With a win on Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs can all but officially clinch the AFC West, putting them on the edge of incredible history.
A division-clinching win before Thanksgiving? Well, no, but close.
If the Kansas City Chiefs earn a season sweep of the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football, they’ll take a three-game divisional lead, with a tiebreaker, having only seven games to play.
Barring an all-time meltdown, the AFC West would be Kansas City’s once more.
The historical context of such a feat is absurd.
If the Chiefs win the West, it’ll be their seventh consecutive division title. The only teams to match such longevity are the 1973-79 Los Angeles Rams of the NFC West, and the New England Patriots who won 11 straight AFC East crowns from 2009-19.
While New England’s streak is clearly the all-time standard, Kansas City is authoring its case as one of the most domineering teams of the salary cap era.
No franchise had ever hosted four consecutive conference title games before the Chiefs did so last season. Currently, Patrick Mahomes and Co. are the AFC’s top seed once more, sitting at 7-2 with the second-easiest remaining schedule.
Of course, everything begins within the AFC West.
Since the division streak began in 2016, Kansas City has gone an unfathomable 33-5 facing the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos and Chargers, including a perfect record against Denver. Since Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback in ’18, the Chiefs haven’t lost a road divisional game.
This is largely attributable to head coach Andy Reid, who each spring and summer spends extra time working on installs specifically for division opponents. The extra work has paid off.
Still, the Chiefs have to finish off their latest potential crown. They’re two games ahead of the Chargers, and after beating them 27-24 in Week 2, have ensured at least a head-to-head split. Meanwhile, the Raiders and Broncos are non-factors, fighting for third place.
Looking at 538’s model, Kansas City has a 96 percent chance of winning the AFC West. If the Chiefs lose to the Chargers on Sunday, they still sit at 88 percent. However, their Super Bowl odds, which are presently at 21 percent — nobody else is above 12 percent — would jump four points, depending upon other results in Week 11.
In today’s warp-speed news cycle, accomplishments often get forgotten with every Twitter timeline refresh. The world moves on quicker than ever.
Yet should Kansas City beat Los Angeles this weekend, we should pause to realize what is happening.
The Chiefs have changed quarterbacks and general managers during this run. They dealt with a potential Hall of Fame signal-caller Philip Rivers for three seasons, and now face Justin Herbert in the same uniform. They fought off a reigning Super Bowl champion in ’16, and topped two 12-4 challengers.
Coming into 2022, the AFC West was supposed to be one of the greatest divisions ever. Three of the teams loaded up specifically to take down Kansas City, and each have flopped to varying degrees. The Chiefs remain the Chiefs in all forms.
Kansas City, which won seven division titles from the ’70 AFL-NFL merger until this current streak, is now verging on seven straight. In a league with a system built to tear down greatness and install parity across 32 teams, Kansas City has defied all obstacles.
The Chiefs won’t clinch the AFC West before Thanksgiving.
But with a win Sunday night, the AFC West will be all but cooked once more.