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The Kansas City Chiefs are on the precipice of becoming a dynasty.  

The defending Super Bowl champions are in their fourth Super Bowl in the last five seasons, and are just the third squad ever to do so, joining the 1990s Buffalo Bills (1990-1993) and the 2010s New England Patriots (2014-2018). Should they defeat the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers for a third title in this span, with a second win against the 49ers in this run, they will be without a doubt, a dynasty. 

Here is a look at the three main reasons why they will power themselves to a Super Bowl LVIII title to conclude the 2023 season. 

3. Travis Kelce

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes throwing to tight end Travis Kelce has resulted in the best completion percentage (80.9%) and the best passer rating (139.2) among 30 quarterback-receiver duos with 50 or pass attempts to each other in the last 15 postseasons. They have also connected for the most touchdowns by a quarterback receiver duo ever with 17, two more than the connection of Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski and their 15 as a tandem. They're like John Stockton passing to Karl Malone, if that Hall of Fame basketball duo actually came through in the NBA Finals. 

Here's how their connection comes through in critical situations: 

  • 23 of 28, 14 TD in the red zone
  • 18 of 24, 4 TD on throws of 15+ air yards
  • 31 of 36, 5 TD when blitzed
  • 30 of 41, 5 TD when pressured

In three career games against San Francisco, including Super Bowl LIV that capped the 2019 season, Mahomes has completed 20 of his 24 passes to Kelce for 255 yards and a touchdown. 

There has also never been a better playoff pass-catcher in league history than Kelce. His 156 postseason catches broke the previous all-time record of 151 set by the overall receiving GOAT Jerry Rice. Kelce is four playoff receiving touchdowns away from passing Rice's postseason receiving touchdowns record of 22. 

2. The best Chiefs defense of the 21st century

Not only is Steve Spagnuolo's 2023 defense the best of his Kansas City tenure, but it's the best Chiefs defense of the 21st century. Including the postseason, they rank second in the league in scoring defense (16.8 PPG allowed), fourth in total defense (294.7 total YPG allowed) and first in sack rate (8.6%).   

Chiefs defense this season, including playoffs


PPG Allowed



Total YPG Allowed



Sack Rate



* All top four in NFL this season

The Chiefs defense is playing this year at an all-time great level, in the company of some of the best defenses in recent memory. They have allowed under 28 points in all 20 of their games, the most such games in a season in NFL history including the postseason. Each of the four teams to do so in all of their games in the Super Bowl era, since 1966 -- the 2000 Ravens (all 19 games), the 2002 Buccaneers (all 19 games), the 2005 Steelers (all 19 games) and the 2010 Packers (all 19 games) -- each won the Super Bowl. 

In their last six games, which includes their entire playoff run and their last three regular-season games, Kansas City's defense has been impenetrable in the second half and especially the fourth quarter. They have allowed one touchdown and only 19 points in their last six second halves, including no (none, zilch, zero) touchdowns and just six points in their last six fourth quarters.  

How are they doing all this? Spagnuolo's group is equipped with All-Pros at defensive tackle (Chris Jones) and cornerback (McDuffie) and plenty of youth that is growing into their own (George Karlaftis, tied for a team-high 10.5 sacks with Jones, defensive end Mike Danna, linebacker Willie Gay Jr., linebacker Nick Bolton). 

Spagnuolo himself has also shown the type of schematic flexibility that is necessary to adapt and survive throughout the playoffs. He is known as an aggressive blitzer, and the 2023 regular season supported that notion: The Chiefs blitzed on 37% of opponent dropbacks, the fourth-highest rate in the league. Spags has become more selective with manufacturing pressure, blitzing on only 30.4% of opponent dropbacks, the eighth-highest rate out of 14 playoff teams. 

He has been varied round-to-round with his signature pressure looks. The Chiefs blitzed 21 times total against the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills in the first two rounds of the postseason, but then they cranked it up against 2023 First-Team All-Pro quarterback Lamar Jackson with 20 blitzes against the Ravens. All 20 were unique blitzes, meaning each was different based on who blitzed, from where and with what coverage behind it, according to CBS Sports Research. Spagnuolo dialed up a Chiefs' season-high 12 defensive back blitzes against Jackson to great results: 21 passing yards allowed and a sack taken on 3 of 10 passing. 

Spagnuolo mixes it up

Chiefs blitzes this postseason

  • vs. Dolphins/Bills: 21 blitzes (four with six+ pass rushers)
  • vs. Ravens: 20 blitzes (seven with six+ pass rushers)

The Chiefs utilize the defensive back blitz more than anyone with 108 plays with it, and the fewest passing yards per pass attempt allowed (4.9) with the concept in 2023. When McDuffie is involved in pass-rushing, opposing quarterbacks struggle: 46% completion percentage, 4.2 yards per pass attempt and an 0-2 TD-INT ratio when McDuffie is in the pass rush this season.

They are allowing 13.7 points per game this postseason against opponents that combined to average 28.0 points per game in the regular season, tossing elite offenses 6 feet under round after round. This buzzsaw will be a massive reason why Kansas City can come away with a victory on Sunday. 

Chiefs defense this postseason

  • Held the Dolphins to season-worsts in points (7), yards per play (4.5) and third downs (1 of 12)

Miami had the longest active NFL streak of averaging 5+ yards per play snapped (17 games).

  • Held the Bills to their fewest yards-per-pass attempt (4.8) since 2021 and fewest yards per completion (7.2) since 2018

Buffalo had the second-longest active NFL streak of averaging 5+ yards per pass attempt (39 games) snapped.

  • Held the Ravens to a season-low 81 rush yards and fewest time of possession (22:30) of Lamar Jackson's career

Baltimore had its longest active (also tied for fifth-longest streak in NFL history) with 100+ rush yards snapped (35 games).

1. QB Patrick Mahomes

Mahomes is on fire, even by his lofty standards. He hasn't thrown an interception in six consecutive postseason starts, the longest streak by a quarterback in playoff history when having thrown a minimum of 20 passes in each playoff game. The end result of each one of those contests were the Chiefs coming away with victories. As a result, Mahomes, 28, is set to become the first quarterback ever to start his fourth Super Bowl before age 30. 

Patrick Mahomes' postseason performance since 2022

CategoriesStatisticsNFL Rank In Span*




Comp Pct

70% (142-203)


Pass TD






Passer Rating



* Ranks among 14 QBs with 50 or more pass attempts in last two postseasons

Mahomes also shredded the 49ers secondary the last time these two teams played, a Chiefs' 44-23 win at San Francisco in Week 7 of the 2022 season. He tossed three touchdowns and racked up 423 passing yards while completing 25 of his 34 passing attempts. That led to a career-high 12.4 yards per pass attempt overall for Mahomes in the victory.  

He particularly feasted on their zone coverage, averaging 15.1 yards per pass attempt against it, the highest rate by any quarterback in a game versus any team in the last four seasons, including playoffs, among 1,430 quarterback games with at least 20 pass attempts against a team's zone coverage. Sure, their defensive coordinator at the time was current Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans, but their scheme is still zone heavy under current DC Steve Wilks. 

The 49ers have played zone defense on 79.7% of their defensive plays this postseason, the second highest rate among the 14 teams, and they have been successful with it, allowing the lowest passer rating in zone this postseason (76.2). 

No matter what Wilks throws at Mahomes, he'll likely eventually beat San Francisco's strong zone coverage and power the Chiefs to becoming the NFL's first repeat Super Bowl champions since the 2003-2004 New England Patriots, snapping the longest drought without repeat Super Bowl champions in NFL history.