Kansas City Chiefs Road to Super Bowl LVII: Can Patrick Mahomes Make it Happen?

profile image of scottkacsmar
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs holds up the Lamar Hunt Trophy after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in the AFC Championship Game. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

The Kansas City Chiefs look to win their second Super Bowl in four seasons against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. The Chiefs are making their third appearance in the big game in the last four years with one win and one loss so far.

From a shocking trade to still having the NFL’s best offense, the Chiefs took an 0-2 record against chief rivals from Buffalo and Cincinnati, but they still finished 14-3 to claim the No. 1 seed and finally got a win over the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

But the job is not finished for Patrick Mahomes as he looks to become the first player since Kurt Warner in 1999 to win MVP and the Super Bowl in the same season by doing it against the No. 1 pass defense of the Eagles.

Let’s look back at the road to Super Bowl LVII taken by these Chiefs (16-3). And if you’re a Missourian eager to make your betting picks for this game, make sure to go over our guide on the best Missouri betting sites!

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, February 12, 2023 – 06:30 PM EST at State Farm Stadium

The Preseason Story

If you were making a highlight reel for the past four seasons for the Chiefs, so many of the big moments for the offense would be Mahomes finding Tyreek Hill with big plays in crunch time. None more obvious than the “Jet Chip Wasp” on third-and-15 in the Super Bowl, but he also was on the receiving end of the fourth-down play against the Ravens in 2018, the long touchdown against Buffalo in the 42-36 playoff game, and long catches against the Chargers in other comeback wins for the Chiefs.

Travis Kelce is still great, but Hill was usually the go-to guy in the big moments. So, it was shocking when the Chiefs traded him to Miami in March. How would the offense look with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and rookie Skyy Moore making up the new wide receiver corps alongside Mecole Hardman? There is no true No. 1 in that group.

So, there were expectations that the Chiefs would take a step back on offense, and with the AFC West loading up for a big battle, the Chiefs were not a lock to win the division anymore.

Of course, the offense finished No. 1 in most categories and was better than it was in 2021 with Hill, and the AFC West was a total dud that the Chiefs locked up by Week 15, becoming the third team in NFL history to win at least seven straight divisions.

Week 1 vs. Arizona (W 44-21)

This game was in Arizona where the Super Bowl will be played, and if the Chiefs look anywhere near as good offensively as they did in Week 1, it will be quite the show.

But the Cardinals almost seemed like they never watched Mahomes play before, because they blitzed him relentlessly in this game. He responded with 360 yards and five touchdowns. Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco also scored his first touchdown late in the game, but he would take on a bigger role later in the year.

Week 2 vs. Los Angeles Chargers (W 27-24)

Tyreek or not, the Chargers usually play the Chiefs very tough. The Chiefs needed to rally from a 17-7 deficit in the second half, and with the game tied, one of the biggest sequences of this whole 2022 NFL season unfolded.

The Chargers were driving after a couple catches to tight end Gerald Everett, who motioned to the sideline to come out because he was tired. But they denied him, he was the target on a third-straight play, and he could barely run a route due to fatigue before rookie Jaylen Watson jumped the pass for a 99-yard touchdown to give the Chiefs their first lead of the game. They hung on for the win after Justin Herbert injured his ribs too.

Week 3 vs. Indianapolis (L 20-17)

What is it about the Colts against Mahomes? They also beat him 19-13 in 2019, and this game was the only time all season the Chiefs would score under 20 points after a calamity of errors on special teams. The defense also surrendered a long game-winning touchdown drive that was aided by a personal foul on Chris Jones for saying a naughty word near a ref.

Mahomes is 45-2 when opponents score under 24 points, but both losses were to the Colts. Mahomes has lost 19 games and the Colts were the only team to beat him (twice) without gaining at least 340 yards of offense. The Colts are also the only team to beat Mahomes without winning more than seven games in a season (twice).

Weird things happen when these teams meet.

Week 4 vs. Tampa Bay (W 41-31)

In the first rematch of Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs looked like they were out for revenge, holding a double-digit lead for the final 49 minutes.

