Any team in the league fresh off a division title and playoff berth should be rather proud of their accomplishment. Ideally, the mentality in every locker room in the NFL is Super Bowl or bust. That’s just to be expected. But when a franchise like the Kansas City Chiefs break out of their losing habits and win their division with a record of 10-6, we’re talking about a very good season.
So, by that standard, what improvements can be realistically set for Kansas City, outside of actually winning in the playoffs?
First and foremost, you have to look at the record within the division. While the Chiefs may have bowled over a few softies out of the division, they were only 2-4 in their division, only one game better than the last place-finishing Denver Broncos (4-12/1-5).
If the Chiefs hope to improve their odds of winning in the playoffs they must first start with winning in their division. If they can’t win against teams like Oakland and Denver, they really have no gauge of talent or skill come playoff time.
Currently, any sports book around will say the Chiefs’ odds of repeating as division champs are about 20:1. That’s because San Diego is expected to be stable next year, and the Raiders were undefeated in the AFC West, losing some heartbreakers to teams like San Francisco and Indianapolis outside of the division.
Why is winning in the division so important to a team’s odds of success? Well, just take a look around the league this year and behold the great rematches played by division rivals in the playoffs.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh test one another constantly during the regular season. Now that the Steelers are in the Super Bowl, it’s easy to say they’re better. But going into their Divisional Round Playoff matchup, who could call it?
We see the same thing with the Jets and the Patriots. Strong in-division teams just excel well in the playoff structure, because they’re battle-tested when it matters most – against teams with whom familiarity smothers surprise.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were 5-1 in their division, and the Green Bay Packers were 4-2. This is the mark of a tough football team, even if it is an underrated statistic of winning teams.
In sports betting, division games are harder to guess than picking the right number with online roulette. You just can’t know which team will prevail. And that’s due to the fact that, when they already know how you’re going to play and what you bring to the table, the team wanting it more, bringing more passion and more heart to the table, usually walks away victorious.
Although the Chiefs’ goals may be lofty next year, they need to start from square one. If they can develop that essential toughness within their division, the playoffs won’t pose that much of a challenge.