Can The Kansas City Chiefs Defend Their Crown?

The Kansas City Chiefs took another step in cementing their dynastic moniker when they won their second Super Bowl in four years last season. Andy Reid’s men put in some amazing performances in 2022/2023 on their way to lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy with quarterback Patrick Mahomes winning the NFL MVP for the second time in his career. The former first round pick also claimed his second Super Bowl MVP award following their thrilling 38-35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Travis Kelce also had yet another stunning season for the Chiefs, continuing his run of seven consecutive 1000+ yard seasons. The supporting cast around the two star players stepped up to claim the Chiefs’ third overall Super Bowl win and their performances have people wondering if they can go on to defend their crown in 2023/24.

Their chances of doing so are extremely strong. Early NFL lines and odds have them as favorites for next years Super Bowl, followed by the Eagles, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. There are of course many factors that play a role in this happening however.

Key Players

The two standout players in Kansas City are of course the aforementioned Mahomes and Kelce. Following Tyreek Hill’s trade to the Miami Dolphins in last year’s offseason, there were some questions surrounding the firepower of the Chiefs’ receivers. However, they were boosted by the signing of JuJu Smith-Schuster in March 2022. Mahomes’ go-to-guy though was of course the best tight end in the league in Kelce. His activity was boosted by the absence of Hill and he made a career-high 110 receptions last season along with a career-high 12 touchdowns. The 33-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down and seems to be ageing like fine wine.

There is not much that can be said here about Mahomes that hasn’t already been said. His 5025 passing yards last year was a career-high as was his 67.1 completion percentage. He picked up an ankle injury in the playoffs and still managed to play through it in standout performances. To state the obvious, he is absolutely integral to any Chiefs success.

One of the biggest surprises of last season was perhaps the success of Isiah Pacheco. Drafted 251st overall, Pacheco was not projected to do much of anything according to his 2022 draft scouting report. One report read “Outside of his NFL frame, his traits are pretty average.” With another saying that he “lacks explosiveness”. He went on to have a way above average year, rushing for 830 yards in the regular season as well as scoring a TD in the Super Bowl. He was one of the best rookies last year and is now comfortably in front of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerrick McKinnon as the starting running back in Kansas City.

Draft Moves

The Chiefs traded up yet again in 2023. After losing JuJu to the Patriots and Mecole Hardman in free agency, they were looking to rebuild their receiving unit. They set their sights on a couple of different players, all of which would go to Mahomes’ training base so the 2x MVP could get a closer look. Of the group who attended it was SMU prospect Rashee Rice who caught the eye the most and he was drafted in the second round, 55th overall. The rookie will boost a line that will be led by Sophomores Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney.

Their two most impressive prospects however came in later picks. Pass-rusher BJ Thompson of Stephen F. Austin and Ball State Cornerback Nic Jones came in the fifth and seventh round respectively, though are no doubt great additions. Thompson’s testing numbers are superb— 4.4-second 40-yard dash, 40” vertical, 11’3” broad jump— and he looks to be a super dangerous presence in the backfield. Jones’ play reading paired with his athleticism give him all the tools to be a great zone corner and these two have boosted the Chiefs’ defense maybe more than many even realise.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the Chiefs biggest weaknesses last season was their pass defense. They were 18th in the league for passing yards per game and their draft strategy was clearly meant to plug this hole. All but two of their picks were defensive players and there will be hope that they can contribute well in their rookie seasons.

Their strength of course lies in their chunk play offensive strategy that has brought them so much success since the arrival of Mahomes. A rejuvenated receiving lineup along with the formidable Travis Kelce should see these good fortunes continue in the new season.

There is no reason to think that the Chiefs cannot go on and defend their crown in the 2023/24 season. Andy Reid began creating a dynasty level team in 2018 and with many of them still playing at the top of their game in Kansas City, it seems there is still more to come.