The Kansas City Chiefs are a Super Bowl favorite. Three months ago, it seemed they would be luck to reach the postseason amidst Patrick Mahomes’ injury.
“F**k.” – Every Chiefs fan alive.
The scene: Thursday Night Football. Week 7. Mile High. The Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos.
Patrick Mahomes sneaks on 4th and 1. He’s down, helmetless, hands over face. The Chiefs medical staff rushing towards him. Mahomes’ kneecap was grotesquely out of place, laying on the outside of his leg.
For all the world, his season looked over. The Chiefs, a preseason Super Bowl favorite, were dead.
Then, incredibly, they were spared.
Miraculously, Mahomes didn’t tear any ligaments. Stretched, yes, but no tear meant a dislocated kneecap and nothing else. The MVP only missed two games, games the Chiefs managed to split against the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
Since Mahomes’ return, the Chiefs are 6-1 and AFC West champs for a fourth consecutive year. They earned the AFC’s No. 2 seed on the regular season’s final Sunday, and now ready themselves for a date with the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional round.
Three months ago with Mahomes on the turf, such a scenario felt impossible.
Kansas City has typically been a franchise long on heartbreak. In 1993, Joe Montana drove the Chiefs to their first conference title game since 1969. He left in the third quarter with a concussion. In 1995 and ’97, Kansas City was the AFC’s top seed and didn’t win a playoff game.
Last year, Charvarius Ward intercepted Tom Brady to seal the Chiefs’ first Super Sunday appearance in 49 years. The play was nullified due to Dee Ford being in the neutral zone.
So the notion of Mahomes, the best thing to happen to the Chiefs since Super Bowl IV, would catch a break seemed incredibly unlikely.
Yet, here we are.
The Chiefs were granted the rarest of sporting opportunities this season. A second chance. After briefly being pronounced dead by the millions tuning into the game that October night, Kansas City is now only trailing the Baltimore Ravens in most Vegas books as the Super Bowl pick. Should the Chiefs beat the Texans on Sunday, they’ll be back in the AFC Championship Game, looking to redeem themselves and finally raise the trophy bearing the name of their founder.
Should Kansas City finally taste elusive glory come February, there will be myriad reasons. The defense improving at a remarkable rate since Thanksgiving. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill being an absurd tandem. Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark rebuilding the defensive culture. Andy Reid’s offensive genius.
All of those reasons and factors will be valid.
None will be bigger than a fortunate twist of fate in Denver, when the dream appeared dead.