panthers, New England, Dolphins
This is by far the Chiefs biggest category, as 10 of the 16 games are found here. A big reason for that is due to the Chiefs dominance in their own division. Since 2015, the Chiefs are 27-3 in the AFC West. Patrick Mahomes is 12-1 against the division in his young career and I expect the dominance to continue. The Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers lack a big-time quarterback to threaten the firepower of the Chiefs offense. Derrick Carr is probably the best QB not named Mahomes in the division, but a case for both Drew Lock and Tyrod Taylor could be made. That’s all you need to know about the AFC West.
The AFC East also contributes a large portion of the Chiefs easier games. The Dolphins and Jets appear to be on the right path, but more evidence is needed before I can bump them up. The Jets are especially interesting as I like what they did to their offensive line, but I’m not ready to say Sam Darnold is ready to come into Arrowhead and give the Chiefs a scare.
It’s weird putting the Patriots here, but we have no idea how they are going to respond to the loss of Tom Brady. They don’t have an established QB and the loss of Kyle Van Noy to the defense is somehow wildly under the radar. To top it all off, they have to come into Arrowhead. This game will by hyped up more than it should be, but it will be the most confident I have ever been against the Patriots.
Rounding it out is the Panthers. New head coach, new quarterback, and some major personnel losses have left this team in a tough spot to begin the season. This is a game to watch on the schedule, though. If the Panthers’ game is later in the season and the Chiefs are coming off a short week/primetime game, this could be a tougher matchup.
Competitive: Texans, Bills, Bucs, Falcons
Six of the eight home games were in the first category and they other two can be found here. I’m sure a lot of people have the Texans and Falcons as should win games, but it’s the quarterbacks of these two teams that keeps them here.
The Texans made some questionable decisions this offseason, but still have Deshaun Watson. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league and has already come into Arrowhead and won. You can bet he’ll also want revenge for his last visit to Kansas City. The Chiefs will more than likely win this game, but it would not be a surprise if Watson willed his team to a win.
The Falcons are probably the biggest surprise here, but it again has to do with the quarterback. Matt Ryan is a former MVP and still an exceptionally good NFL quarterback. The Falcons went 6-2 over their last 8 last seasons and have very good offensive weapons. The Chiefs’ secondary, specifically cornerback, is one of their few weaknesses. If Ryan, along with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Todd Gurley have a good day, we could be in for a shootout. And shootouts don’t always go the way you think they should.
The Bills and Bucs are on the road and both look to be playoff teams. The Bills have a good defense and an athletic quarterback in Josh Allen. Allen could give the Chiefs some problems and the Bills have the defense to slow down Mahomes and the offense. Playing in Buffalo is tougher than many recognize.
The Bucs game will be one of the most hyped games of the season and that is because of Tom Brady. Will he still be the unstoppable force he was in New England? Probably not, but he sure has the weapons to try. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and possibly Gronk should give the Chiefs some problems. The saving grace for the Chiefs is Tampa might have the worst secondary in the league. This could be another shootout.
Underdogs: Ravens, Saints
The term underdog is an exaggeration when talking about the Chiefs. Are you ever really an underdog as the reigning Super Bowl champs with the best player in the league? No, you aren’t, but there are games that will be more challenging than most.
Playing on the road in Baltimore and New Orleans will be difficult. The Ravens game is almost a guarantee to be at primetime and there’s never a good time to play in the Superdome. Both teams have complete rosters and very good quarterbacks.
There are some question marks. Will Drew Brees continue to play at an elite level at 41? Will Lamar Jackson replicate his MVP season? Even if the answer is no to both, these will still be tough games. Both defenses are good and we know what a home crowd can do for a defense. It would not take very many mistakes to fathom the Chiefs losing to either of these teams.
For Chiefs fans, the game in Baltimore will be the most anticipated game of the season. The rivalry between these two teams has really picked up the last couple years and each team has a MVP from the last two seasons. The Chiefs are 2-0 against Jackson, but both of those games were in Arrowhead. Will the narrative switch in Baltimore?
Record Prediction: 13-3
The Chiefs bring back most of the pieces that helped them win a Super Bowl. They have Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. They will be favored in at least 14 of their 16 games. There’s no reason to worry about a Super Bowl hangover. This team will be good again and put themselves in a great position to win another Super Bowl.