Can The Chiefs Avoid The Super Bowl Curse?

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While all curses have the potential to be broken, that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. Instead, curses often function as self-fulfilling prophecies, where the fear of the curse often leads to the actualization of it. Such awareness of the curse only fuels it, this abstract dread then manifesting itself in statistical reality. The Kansas City Chiefs are 3-4 and tied for last place in the AFC West, plagued by the “Super Bowl” curse, a decades-long trend that has witnessed the loser from the previous Super Bowl fail to meet expectations the following season. 

According to FiveThirtyEight, Super Bowl losers have historically seen their winning percentage drop from 77% to 63% during the following season; unless the Chiefs finish the season on a ten-game winning streak, they’ll fall short of their 12-4 record last season. When examining the records of both AFC and NFC champions who lost the previous Super Bowl, 86 percent of these teams didn’t even return to the conference championship. And if that doesn’t catch your attention, then consider this. 

Since the 1993 Buffalo Bills, only one team has returned to the Super Bowl after losing it the previous year; in 2018, the New England Patriots not only made it back to the Super Bowl, but they avenged their loss by winning the championship. 

But, let’s be positive here. Despite their record and stretches of inconsistent play, the Chiefs are still in a better spot than the majority of Super Bowl losers—you have the privilege to remain optimistic when you’re playing in a conference where the best team is either young (Cincinnati Bengals) or relatively unproven (Tennessee Titans). Regardless of how many teams are in front of the Chiefs, it’s impossible to count out Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City teammates. The 5-2 Baltimore Ravens could easily be 2-5 if it weren’t for a few fourth-quarter collapses by their opponents; the Buffalo Bills aren’t overwhelming anybody (yet). Then, examine the AFC West and ask yourself these questions. 

Do you believe in the Las Vegas Raiders? Do you believe in the Los Angeles Chargers? While credit has to be given for the Bolts’ performance thus far, there’s still hesitation to label them a shoo-in as divisional champion despite the Chiefs providing us with stunningly bad by their standard performances. All is not lost with the reigning AFC champion, especially when it relates to this last point: Talent. 

Kansas City still has football’s best quarterback, former league MVP Patrick Mahomes, and two elite pass-catchers in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, who have combined for nine All-Pro berths. Despite their obvious and potentially-crippling defensive struggles, they still boast game-changing, All-Pro-caliber playmakers like safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive lineman Chris Jones who could help the team right the ship. 

What the Chiefs have to realize is this: they don’t have to be perfect in order to make it back to the Super Bowl. But a higher level of execution and awareness is required in order to make this attempt realistic. In sports, numbers are descriptive as much as they are predictive: they ultimately tell a story, but don’t seal your fate, whether it’s for good or worse.

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