We’ve been here before, Kansas City. Four previous times, in fact. Your Chiefs are the only NFL team left without a loss at 4-0, and things are looking pretty, pretty good. But, as buzzkill Adam Schefter reminds you, sadness lingers around every corner:
For fifth time in Super-Bowl era, Chiefs are last unbeaten team of the season. In four previous instances, they did not win a playoff game.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 5, 2017
Let’s travel back, shall we?
In Andy Reid’s first season, Kansas City rebounded from a dismal two-win season in 2012 to win its first nine games. But the record masked a tissue-soft schedule (only one of the teams the Chiefs beat over their nine-game run ended up making the playoffs) and things started to snowball immediately after the bye week. Kansas City went 2-5 after its week off, with the wins coming against bad teams (the Raiders and Redskins) and each loss coming against teams that would end up making the playoffs. Speaking of the postseason, the Chiefs took a 38-10 lead in the third quarter of their wild-card matchup against the Colts. They lost, 45-44, with Indy becoming just the second team in NFL history to come back from a deficit of 28 or more points and win a playoff game.
Another big turnaround, as the Chiefs rebounded from a 4-12 season to win their first three games (once again against teams that would not make the playoffs) in their second season under Todd Haley. A 2-4 skid followed, but Kansas City appeared to right things with a 5-2 run to end the season and win the AFC West for the first time in seven years. But the Chiefs could only manage a measly touchdown at home in the playoffs against the fifth-seeded Ravens and lost, 30-7.
Led by Trent Green (who threw for more than 4,000 yards) and Priest Holmes (who broke Marshall Faulk’s single-season rushing touchdown record with 27), Kansas City won its first nine games of the season, scoring at least 38 points in five of those wins. But the Chiefs’ defense couldn’t keep up: Only three teams that season gave up more yards. The playoff game that year against the Peyton Manning-led Colts would be a shootout, as expected, with neither team punting for just the second time in playoff history. But Indy jumped out to a 21-10 halftime lead and held on for a 38-31 win.
Picked to win the Super Bowl by Sports Illustrated, the Marty Schottenheimer-led Chiefs didn’t stumble until a Week 5 loss to the Chargers and were 8-3 after 11 games. But Kansas City finished the season 1-5, and a 20-9 loss to the Bills in the regular season finale — a game in which Kansas City led 9-3 midway through the third quarter — ended their hopes of a playoff berth.
If there’s any comfort to the Chiefs, it is this: The last remaining unbeaten team has not won a Super Bowl since the 2006 Colts, so they’re not necessarily alone in their misery, acute as it may be.
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