A year ago, the Chiefs finally reached pole position in the AFC playoffs in the past month, even gaining the opportunity to rest their starters in the season finale.
A year before that, they needed help from an unlikely source last weekend just to receive a first-round pass, which they turned into a Super Bowl.
The path to the AFC’s No.1 seed – now the only conference pass in a restructured playoff format – has unfolded in a different way this year. But the Chiefs are now in first place thanks to losses to the Titans and Patriots over the weekend.
Seven weeks into the season, the Chiefs were 11th in the AFC. Stepped in step by step, they’ve climbed that ladder and are finally at No.1 as the Steelers tour Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
A different route is a reminder that a different answer is required. They no longer run after the first seed. They protect him.
“I’m not going to tell you that you can’t be excited to be in this position, but you have a better understanding of what brought you into this position,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said on Monday. “It wasn’t being giddy about it. It was about working.
“We have enough senior leaders here to make it resonate with the young, the new. I think everything will be fine like this. And we’ll definitely (be OK) once we start practicing – we’ll make sure. “
The Chiefs had a unique opportunity to learn how they have moved on top of the AFC.
They watched it themselves.
After playing Thursday night in Los Angeles, they had the opportunity to sit down and watch the Colts take out the Patriots on Saturday and the Steelers beat the Titans on Sunday.
Just like that, the third place became the first.
“They were good games to watch. I was a spectator, like everyone else because we didn’t have the (players) here. I enjoyed the competition, ”said Reid.
The Chiefs reached that position with seven straight wins. (Remember the conversation about whether they would even make the playoffs?)
But with four conference losses at the start of the year, they hold the tiebreaker against virtually no one in the game for the seed. Therefore, they have to fend off teams like the Titans and Patriots by a full game. They must end with a better balance sheet.
The simplest math? Win it all. No one can catch up with the Chiefs if they conclude with wins over the Steelers (home), Bengals (road) and Broncos (road).
By the way, the Titans and Patriots each have tough jobs this weekend. The Titans welcome the expanding 49ers (five out of six winners) to Thursday Night Football. The Patriots welcome the Bills.
So the chiefs could get more help along the way. A little respite.
“I know how it goes. I see that, ”said Reid. “But the important thing is that we are going about our own business now as we have been doing in recent weeks and not relying on anyone but ourselves to do it.”
“Therefore, you have to look back at the process and the hard work and all that stuff to get ready for the game.”
This story was originally published 20 December 2021 13:28.