Tom Brew at the Super Bowl: Chiefs Still AFC's Best Since Midseason Collapse Didn't Last

The Kansas City Chiefs were in a big funk for nearly two months earlier this year, but they righted the ship behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes and are playing in their fourth Super Bowl in five years on Sunday. End of a dynasty in November? Not so fast, my friends. My column.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The Kansas City Chiefs have been the best team in football the past five years, and they've got the shiny hardware to prove it. They've won two Super Bowls, lost another and go for a third on Sunday here in Las Vegas when they take on the San Francisco 49ers.  

Strangely, a lot of people didn't see this coming because the Chiefs were, shall we say, kind of crappy for a two-month stretch this season. From Oct. 29 to Christmas Day, the were just 3-5 and it looked like the dynasty-in-making might be over.

Heck, in that time even the not-very-good Tennessee Titans went 3-5, too. That's how bad the Chiefs looked. It was easy to give up on them.

And a lot of people did.

But here they are. The experts said the Chiefs couldn't win a playoff game on the road, but they went into Buffalo and knocked off the great Josh Allen. Then they went into Baltimore and knocked off the No 1 seed in the AFC, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Jackson was the league MVP.

So here they are, right where they belong. They're playing for another Super Bowl title as quarterback Patrick Mahomes chases greatness.

We shouldn't be surprised, right? But if you watched them during that 3-5 run, how could you not?

They were a flawed team, especially offensively. Mahomes just didn't have enough weapons on the outside, and it was costing them games.

Thankfully, they have a great defense that has a say in the outcomes of games, too. The Chiefs also started getting more out running back Isiah Pacheco, and more out of the receivers — especially rookie Rashee Rice, who's grown up quickly right before our very eyes.

Rice had 36 catches in his first 10 games, and a whopping 63 in his last 10. Thaat's a weapon now. 

"He has a  ton of talent, and I saw that from day one," Mahomes said earlier this week. "But with rookies, especially in Coach Reid's offense, it takes time. It takes time to learn the different ways we run routes and the way you have to read coverage at the same time. He's just continued to get better and better. 

"That's why I think you saw his production really get an uptick as the year went on, and I still think he has a long way to go. He can continue to get better and better, and he can be one of the top receivers in this league." 

That says a lot about the great Mahomes, who never panicked. He gave Rice time to grow too, and he has full faith and confidence in his now. It's true of all of  

And here he is — again. 

Never imagined Chiefs losing six

Going undefeated in the NFL is unrealistic, but Patrick Mahomes never expects to lose a game. He feels like he can always find a way. And I tend to agree with him.

I could have never imagined six teams beating him this year.

I do a fun little exercise before the start of every football and baseball season. I call it "3 Up/3 Down,'' where I take the projected win totals for every team and pick three teams I think will go over, and three that will go under. I don't gamble, so it's just for entertaining. 

Kansas City's over/under total in the preseason was 11.5, and I took the over for that same exact reason I mentioned above. I couldn't see six teams beating the Chiefs. Five max.

Turned out I was wrong by a game. Missed my other two overs — Jacksonville and New Orleans, my picks to win bad divisions — by a half-game, too. I said Kansas City (11.5), Jacksonville (9.5) and New Orleans (9.5) would all go over and, of course, they won 11, 9 and 9 respectively. 

That's why I don't gamble. Those were all good choices — right up until they weren't on the last few weeks of the season. And, to be fair, I got two right by a half-game, too. I had Arizona under 4.5 and Denver under 8.5, and they won 4 and 8 respectively. They only team I really missed on was the Indianapolis Colts, who won nine games when the line was just 6.5. (Quick pat on the back: I was 5-1 with my 2023 baseball picks!)

The point here is that I could never see six teams beating the Chiefs this season. As long as Andy Reid is the coach, Patrick Mahomes is the quarterback and Travis Kelce is the tight end, I'll always believe that. 

The Chiefs were underdogs against the Bills and Ravens in the playoffs, but it didn't really matter. They won anyway. But they were deserving underdogs, because those teams — especially at home — are really good. And it was hard to erase that mid-season swoon completely. 

And here we are now in Sin City, ready for Las Vegas' first-ever Super Bowl. The 49ers, the top seed from the NFC, are a modest favorite. The line is 1.5 right now according to the SISportsbook gambling website. 

The 49ers are legit, and it probably makes sense that they are the favorites. But this isn't any different from those other two playoff games on the road in Buffalo and Baltimore, right? 

Can you really bet against Patrick Mahomes? 

A favorite for a while now

I've known all about Patrick Mahomes since his college playing days at Texas Tech. I knew of his dad from my early baseball days, so the name caught me early. I loved watching his high-powered Texas Tech teams play and — despite a lot of NFL ''draft experts'' who thought otherwise, I thought he was going to be a great pro.

The year he was coming out, the Chicago Bears — the team I grew up rooting for, through a lot of bad football — had the third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. They needed a quarterback badly — it's a franchise tradition — and I remember driving down the road and and hearing on the radio that the Bears had traded with San Francisco to move up to the No. 2 spot.

Great, I thought. They're doing what they can to draft Mahomes and solve a century of quarterback problems. Myles Garrett — who won defensive player of the year honors here on Friday night — was the clear-cut No. 1 pick to Cleveland, being a generational talent and all.

The Bears surely couldn't screw this up, of course. But they did. Instead of taking Mahomes, they took Mitch Trubisky out of North Carolina, a massive bust. The Bears has stunk ever since that night, and Mahomes is now at his fourth Super Bowl,.

Some revisionist history there would be wonderful.

The Bears aren't alone in missing the boat, of course. The 49ers could have taken him instead of shuffling from Colin Kaepernick to Jimmy Garoppolo that season. They took defensive lineman Solomon Thomas instead at No. 3, and he had a below afverage NFL career.

The Buffalo Bills, who had the 10th pick, traded DOWN with the Chiefs so they could draft Mahomes. They picked No. 27, and took a cornerback, Tre'Davious White, who's been a good player, but no Mahomes. They had to draft Josh Allen year later.

The other teams who passed on Mahomes dealt with quarterback issues for years too. The Jaguars (No. 4), Titans (No. 5), Jets (No. 6), Chargers (No. 7), Panthers (No. 8) and Bengals (No. 9) could have all fixed their issues in 2017. 

They've all taken high first-round quarterbacks since outside of the Titans, who feel like they at least finally have their man now with second-round pick Will Levis. But they took wide receiver Corey Davis at No. 5 instead of Mahomes. Can you imagine how difference that Titans franchise would have been if they took Mahomes?

So we'll get to Sunday and I'm looking forward to Mahomes play in another Super Bowl, and go for his third ring. It's a great matchup, and it should be an epic Super Bowl LVIII. The midseason swoon? It's such a thing of the past.

Related Super Bowl stories

  • POINT SPREAD: We've got a great matchup for Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas on Sunday, with the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the San Francisco 49ers. Here's the latest on the point spread, plus a great history of both teams vs. the number this season. There are some obvious trends that are jumping out on game day. CLICK HERE
  • TRAVIS KELCE ON DYNASTY: Legendary Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce met with the media this week and talked about trying to chase down the New England Patriots as the NFL's most recent dynasty. CLICK HERE
  • WARD ON REID, SHANAHAN: The only player on the 49ers who has played for both Kyle Shanahan and Andy Reid is Charvarius Ward. He was with the Chiefs when they beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl four years ago, so he's the best person to compare the two coaches. CLICK HERE

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