You rarely see a team take it to a team with Tom Brady like this, but the Chiefs were excellent on offense with Mahomes making highlight-worthy plays on his way to three more touchdown passes. The Buccaneers ran the ball 6 times for 3 yards.

Week 5 vs. Las Vegas (W 30-29)

In maybe the most dramatic Monday night game of the season, the Chiefs came out flat and trailed 17-0 at home to the rival Raiders.

Things changed in the second quarter when Chris Jones was flagged for roughing the passer despite what looked like a clean sack all the way. The reaction by the crowd and players was so negative and emotional that it seemed to spark the comeback by itself.

The Chiefs stormed back to take a lead into the fourth quarter after Travis Kelce caught four touchdowns on the same little route despite finishing the game with just 25 receiving yards. The Chiefs held on for the 30-29 win after Derek Carr was unable to connect with Davante Adams to put the Raiders in game-winning field goal range.

Week 6 vs. Buffalo (L 24-20)

The rematch of 42-36 from last year’s playoffs was one of the most anticipated regular-season games in years. Oddly enough, it started with each team making a red-zone turnover, which had not happened in any NFL game in over 20 years.

Both quarterbacks were sharp with over 300 yards, but Josh Allen got the last laugh this time with a game-winning touchdown, and Mahomes threw a game-ending interception as he tried to go to Skyy Moore. Von Miller also had a huge impact on the game for Buffalo, which is exactly why they brought him in this year.

This 24-20 loss is the only time in Mahomes’ career that he did not cover the spread (+2.5) as an underdog. He is 7-1-1 ATS and 6-3 ATS as an underdog at the NFL odds boards and this was the only time he lost as a home underdog.

At that point, it did not seem likely that the Chiefs would get the No. 1 seed or Mahomes would win MVP, but it is a long season and things happen. Buffalo may have peaked again after beating the Chiefs in Week 6.

Week 7 vs. San Francisco (W 44-23)

For a weird stat, the Chiefs scored 30 points eight times this year and seven of those games were on the road. Mahomes has actually been better statistically on the road in his career, and this was one of his finest games as he shredded the No. 1 defense for 423 yards and 44 points.

JuJu Smith-Schuster had his best game with 124 yards and a touchdown. Valdes-Scantling also went over 100 yards, and by this point, no one was thinking about Tyreek Hill anymore as the Chiefs headed into the bye with a 5-2 record.

Week 9 vs. Tennessee (W 20-17 OT)

In a Sunday night game against the Titans, the Chiefs were a two-touchdown favorite as Tennessee had to start rookie quarterback Malik Willis. But they still had Derrick Henry and were a gritty team, so naturally, it was a dogfight.

Mahomes ended up with a career-high 78 dropbacks and led the team with 63 rushing yards and another highlight-worthy touchdown run as his mobility was a huge part of the comeback. He also threw for 446 yards and put the team ahead in overtime before the defense clinched the win by shutting down Willis, who led the offense to one first down on its final 10 possessions.

Week 10 vs. Jacksonville (W 27-17)

The Chiefs lost the turnover battle 3-0 but still won this game by double digits, the only team in the NFL to do that this year. Kansas City led 20-0 in the first half and the run defense stepped up to shut down Travis Etienne, who was on a hot streak.

Andy Reid improved to 2-0 against former assistant Doug Pederson, but the two would meet again in the playoffs as the Jaguars got better after this game.

Week 11 vs. Los Angeles Chargers (W 30-27)

The pick-six in Week 2 was such a significant play in this season, and the rematch would also largely decide everything from the AFC West to MVP to the No. 1 seed for these Chiefs.

Mahomes and Kelce were stellar with three more touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter. Kelce escaped for the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds left and Herbert was intercepted in desperation to end the game and seal the sweep for the Chiefs.

Week 12 vs. Los Angeles Rams (W 26-10)

The Rams were missing Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, among other players, so this first rematch of the 54-51 shootout from 2018 left a lot to be desired.

