The truth that fans of the Steelers and other AFC teams must now face

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Michael Owens/GettyImages

A couple of weeks ago, I made the argument for why Steelers fans should root for the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl LVIII despite objectively being the lesser of two evils when compared to the opposing Kansas City Chiefs. However, as I watched the big game, I couldn’t help but notice that I was heavily rooting for the Niners myself.

My reasoning for doing so was the same as anybody else’s. For starters, I was as sick of the Taylor Swift coverage as the next guy, and while I felt that social media outlets would have found ways to push her regardless of the game’s outcome (a take that hasn’t changed in the slightest), I still wanted to see as little of it as possible, and that would have obviously been the case only with a KC loss.

The second reason played into me simply wanting the game to be as good/unpredictable as any neutral-party fan would want, yet no one in the NFL community (whether it be through official or social media) painted it out as if it would be.

The bulk of television personalities took the Chiefs to win the game while 99% of viewers were on Instagram hoping that Brock Purdy and San Francisco would beat them, not actually believing they would. When wanting their battle to be the toss-up that the 1.5-point spread implied it’d be, that behavior undoubtedly soiled my vibe.

But alas, Kansas City did find a way to prevail, and even though Super Bowl LVIII answered my second prayer by easily being one of both the most competitive and suspenseful Super Bowls of all time, the same cannot be said for my first, as the Swiftie-riddled Chiefs hype train remains firmly on its rails.

In fact, that’s what brings me to my main point of today: If you are one of the millions that are shaken to their cores over KC’s continued success, I’ve got some very blunt, yet necessary, news for you—the Chiefs likely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

At first glance, that may seem like a bit of a nothing burger; this is the third Super Bowl win of four appearances in just a five-year span for the Chiefs, so of course they’re the guys to beat until further notice. But, while that may be a no-brainer now, many were hesitant to commit to that stance in the weeks leading up to last Sunday.

The denial around KC was visible back when the playoffs first began

We got our first true taste of America’s refusal to accept Kansas City’s greatness once the NFL playoffs were set. Being a three-seed whose regular season could have certainly been more impressive, the Chiefs were in no way favorites to win the AFC, much less the Super Bowl. This was especially due to the presence of the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens, who were both seeded higher and had superior quarterback play.

Then, to go along with the misguided passing up of the Chiefs, we saw headlines questioning if they were worthy of “dynasty” status and if not, whether winning Super Bowl LVIII would change that. While this could be disregarded as simply some discussion topic aimed to create some engagement, it could also be interpreted as downplaying just how dominant KC has been.

Think about it, from the 2018-19 season to now, the Chiefs have: Lost the AFC Championship in overtime, won Super Bowl LIV, lost Super Bowl LV, lost the AFC Championship in overtime, won Super Bowl LVII, and at this point, just made Super Bowl LVIII. At the absolute least, that stretch makes them both the rulers of their conference and the safest bets to play for/win a Lombardi in the entire league.

With that in mind, combatting the idea of them deserving the “dynasty” title surely comes off as disrespectful, and the offensiveness was only inflamed by them going on to win LVIII.

But what’s the point of walking us through all of this?

Okay, so when are we going to get to this huge revelation about the Chiefs? We already know that they’ve been tough, are tough, and will likely continue to be tough. What is it about this “underdog story” that’s supposed to make this season stand out?

Well in short, it’s not the fact that KC continues to dominate in spite of being slightly slept on; rather, it’s the fact that it does so despite this season providing every good reason in the book for them to be slept on, as it was undoubtedly the toughest that the team’s encountered in the Patrick Mahomes era. And if you glossed over my aforementioned factors that played into how you merely didn't know just how serious they were—so let’s take a closer look.

Starting with the regular season, Kansas City entered the playoffs with a record of 11-6, which would be quite solid for most teams, but the Chiefs are not most teams. For them, it was their worst regular-season finish since 2017, before Mahomes and Co. had ever won anything.

Meanwhile, challengers Buffalo and Baltimore didn’t just have better seasons than KC, but headed into the bracket on healthier notes than everybody else, with the Bills having won five straight and the Ravens six (before their Week 18 loss to the Steelers, where they had pulled starters).

The former streak included wins over the Chiefs themselves and a blowout one over Dallas, and the latter included silencing wins over Miami and San Francisco, helping Baltimore wrap up its regular season with the league’s best record (13-4).

Also, marching to the beat of a similar drum, we have the QB comparison. Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were not only superior to Mahomes but to all other players in the league, with Allen placing second in MVP voting (albeit with a single vote) as Jackson took the honor for the second time in his career.

But wait, the poor circumstances didn’t just end at an underwhelming record and a couple of scarier faces sharing AFC territory, they made matters much worse when they combined, resulting in Patrick Mahomes—a man who had then never played a playoff game outside of Arrowhead Stadium—having to face both Buffalo and Baltimore on the road in back-to-back weeks.

Kansas City had all of this stacked against it, amounting to a postseason journey that had no business unfolding in its favor and still won the Super Bowl. If they can pull that off at their “worst” while their AFC foes are at their best, it illustrates just how firm of a grasp they have on their conference and, at least as of the last two years, the NFL as a whole.

If you ask me, it’s not the domination itself that makes them most comparable to yesterday’s New England Patriots, nor is it the iconic QB-TE connection. It’s that.

Next. 10 upcoming free agent with obvious ties to the Steelers. 10 upcoming free agent with obvious ties to the Steelers. dark

Things can certainly change, whether it be via personnel (such as the recent discussions around when Andy Reid will retire), or bigger threats joining the contender pool (such as the Bengals with a healthy Joe Burrow or some NFC powerhouse). But, until we see anything of those sorts, the future of the NFL appears to run through Kansas City, and this season sent that message about as sternly as one could.