The Kansas City Chiefs seem poised for sustained and long-term success (or as much as any team can be) after winning their first Super Bowl in a half-century in only the third year of Patrick Mahomes' career. While the bill will come due in regards to Mahomes' contract and KC will no longer enjoy having the best player in the league making $4.1 million a year, the 2018 MVP is so transcendently great it doesn't seem like it'll matter. The only obstacle between the Chiefs and regular championship contention is injuries.
Does that mean they're the heir apparent to the New England Patriots dynasty that's on its last legs after Tom Brady departed for warmer climate? They seem like the natural choice, but sustained success over two decades is not exactly an easy or straightforward task. Kevin Wildes addressed the topic on First Things First Thursday morning, and had quite an analogy to describe the difference between the Chiefs right now and the Patriots of the 21st century.
As demonstrated by the graphics team, the first half of Wildes' point lines up. The reason the Patriots have been able to be so good for so long is that they're constantly adjusting to changes in the game. Early in the 2000s, ball control and defense won championships. As 2010 approached, it was easier for offenses to have success, so New England turned into one of the best offenses in the league. In the latter half of this past decade, they found more of a balance between an adequate defense and an elite offense. A chameleon is the best way to describe how Bill Belichick plans his games; he views the identity of the team as whatever they have to be for that week.
The second half of the comparison is a bit more confusing. As of right now, the Chiefs are indeed a Will Ferrell character. The changes from one game to the next are marginal and at their core they have one identity. Ricky Bobby and Ron Burgundy are two characters from different movies, but Ferrell's personality is so outsized that they come across as different versions of Ferrell rather than entirely different characters on their own. The Chiefs can put up points in bunches like against Houston in the AFC Divisional game, but they can also win games with some timely touchdowns like in the Super Bowl. They're an offensive force with an average defense. The way that manifests itself in a contest differs, but on a game-to-game basis, that's who they are.
But I would doubt anyone who watched the Patriots in 2004 would guess they'd break every offensive record in the book merely three years later. The Chiefs might be Will Ferrell right now, but it's impossible to predict how the team or the game of football will change over the course of a few seasons. With Andy Reid at the helm, Kansas City is optimizing the best way to play offense in today's NFL with a spread offense and a gunslinging quarterback, just as Belichick was optimizing the best way to play defense with physical corners and a monstrous defensive line back in 2001.
Thanks to the genius of their head coach, the Patriots can change who they are as a team on a week-to-week basis. The Chiefs can't do that right now, and maybe they never will. But nobody predicted the Patriots would change as drastically as they did. We know who the Chiefs are right now, but that could change in short order. The only constant will be Mahomes, and that puts them in a pretty good spot from the outset.