Who Can Dethrone the Champs? By John Brecko
Whether you like it or not (and I certainly don’t, even if I have a soft spot for Andy Reid), the Kansas City Chiefs are the best team in football right now. They prove it week in and week out.
via Patrick Mahomes IG
Their record is 13-1 this year. The game they lost was a 40-32 shootout to the Las Vegas Raiders.
They have the best quarterback in football right now in Patrick Mahomes. They have one of the greatest coaches in NFL history in Andy Reid, who was the greatest coach in NFL history to never win a Super Bowl until last year.
They have the best offense in the league with weapons everywhere you look. There are reliable people to throw the ball to in Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, the tight end Travis Kelce. They have a running attack that keeps Mahomes from having to throw the ball for an entire game (not that they need that).
Having Eric Bieniemy as your team’s offensive coordinator certainly doesn’t hurt either, especially since this is his third season in that position; not to mention he has been a coach for the Chiefs since 2013 (he was originally hired as the running backs coach).
A coach being with a team allows the players to get familiar with that person and vice versa. It allows them to form a bond. Speaking as a former football player, I can tell you from experience that it is something that matters. Andy Reid has also been with the Chiefs since 2013.
If you know of Andy Reid, you know he’s treated many people to cheeseburgers in his career as a coach. Food can motivate any athlete at any level! Treating a team to cheeseburgers for seven years straight provides a lot of motivation over an extended period of time. I guarantee that it has contributed to his success, especially as the head coach for the Chiefs.
All this raises a question. Who can dethrone the defending Super Bowl Champions when we get to the playoff portion of the 2020 NFL season?
First step to beating the Chiefs is to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field, because he will find a way to make plays.
The Chiefs have won 22 of their last 23 games (including their playoff run that resulted in the Super Bowl 54 victory) because they find a way to make plays.
They have won 22 of their last 23 games because no team has been able to come up with a consistent formula that has been able to stop that offense.
In their most recent game against the New Orleans Saints, they won 32-29. They had 3 of their 5 starting offensive lineman out with injuries. It was not enough to stop them from winning.
In the game before that against the Miami Dolphins, Patrick Mahomes threw three interceptions. This was only the third game he threw an interception all the year and the only game all year he threw more than one. That was not enough to stop them from winning either.
If you cannot stop a team’s biggest playmaker from making plays, you have to manage the clock and keep him off of the field.
If you want to be able to have the football in your possession as much as possible when you play the Chiefs, you have to be able to run the football.
When you look at teams that can run the football, you have to look at the Baltimore Ravens.
Lamar Jackson may be 0-3 against the Chiefs, but the fact that the Ravens are the only team to run the football more than 200 yards per game in the entire league cannot be overlooked.
On top of Lamar Jackson being able to run the football, J.K Dobbins and Gus Edwards have averaged about 5 yards a carry this season.
Having multiple players that can run the football matters because if only one player can do so consistently, he will not be able to rest adequately with a game plan that involves running the football all game long, which will affect how he plays.
The Cleveland Browns also have multiple people who can run the football in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Baker Mayfield cannot run the football like Lamar Jackson, but he can use his legs when he needs to and is currently playing some of the best football in his NFL career in the first year he has a stable coaching situation with Kevin Stefanski in his first year as the Browns Head Coach.
Unlike the Ravens, the Browns have not played the Chiefs since 2018 (Baker Mayfield’s rookie year and Patrick Mahomes’s first year as a starting quarterback).
There are other teams that could be included for this reason. Three examples are the Tennessee Titans (because Derrick Henry runs like a freight train), the Arizona Cardinals (who have Kyler Murray, who has been looking better in recent weeks after playing with a shoulder injury) and the Philadelphia Eagles (you heard me…they have Miles Sanders and now Jalen Hurts, who outrushed Kyler Murray this past week in the Eagles game against the Cardinals).
When Patrick Mahomes is on the field, a strategy that has some success is to keep many defenders in the secondary.
If you blitz Patrick Mahomes, he has shown he can still get the ball out in time and the speed of players like Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman when they are given open field because players are rushing Mahomes can be disastrous.
If you blitz Mahomes, you have to be able to blitz him with no more than four players.
The 49ers were able to do this and had a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter in this past Super Bowl. However, that was not enough either.
The Patriots kept their game with the Chiefs this year to 3 points until 9 minutes left in regulation in week 4 (this was while they had their backup quarterback in due to Cam Newton testing positive for covid-19, even if Cam has not had a good year).
The Las Vegas Raiders are the only team to get a victory over the Chiefs this season (the last team to do it before the Raiders picked up their shocking win in week 5 was the Titans in November of 2019), but they lost their second game against the Chiefs, even if it was only by 4 points.
I’ve given you plenty of examples where teams can game plan on how they can beat the Chiefs (and have tired), but the defending Super Bowl champions have won in spite of that.
The 49ers had a running game and dominated the game for more than three quarters, but that running game and their front four on defense STILL wasn’t enough.
All this and more is causing me to ask this question again:
Who can dethrone the defending Super Bowl Champions when we get to the playoff portion of the 2020 NFL season?