Kansas City Chiefs Dominate Weak AFC West Like New England Patriots Did In AFC East


Patrick Mahomes leads the Chiefs to another division title.

Getty Images

With their 30-24 overtime victory against the Houston Texans, the Kansas City Chiefs have clinched the AFC West title for an astounding seventh straight year.

“It’s a huge deal. Obviously, you want to win the Super Bowl every year, but it starts (with) our first goal,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said, “to win the AFC West.”

The Chiefs’ seventh-consecutive division title ties the 1973-79 Los Angeles Rams for the second-longest streak of division titles in NFL history.

But the more appropriate and modern comparison is the New England Patriots dynasty. New England won 16 of 17 AFC East titles from 2003 to 2019, including 11 straight from 2009 to 2019.

As part of their divisional dominance, the Chiefs and Patriots share the traits of having a transcendent quarterback (Mahomes and Tom Brady) and a future Hall of Fame coach (Andy Reid and Bill Belichick).

In addition to those teams’ overall excellence, however, they also benefited from playing in weak divisions.

During the Patriots’ reign from 2003 to 2019, only six times did the division feature another playoff-bound team with 10 or more wins. And from 2011 to 2014, no other AFC East teams reached the playoffs or recorded double-digit wins.

While the Patriots were led by Belichick and Brady, the rest of the teams in the division churned through different starting quarterbacks and head coaches. And the same is now happening in the AFC West.

Since Peyton Manning retired from the Denver Broncos following the 2015 season, the franchise has gone though myriad quarterbacks, head coaches and now even have new owners. The Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles have endured dysfunction from the top down, and each has recently moved to a new city.

During Kansas City’s six previous AFC West titles, the division featured neither a 10-win team nor a playoff team (other than the Chiefs) half of those years, including during the Chiefs’ back-to-back Super Bowl seasons of 2019 and 2020.

This year the Chargers are the only other possible AFC West team that could reach 10 wins or make the playoffs.

Criticizing the AFC West as a whole is not meant to detract from the Chiefs’ overall brilliance.

The Chiefs continue to dominate — even in a year when the rest of the division loaded up on big-name acquisitions like Russell Wilson, whose average annual value (AAV) ranks second in the NFL, and Randy Gregory, who was signed to a five-year, $70 million contract, on the Broncos; Davante Adams, who has the second highest AAV among NFL receivers, on the Raiders and J.C. Jackson, who was signed to a five-year, $82.5 million contract, and Khalil Mack on the Chargers.

Though the Chiefs’ current streak started with Alex Smith, who guided the Chiefs to AFC West titles in 2016 and 2017, Mahomes running Reid’s offense has been the consistent factor.

Since being drafted in 2017, Mahomes is an amazing 15-0 in road games in the AFC West and he’s 10-0 against the Broncos, who he defeated last week.

A leading candidate for MVP, he extended his NFL lead in passing touchdowns and passing yards with a 36-of-41, 336-yard performance against the Texans.

The face of the NFL, he is at the forefront of the winning culture Reid has established. And the Chiefs’ run of seven straight divisional crowns is a testament to their skill and determination.

“We just really emphasize playing our division opponents,” Mahomes said. “That’s something that we work on all offseason.”

But the Chiefs’ divisional dominance is also a reflection of the sorry state of the AFC West.





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