Who can catch the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Conference?

Hits: 18


The Kansas City Chiefs reminded everyone that they are still the team to beat in the NFL with a brilliant run to the Super Bowl, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl 57 to claim their second Vince Lombardi Trophy in four years. At the start of the 2022 season, many believed that the Chiefs’ hold over the AFC was under threat after the departure of Tyreek Hill, along with the rise of the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs, however, displayed the winning nous under the spotlight to win the crown, further highlighting the difference between themselves and the chasing pack.

Kansas City are the leading contenders in the NFL odds to win the Super Bowl again in the 2023 season. With Patrick Mahomes still operating at the peak of his powers, it will take something special to stop him. Any team that wants to try will need to prove that they are capable of not only surpassing the Chiefs, but that they can win the big game under pressure. It’s a rare credential and the franchises chasing the Chiefs have proven in the past that the spotlight is not their friend.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills were the favorites for the Super Bowl at the start of the 2022 season. Josh Allen and company only lost out to the Chiefs in the 2021 season in overtime. The manner of their defeat to Kansas City will still frustrate Bills fans to this day after they allowed Mahomes to tie the game with only 13 seconds remaining in what was a thriller.

Their journey in 2022 was one of frustration and emotion as Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest on the field stunned the nation. Hamlin’s recovery was more important than a Super Bowl run for the Bills.

But, after putting forward a meek effort in their playoff defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals on home soil, the franchise remains hungry for the ultimate success. In snowy conditions, the Bills were blown out in their own stadium. Defeats can linger over a team, so Sean McDermott has a massive challenge on his hands to restore their pride on defense. Their offense too will have to rectify their problems, which recently led to an outburst from star wideout Stefon Diggs on the sideline.

Buffalo have already lost key pieces from their roster during the off-season and the pressure will be on them yet again to live up to the hype. The Bills lost four Super Bowls in a row between 1990 and 1993, and have not been back to the title game since. There is an aura hanging over the franchise that, if not broken soon, could linger for a long time. Buffalo have to break the cycle of under achievement in the 2023 campaign.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are another team that have been starved of the ultimate success. As the underdog in the 2021 season, they stunned the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on the road to reach their first Super Bowl in 33 years.

However, the Bengals failed to hold onto their lead over the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl and suffered a narrow defeat. Cincinnati were confident heading into the new campaign and overcame a slow start to the season to charge into the playoffs with the AFC North crown for the second year in a row.


Joe Burrow and the team edged out the Ravens before dominating the Bills in the Divisional Round. For the second season in a row, Burrow faced off against Mahomes but, unlike the first game, he made crucial mistakes down the stretch and allowed the Chiefs to advance.

The Bengals still have their championship window, which Burrow declared will last for the duration of his career. However, Cincinnati will have to play their best young players in the near future, starting with Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, which could leave Tee Higgins and others exposed to free agency at the end of the next campaign.

There’s no guarantee that the Bengals will be able to replace players of Higgins’ caliber. Jessie Bates, Von Bell and Hayden Hurst have already left to secure huge deals elsewhere. If the trend continues, the Bengals will have to nail all their selections in the NFL Draft and free agency to ensure that they can compete with Kansas City. The 2023 season will be illuminating regarding their long term prospects in the AFC.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are in the position that the Bengals were in their 2022 campaign. Trevor Lawrence enjoyed a breakout season for the Jaguars, looking every inch the player that the franchise were hopeful that he would become after selecting him first-overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He brought out the best in his offense to allow Jacksonville to charge towards their first AFC South title since 2017, reeling off six wins in their final seven games.

The Jags finished with a 9-8 record and then faced off against the Los Angeles Chargers at home in the Wildcard Round. After falling into a 27-0 hole courtesy of a four interceptions by Lawrence, the quarterback dragged his team to one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history to advance to the Divisional Round. They played a tough game against the Chiefs on the road, but just lacked the nous in the key spots to get over the line.

Jacksonville are now in a position where they can build on their success. The experience of reaching the post-season will stand them in good stead, but they must make progress to become a real challenge for the Chiefs and the rest of the AFC. Jacksonville have never reached the Super Bowl in the 27 year history of the franchise. They came closest in 2017 in a narrow defeat to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. The onus is on Lawrence and head coach Doug Pederson to propel the Jaguars forward in 2023, and there is enough talent to sustain their charge, especially with Calvin Ridley available.

Looking Ahead

The Chiefs are the class of the AFC and the NFL. Although there are quality teams in pursuit, none have displayed the credentials to win the big game like Mahomes and his squad have. The 2023 season will tell us a lot about whether any other side are capable of closing the gap, or whether Kansas City will enjoy a dynastic reign in the AFC Conference.