Kansas City Chiefs: The Super Bowl hangover is real and it’s getting ugly

After losing 27-3 to the Tennessee Titans, the Kansas City Chiefs sit at 3-4 with several questions and the scary notion that they may have been figured out. 

Not so long ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were seen as a team with no flaws and could be invincible, unbreakable, unstoppable, and unshakeable. The offense was spectacular, making highlight-reel plays and capturing the attention of the football world.

And then the Super Bowl happened. A 31-9 loss and Carrie Underwood’s Champion lyrics were blessed upon the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Andy Reid’s unit walked off the field that night disappointed, but despite that, there was the feeling that this team would bounce back and redeem themselves with some improvements.

It’s been downhill since. Fast forward to Sunday’s 27-3 drubbing by the Tennessee Titans, and the Kingdom sits at 3-4, having lost five of their last eight games, including the debacle in Tampa Bay last February.

Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl hangover is real

Losing is a recently unfamiliar feeling for the men in red. Since 2018, when Patrick Mahomes started Week 1 at quarterback, Kansas City only lost eight regular-season games. Last season, Mahomes only lost one regular-season game that he started, but the Chiefs finished 14-2, losing the season-finale against the Chargers with Chad Henne at the helm. Mahomes only played one game in 2017 and won it.

Moreover, despite the glitz and glamour from the offense, the defense has been porous. Yes, they had great moments during their Super Bowl championship run in 2019, including the big game itself; but there’s been little to no resistance. In 2018, they allowed over 35 points per game and wound up with the AFC’s best record, but collapsed in the AFC Championship Game, and no, it was not because of the coin toss.

2019 was slightly better, as mentioned before, dropping to 28.2 PPG, but it rose yet again in 2020, up to 29.6. This season, they are giving up 26.9 PPG on average, the lowest since #15 took over the offense, but they are losing games.

It’s easy to point the finger at Bob Sutton in 2018 and Steve Spagnuolo now as they run the show on the defensive side of the ball. But therein lies an issue. Kansas City currently spends 25% of their salary cap on the defensive line, and the unit cannot stop the run nor generate a pass rush. As such, they rank near the bottom of the league in several categories.

Though they held Derrick Henry to 90 yards rushing in their last game, Kansas City lost by 24 points. Ryan Tannehill had a rushing touchdown for the Titans, and Henry threw for a score. Chris Jones has not been the same since moving to defensive end, and Tyrann Mathieu cannot cover the back end all by himself.

The offense, coordinated by Eric Bieniemy, is not safe from criticism either. After the Super Bowl, Kansas City took drastic measures by trying to fix their offensive line. Signing Joe Thuney, drafting Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, and trading for Orlando Brown looked to have fixed the issue, at least on paper.

Instead, it has been a revolving door. The rushing attack, or lack thereof, is appalling, forcing more pressure on the passing game. Defenses seem to have caught on to the game plan to neutralize the Chiefs’ attack, evidenced by Mahomes having thrown 16 interceptions in his last 16 games, nine this season which leads the league, and has six straight games with an interception.

The Kansas City Chiefs are dealing with several issues that need fixing or risk losing the season in an already competitive conference.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Chiefs. The New York Giants may not have a spectacular record, but they are not a pushover. Kansas City will then face Green Bay, Vegas, and Dallas, all three teams currently in contention to make the playoffs in their respective conferences.

That’s a gauntlet, and it’s possible that Kansas City could go 1-3 over that stretch; that would drop the record to 4-7. Or they could turn it around and win some of those games and get back to credibility. Keep in mind that the Jets, now at 1-5 in 2021, beat the Titans earlier this year, so anything is possible.

The best way the Chiefs can overcome this is to keep their defense off the field and play more methodically on offense, i.e., run the football. It may not be glamorous, but it can help, and sometimes, the boring method can be the most effective.

If teams choose to keep two safeties back when playing defense, consistent running of the football will force them to drop a safety down and allow Mahomes and co. to open up the passing game and create more one-on-one opportunities for Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

The NFL has adjusted to the Kansas City Chiefs style of play, and it falls back on Reid and his troops to figure out a solution to this issue or face more trouble down the road.