KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Every year of Andy Reid’s storied coaching career, the first goal for his football team is to win a division title.
Why? Winning the division assures a team a spot in the playoffs and a home game to boot.
Home-field advantage is gravy in the quest for a Super Bowl title, but Reid knows that a division title always gives his team a chance.
“The first goal is always to win the AFC West,” wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. said. “... We’ve got more goals to come down the road, but that’s just one of the goals that we needed.”
The Chiefs have now won six straight AFC West titles, breaking a record for division dominance it had shared with the 1972-76 Raiders and 2011-15 Broncos.
“We don’t take any of those experiences for granted at all,” Reid said. “I know we get a free T-shirt and a hat, but there’s a lot of sweat that goes into this, a lot of effort.”
Kansas City’s streak of division championships is tied for the third-longest in NFL history since the merger with the 1974-79 Steelers and 1973-78 Vikings.
Only the 2009-19 Patriots and 1973-79 Rams have ever had longer division championship-winning streaks.
“As I think back over the last 15 or so years, I remember in those early years being excited any year we were in the running to win the division,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “I never thought about winning the division five or six years in a row.”
After starting the season 3-4 and being written off by many NFL observers, winning the AFC West title in 2021 is as sweet, if not more so, than the previous few years.
“I do — 100% — this year as much as any,” Mahomes said when asked if his fourth division title in four seasons as the starting QB remains as meaningful. “If you look at the AFC West, every team is still battling for a playoff spot. It’s a tough division that you have to go in with the mindset of ‘we have to win the AFC West divisional games to get where we want to be at.’”
Mahomes threw three touchdowns and set the Arrowhead Stadium record for career scoring throws, but the defense also dominated once again during a 36-10 win Sunday against Pittsburgh.
Kansas City’s defense had allowed 17 points or fewer in seven of the last eight games, all wins, in helping secure the title.
“Anytime you want to get to your goals at the end of the year, this is the first step,” linebacker Anthony Hitchens said. “This is the first step for our organization and our team, but we’re not done, we’re not satisfied.”