With one game left in the season for the Kansas City Chiefs, this might be a good time to look at what was supposed to be the best season of Chiefs football ever.
Given the hype around training camp and the MVP reign of Patrick Mahomes showing no signs of slowing down, the majority of us bought into the idea that this was the season the Lombardi and Hunt trophies found a new home at Arrowhead Stadium.
Those things can certainly still happen, but this has been far from the season we dreamed about in the summer. Mahomes has suffered three seasons worth of injuries and scares this season, something he hardly ever dealt with last season. Tyreek Hill missed four games this season after playing in all 16 last year. No running back on the roster will have appeared in every game this season.
Mitchell Schwartz and Austin Reiter mark the only two offensive linemen that will play in every game this season, a difference from a season ago when Eric Fisher and Andrew Wylie avoided injury.
For an offense that remained largely the same other than the additions of LeSean McCoy and Mecole Hardman, there was a noticeable decline as they struggled to find a constant groove with different players missing each week.
On the other side of the ball, the injuries have been plenty but the scheme often covers up the fact that two pass rushers in Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor are gone for the season. Frank Clark has endured a season from hell dealing with a pinched nerve that caused incredible discomfort while he was still playing and a stomach issue requiring stays in the hospital. Even Chris Jones, who has earned a new contract, has missed three games this season.
Beyond injuries, the most glaring and disappointing moment of the season was the loss at Tennessee. It is clear that winning that game would have made a world of difference in where the divisional and conference round games would have been played at.
With one game left against the Chargers and a long shot at the two-seed in the AFC playoffs, I am not expecting to see much this weekend. The more realistic playoff positioning is the third seed, achieved by simply beating a Chargers team that seems indifferent about their situation. A loss drops the Chiefs to the fourth seed and brings a potential second-round matchup with Baltimore sooner than the path of the third seed.
The starters will be playing though some might sit anyway as I expect Andy Reid to attempt to do the bare minimum he needs to win the game. If that means building an early lead and pulling Mahomes at halftime, I am all for it.
I could go on forever about how this season is better in many ways than the perfect one we dreamed of, most notably because this team has found a clear identity on both sides of the ball and embraced it. It was forming on offense last season and has really flourished while the defense used the additions of Clark and Tyrann Mathieu to set a tone for what they wanted to become.
In a league and society where results rule, it has been a treat to see these guys come together and continue building what we hope becomes a dynasty.
Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at email@example.com