The Chiefs allowed a season-low 10 points as the Rams started Bryce Perkins at quarterback. The offense was not sharp in the red zone at all, but they still found a way to cover the 15.5-point spread that day.

Week 13 vs. Cincinnati (L 27-24)

For the third time in the calendar year 2022, the Chiefs lost by 3 points to the Bengals. But this was the first time where it felt like the Bengals were controlling the flow of the game instead of needing a double-digit comeback.

Joe Burrow played a very sharp game, but the Chiefs were still leading going into the fourth quarter after a great touchdown run by Mahomes where he stretched the ball out on fourth down.

But in the fourth quarter, Kelce lost a fumble at midfield and Mahomes took a third-down sack that led to a missed 55-yard field goal. The Bengals ran out the clock on the Chiefs to get the win. The Bengals made Mahomes hold the ball for over 3.2 seconds per pass, his highest game in the last two seasons. That would have to change in the rematch.

Week 14 vs. Denver (W 34-28)

This was an odd game as Kansas City led 27-0 before Russell Wilson played his most spirited game of the season and nearly led the Broncos back with Jerry Jeudy catching three touchdowns. Mahomes tied his career high with three interceptions, but he still had 352 yards and three touchdowns too.

But it came down to the defense intercepting backup Brett Rypien after Wilson was concussed. The Chiefs ran out the final 4:21 on the clock and escaped with the win instead of blowing a 27-point lead to the No. 32 scoring offense.

But between the Cincinnati loss and turnovers in this game, Mahomes lost his lead in the MVP run to a surging Jalen Hurts from Philadelphia.

Week 15 vs. Houston (W 30-24 OT)

Even though the Chiefs almost had 300 more yards than Houston, this was a tough game that required a fourth-quarter comeback and overtime. Mahomes completed 20 straight passes at one point, and he finished 36-of-41, the highest completion percentage in NFL history for a game with 40 pass attempts.

But after Harrison Butker missed a 51-yard game-winning field goal, the game went to overtime where the Chiefs were stopped on the opening drive. The defense had the offense’s back as Frank Clark forced a scrambling Davis Mills to fumble deep in his own end.

One play later, Jerick McKinnon took off for a 26-yard touchdown run to win the game. The Chiefs were a 14.5-point favorite, but the Texans were playing competitive football at the time and nearly upset 17-point favorite Dallas the week before.

Week 16 vs. Seattle (W 24-10)

It was 12 degrees in this game, and the Chiefs finished with a season-low 297 yards of offense.

It did not even look like Mahomes would hit 200 passing yards until a couple big completions to Kelce late in the game to wrap things up on what was a great day for the defense. They shut down Geno Smith and the passing game in a fairly undramatic 24-10 finish.

Week 17 vs. Denver (W 27-24)

The Broncos played Kansas City tough twice this year, and it took another fourth-quarter comeback to put this one away for Kansas City’s 15th-straight win over Denver.

Wilson had a chance to be the hero again, but Chris Jones sacked him on fourth down with 1:19 left.

Week 18 vs. Las Vegas (W 31-13)

The Chiefs made short work of the Raiders in the final game of the regular season. Jerick McKinnon caught a touchdown for the sixth game in a row, the longest streak ever for a running back. The Chiefs never trailed and won by 18 points on the road for the third time this season.

The Chiefs finished 14-3 and were the No. 1 seed. They were not guaranteed a home game in the AFC Championship Game in case Buffalo was involved, because the Bills-Bengals game was canceled in Week 17 after Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest. If the Bills won that game to finish 14-3, they could have been the No. 1 seed instead of the Chiefs, so that is why a Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship Game would have been played at a neutral field in Atlanta.

But based on the way the Bills played the Bengals in the playoffs, they may not have won that game and the Chiefs may have finished No. 1 anyway despite losing to No. 2 and No. 3. Since 2002, only the 2012 Broncos and 2022 Chiefs have earned a No. 1 seed after losing to No. 2 and No. 3 in the regular season.

