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The Kansas City Chiefs are known for their fiery offense, fueled by Patrick Mahomes’s stunning pass plays and Isiah Pacheco’s trustworthy running game and with a defense that is ranked second-best in the NFL, the Chiefs have been front-page news all season. It looks like that isn’t changing because the Chiefs are on their way to their sixth consecutive AFC Championship game.
The Chiefs, who finished the regular season 11-6, entered the postseason as an underdog. While still strong, their offense hasn’t resembled what it has in years past. Mahomes has nearly had the highest ball turnover rate of his career. The offensive line consistently struggled, leaving Mahomes scrambling and unable to complete his passes, as the team’s receivers led the NFL in drops. It didn’t look good for the Chiefs, who lost 14-20 on Christmas Day to the Las Vegas Raiders. However, the following week, the Chiefs recovered and beat the Cincinnati Bengals 25-17 and continued their winning streak during Week 18 by barely scraping by the Los Angeles Chargers 13-12.
Even amidst their regular season mediocrity, it was enough to claim them the AFC West and a Number Three conference seed.
We see a stark difference in results when we look at their offensive performance in the postseason versus their regular season. In the regular season, the Chiefs only averaged 21 points per game and scored 24 or more points six times, the lowest in the Patrick Mahomes era. If they had averaged 26 points per game, five more than they did, they would have won every game on their regular season schedule, with how good their defense is. These numbers differ from their playoff statistics, where the Chiefs scored 53 points combined.
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During the postseason, however, the Chiefs finally figured it out. During the Wild Card round, they dominated the Miami Dolphins, winning 26-7. They continued their streak by beating the Buffalo Bills, led by quarterback Josh Allen, 27-24. During this game, the Chiefs averaged 7.7 yards per play, a season-high. Star running back Pacheco did his part, too, with 6.5 yards per carry.
In the highly anticipated AFC championship, the Chiefs faced the Baltimore Ravens (13-4). As the Number One seed in the AFC, they directly qualified for the divisional round without having to play in the wild-card game. On January 20th, they beat the Houston Texans 34-10.
Raven’s quarterback Lamar Jackson, the likely NFL MVP, has had a record-setting regular season. He has had career highs in completions (307), completion percentage (67.2), and yards passing (3,678). As a previous MVP, two-time All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowler, and Heisman Trophy winner, the quarterback is itching to get to a Super Bowl.
The Raven’s defense has a record tied for allowing the second-fewest passing touchdowns (18) and finished with the most sacks in the NFL (60). They were among the top in interceptions (68) and passing yards allowed (3,676).
Mahomes said this about facing Lamar Jackson and the Ravens: “Yeah, he’s going to be the MVP for a reason. He goes out there, leads his team, he scores, he runs, he throws, he does whatever it takes to win, and that’s what the greats do. Like I said, it will be a great challenge for our defense, but also a great challenge for our offense going against their defense. It’s going to take a full team effort if we want to find a way to get a win.”
While the Chiefs haven’t had the season they are used to, their endurance and adaptability in the postseason should definitely be remembered for years to come.
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