Chiefs Miss Playoffs In 2023? Why It’s Not As Crazy As It Sounds

Hear us out on this one


Aug 24, 2023

Look, the Kansas City Chiefs almost certainly will make the playoffs when the 2023 NFL regular season wraps up, but it might not be the sure thing we’ve become accustomed to seeing.

The defending Super Bowl champions are trying to solidify a budding dynasty and becoming the first team in 20 years to repeat would certainly put them in that rarefied air. Perhaps they do get there, and this conversation seems silly in hindsight as February rolls around.

However, it wouldn’t be surprising to see KC scuffle a bit in 2023, especially compared to past seasons.

Chiefs 2023 futures
To win Super Bowl: +600
To win conference: +350
Win total: 11.5 (over -134)

(Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook)

The biggest reason 2023 could be a slog for the Chiefs is the schedule. As Sharp Football Analysis noted, Kansas City has one of the most difficult schedules in the NFL this season. That’s a sharp departure from last season when the Chiefs went 13-4 against one of the softest slates. In fact, no team will see a bigger year-over-year increase in difficulty than Andy Reid’s bunch.

The AFC West should be one of the most competitive divisions in football. It’s possible we’re talking about Justin Herbert as the best quarterback in the NFL not named Patrick Mahomes by season’s end, and the Chargers present a legitimate threat to KC in the West. But the Broncos should be better — they can’t get any worse — after quickly pivoting to Sean Payton, an established head coach who should make them at least three or four games better right away. The Raiders don’t have high expectations, but Jimmy Garoppolo just wins, so maybe Vegas sneaks up on some people.

That’s not to mention a handful of games against other AFC title hopefuls like Cincinnati, Buffalo and the Jets. Those teams should all be fighting not just for playoff spots but the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Chiefs’ path to the top seed, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout doesn’t look nearly as clear as it did a year ago.

And that’s all assuming the Chiefs themselves perform to the level we saw a year ago. That’s no guarantee. Kansas City saw a good deal of turnover in the offseason. Offensive tackle Orlando Brown bolted for the Bengals, while wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman are gone. In their places are relatively unproven youngsters, who could be good — especially in this offensive system — but have question marks. It’s also possible the loss of Eric Bieniemy, who left KC to take the same offensive coordinator position in Washington, is considerable.

Defensively, the Chiefs are at best a perennial middle-of-the-pack unit. The absence of Chris Jones, who could hold out until Week 8, can’t be overstated. He is their best defensive player by far and an anchor in the middle of Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

Sportsbooks and bettors alike apparently aren’t expecting any sort of dropoff. The Chiefs have the highest win total at 11.5 juiced to the over, and they are a ridiculous -420 to win 10-plus regular-season games.

As mentioned on this week’s season preview episode of “The Spread” podcast, one way to potentially fade the Chiefs is to bet an alternative win total. You could get KC at +175 to win fewer than 10.5 games, a wager that still leaves the door open for a very good 10-win season. The boldest among us might instead opt for a +360 bet for them to miss the playoffs.

Bombastic headline aside, it would be surprising to see the Chiefs actually miss the playoffs. But even if you think they can go win it all again, there might be value in fading a team that cares a lot more about winning games in January and February than it should in September and October.

Thumbnail photo via Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports Images

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