The Kansas City Chiefs are back in another Super Bowl – their third in the last four years – but how did they get there?
With the retirement of record seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady still fresh in the memory, the man who looks to be the greatest challenger to his throne as the ‘GOAT’, Patrick Mahomes, gets the chance to add a second ring to his collection at Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arizona on Sunday.
Live Super Bowl LVII
February 12, 2023, 10:00pm
That said, not only are the Eagles a fearsome opponent standing in their way, but there are injury concerns over the Kansas City star QB heading into the big game.
Here, we take a look back on the Chiefs’ road to Super Bowl LVII…
What went right?
The Chiefs once again proved themselves to be the elite of the NFL, particularly on offense, owning the No 1 unit in points per game (29.2), yards per game (413.6) and passing yards per game (297.8).
Kansas City’s 14-3 regular-season record not only wrapped up a seventh-straight AFC West divisional title, but it also secured them the No 1 seed in the conference for the third time in their dominant present-day stretch.
Kansas City Chiefs 2022 season (14-3)
|1||@ Cardinals||W 44-21|
|2||vs Chargers||W 27-24|
|3||@ Colts||L 17-20|
|4||@ Buccaneers||W 44-31|
|5||vs Radiers||W 30-29|
|6||vs Bills||L 20-24|
|7||@ 49ers||W 44-23|
|9||vs Titans||W 20-17 (OT)|
|10||vs Jaguars||W 27-17|
|11||@ Chargers||W 30-27|
|12||vs Rams||W 26-10|
|13||@ Bengals||L 24-27|
|14||@ Broncos||W 34-28|
|15||@ Texans||W 30-24 (OT)|
|16||vs Seahawks||W 24-10|
|17||vs Broncos||W 27-24|
|18||@ Raiders||W 31-13|
Highlights from the year include a 44-21 thumping of the Cardinals, in Arizona, on the opening day of the season to signal their intent, while they edged out Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 in a thriller a week later.
Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were comfortably put away 41-31 in Week Four, as were the San Francisco 49ers 44-23 in Week Seven – both huge road victories against major NFC contenders.
The victory over the 49ers would kickstart a run of 10 wins across 11 games to close out the season, with only a defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals sandwiched in between.
But the Chiefs would ultimately have the last laugh, with star quarterback Mahomes gaining revenge for that defeat, and for his three total losses in three career games to Joe Burrow and the Bengals, with their 23-20 victory in the AFC Championship game over the same opponents to book their Super Bowl spot.
Kansas City Chiefs 2022 regular season rankings
|1st||DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average)||17th|
|1st||EPA/play (Expected points added)||15th|
What went wrong?
As usual, not a great deal. Although there was the odd hiccup along the way, none more bizarre and unaccounted for than the 20-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week Three – a team which would ultimately end the season a dreadful 4-12-1.
Also, a 24-20 loss at home to the Buffalo Bills in Week Six that dropped the Chiefs to 4-2 on the year would hint towards a possible changing of the guard in the AFC, with Buffalo earning a second-straight regular-season win at Arrowhead (and after having pushed Kansas City all the way in an incredible overtime finish to their divisional round match-up in the playoffs the previous year).
But, while the Bills and the Bengals – who would themselves defeat the Chiefs in Week 13 – threatened to steal Kansas City’s throne, neither were able to deliver the decisive blow, with Buffalo bested by Cincinnati in the divisional round this time, before they themselves were undone in the AFC title game by Mahomes and co.
And a banged up Mahomes and Chiefs offense, at that. One of the biggest concerns going into Super Bowl LVII this Sunday is certainly the health of Kansas City’s star quarterback, who picked up a high ankle sprain in their divisional round win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He has not looked the same since, limping his way through the subsequent one-and-a-half outings, only serving to make his sensational match-winning performances in those wins over the Jags and the Bengals all the more impressive.
Wideout Mecole Hardman has already been ruled out of the Super Bowl due to injury, while JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kadarius Toney were also banged up against the Bengals, weakening Mahomes’ receiving corps, with progress to be monitored this week.