A Championship-Worthy Offense

Even without Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs finished No. 1 in points, yards, first downs, passing yards, passing touchdowns, and Mahomes was No. 1 in QBR. Offensively, the Chiefs were also No. 2 on both third down and in the red zone.

The offense is still championship-caliber. The defense? We’ll see. But the 2022 Chiefs are the ninth team since 1978 to hold a fourth-quarter lead in every game of the regular season. When people talk about teams that came close to going undefeated, this team deserves a mention after blowing late leads to the Colts and Bills and fumbling with the lead at midfield against the Bengals.

Divisional Round vs. Jacksonville (W 27-20)

Mahomes seemed to have brought his A-game for this one with a dazzling opening touchdown drive that showed off his full abilities, especially with his mobility and different throwing angles.

The Jaguars answered with a touchdown, so this was looking like a shootout, but that is when the tone of the postseason changed after Mahomes suffered a high-ankle sprain. He was visibly hobbled, but he stayed in the game to finish the drive before leaving for an X-ray.

Mahomes' Injury

Backup Chad Henne came into the game and ended up leading a 98-yard touchdown drive with Pacheco hitting a 39-yard run at the perfect time. Mahomes ended up returning for the third quarter, but you could see he had trouble even getting the handoff on certain runs. Some of the throws were just off because of his mechanics accounting for the injury too.

But after the Jaguars pulled to within a field goal, he still sucked it up long enough to put together a great touchdown drive and threw another scoring strike to put the Chiefs up 10 again.

The defense closed the door by forcing a fumble and interception in the final minutes and the Chiefs were able to hang on for their eighth win despite not covering the spread this season.

But all the focus would be on Mahomes’ ankle for the next week.

AFC Championship Game vs. Cincinnati (W 23-20)

Not only was Mahomes’ health in question, but Kelce tweaked his back in a Friday practice and was a game-time decision. Watching the first half, you could not really tell they were not 100% especially when Mahomes fired a 14-yard touchdown to Kelce on a fourth-and-1. If they looked ginger at any time, that could have just been the weather as it was a wind chill around 10 at kickoff.

Neither team could run the ball, but the Chiefs missed some early opportunities with a dropped touchdown and holding penalty wiping out a touchdown. Instead of 14-0, Kansas City led 6-0 even though Burrow was sacked four times on his first nine dropbacks.

But the Bengals settled down and made this a game despite the Chiefs intercepting Burrow with a 13-3 lead. Mahomes threw three straight incompletions, and the Bengals were able to drive for a field goal to make it 13-6 at halftime.

Mahomes' Injury... Again

Things changed in the third quarter when Mahomes appeared to aggravate his ankle injury and was hopping around again like in the Jacksonville game. He still fired another touchdown bullet to Valdes-Scantling, who had his best game of the season at the right time as JuJu, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman all left the game injured.

But Mahomes would suffer a bad fumble at midfield, Reid made a curious decision to punt from the Cincinnati 37 with the game tied at 20, and the defense blew a coverage on a third-and-16. Just when it looked like Burrow would live up to his legacy and put the Bengals in position for another Super Bowl, Chris Jones was there for a third-down sack to end the drive. He had zero sacks in his first 13 playoff games but had two in this game.

The Chiefs got their longest punt return of the season (29 yards) from Moore, who had his share of fumbles and mistakes in that role this season. Then, Mahomes scrambled on a third down while out of timeouts and was pushed out of bounds for a huge 15-yard flag to give Butker a real shot at the field goal.

Back in The Game

Butker nailed the 45-yard field goal and the Chiefs are back in the Super Bowl. Mahomes will attempt to become the first quarterback to lead the league in passing yards and win the Super Bowl that year. But Sunday took a full team effort this time, and the Chiefs will have to do that again to beat a very talented Philadelphia team.

It could be the first time the Chiefs are an underdog in a playoff game under Mahomes, but that is a role they have filled quite well over the years. For a team that played in so many dramatic prime-time games this year, it would only be fitting for them to give us a classic Super Bowl in Arizona against the Eagles.