“Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs” by elisfkc is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0.
The 2021 NFL season kicked off on September 9, and its regular season runs through to January 9, 2022. The playoffs are scheduled for January 15, 2022, with the Super Bowl LVI taking place at the SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California, on February 13, 2022. Kansas City Chiefs are still the favorites for Super Bowl glory despite a shaky start to the current season.
Head coach Andy Reid guided the Chiefs to a second consecutive Super Bowl during the 2020 campaign. The Chiefs won the 2019 Super Bowl and were terrific in 2020, going 14-2 in the regular season before progressing to Super Bowl LV versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A disappointing 9-31 defeat ended the dreams of back-to-back Super Bowls.
A Disappointing Start to the Season
Everything pointed towards the Chiefs being the team to beat in 2021. They went 3-0 during their trio of preseason games, setting them up perfectly for the 17-game regular season. Things have not exactly started well for Reid’s much-fancied Chiefs, who are looking to become only the fourth team in NFL history to play in three straight Super Bowls. The usually dominant Chiefs faced the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, a game everyone expected the Chiefs to breeze through. That was not the case at all.
The Chiefs trailed 22-10 at the end of the half, and a rare heavy defeat looked likely. However, quarterback Patrick Mahomes inspired an impressive comeback, and the Chiefs ultimately ran out 33-29 winners. Amazingly, Mahomes is 22-4 (.846) when his team does not score first, the highest win percentage in the Super Bowl era.
“File:Patrick Mahomes II.JPG” by Jeffrey Beall is licensed with CC BY 4.0.
Week 2 saw the Chiefs head on the road to the Baltimore Ravens, who were 11-5 last season like the Browns. Chiefs started well and led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. The Ravens cut the deficit by halftime but still trailed 17-21. Mahomes threw two touchdown passes in the third, giving the Chiefs a 35-24 advantage, but the Ravens scored 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, including two rushing touchdowns for quarterback Lemar Jackson, which handed a 36-35 victory to the visitors.
Los Angeles Chargers (7-9 in 2020) visited the Chiefs on Week 3 in a game the home side should have won comfortably, should being the operative word. However, the Chargers went in 14-3 to the good at halftime despite a non-scoring first quarter. Mahomes rallied his troops with a brace of short touchdown passes to tip the scales in the Chiefs’ favor 17-14. A 20-yard pass by Justin Herbert to Mike Williams made it 21-17 to the Chargers going into the fourth quarter.
Defensive Frailties There For All The See
The usually tight Chiefs defense allowed another 16 points in the fourth quarter, while Mahomes could only create seven points for his team, meaning the Chiefs lost 30-24 and went 1-2 through the first three games.
Worryingly for Chiefs fans, their team has allowed 25-points or more in four straight games for the first time since 2008; they went 2-14 that season. Obviously, that will not happen in 2021, but Reid and his defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo have some serious work ahead of them.
Defensively, the Chiefs rank third-worst in the NFL for yards allowed (1,290), second-worst for rushing yards allowed (481), and have allowed the joint-most points (95) for an average of 31.7 points against per game. The Chiefs only allowed 362 points (average of 22.6) across 16 regular-season games in 2020. It is all well and good having a great offense, but a solid defense wins you games. At the rate the Chiefs are leaking points, Mahomes will have to have a record-breaking season to drag the Chiefs to the playoffs.
Chiefs travel to the Philadelphia Eagles on October 3 before hosting the much-fancied Buffalo Bills on October 10. On the road fixtures against Washington Football Team and the Tennessee Titans come before welcoming the New York Giants, who are currently 0-3.
Last season, you would say the Chiefs would bulldoze their way through four of those next five games, but we would not be so sure in 2021. It will be interesting to see if the Chiefs remain favorites for the Super Bowl if they slip up in only one of their next five fixtures.