Starting with the most obvious selection of them all, Mahomes, of course. The 27-year-old is favourite to win a second league MVP title this season in just his fifth year as a starter in the NFL.
Mahomes set a new record for the most offensive yards (5,614) in NFL history this season – breaking down as 5,250 passing yards, 358 rush yards and six receiving. He also led the league in passing TDs during the regular season, with 41, six greater than Josh Allen (Bills) and Burrow (Bengals) tied for second on 35. And Mahomes did it all despite the team trading away his best receiver too, with Tyreek Hill moving to the Miami Dolphins in the offseason.
Mahomes has at least retained the comfort blanket Travis Kelce on offense, with the superstar tight end notching his seventh-straight 1,000-yard season, finishing 2022 with 1,338 yards along with a career-high 12 TDs.
Also, following on from last week’s AFC Championship game, only one quarterback and receiver duo have connected for more postseason touchdowns than Mahomes and Kelce’s 13 (Brady and Rob Gronkowski with 15).
Also, look out for seventh-round rookie Isaiah Pacheco, who has added a real spark to this Kansas City offense since his introduction midway through the season, averaging over five yards per carry, while defensive tackle Chris Jones is the standout from an underrated defense, having equalled his career high of 15.5 sacks this season.
REPORT: Jaguars 20-27 Chiefs – Divisional Round
Kansas City are 5-0 in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs with Mahomes at quarterback. Though, having said that, this particular victory against the Jaguars to open their playoff run almost came without their star QB at the helm.
Mahomes missed most of the second quarter due to the injury he sustained to his right ankle, but ultimately returned to finish 22 of 30 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns, while back-up quarterback Chad Henne also threw a scoring pass in his absence.
Kelce’s 14 receptions (for 98 yards), meanwhile, tied for the third most in NFL postseason history, with Marquez Valdes-Scantling also adding a touchdown catch for Kansas City.
REPORT: Bengals 20-23 Chiefs – AFC Championship
The Chiefs had never before hosted a single Conference Championship game in franchise history, but are now coming into the Super Bowl off the back of hosting a fifth in a row, with Mahomes and co this time getting the better of the Bengals in a repeat of last year’s AFC title game which they lost.
Despite being hampered by his injured ankle, Mahomes threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in the contest and the Chiefs’ star QB also helped set up the game-winning field goal on a crucial five-yard scramble for a first down with 12 seconds left.
As he crossed the sideline, Mahomes was shoved when already out of bounds by Cincinnati defender Joseph Ossai, resulting in a 15-yard penalty to further aid Harrison Butker’s game-winning kick to break a 20-20 tie after another epic battle with the Bengals.
Super Bowl pedigree
Despite their dominance over the past five seasons – appearing in five-straight AFC Championships – since Mahomes became the starter at QB in Kansas City, it has thus far translated into just one Super Bowl title over that span.
They lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy on their first visit to the Super Bowl in 50 years when they beat the 49ers to cap the 2018 season, with Mahomes named MVP after engineering a comeback from 20-10 down midway through the fourth quarter.
They have made it all the way to the Super Bowl on four occasions in total, losing to the Green Bay Packers in the first-ever Super Bowl to be played, back in the 1966 season, before triumphing over the Minnesota Vikings three years later.
After their Super Bowl LIV win over the Niners to break the drought, the Chiefs missed the chance to go back-to-back as they were beaten by Brady and the Bucs in the big game following the Covid-disrupted 2020 season.
The concern for the Chiefs would be that, much like he is heading into this game, Mahomes was hobbled by injury in that game, making it easier for Tampa Bay’s ferocious pass rush to get after him and limit his explosive Chiefs offense to only nine points.
With the Philadelphia Eagles, and their own hugely-intimidating defensive line full of monsters, awaiting in Super Bowl LVII, Mahomes’ ability to still deliver enough magic moments despite his ankle injury will prove key to deciding the outcome of the game.
Watch Super Bowl LVII – Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles – live on Sky Sports NFL and Main Event from 10pm on Sunday, February 12