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SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN: Chiefs face tough slate as they seek another playoff run

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) runs onto the field before the AFC...
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) runs onto the field before the AFC championship NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)(Paul Sancya | AP)
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:20 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) --- Kansas City has the fifth toughest strength of schedule in the NFL based on their combined opponent win percentage of .533, trailing only the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC.

However based on Vegas’ forecasted win totals for the 2022 season, it’s easily the hardest schedule in the league.

The Chiefs have nine games against playoff teams from last season with the Raiders twice, Bengals, Bills and Titans in the AFC, along with the Buccaneers, Cardinals, 49ers and Rams from the NFC.

Related coverage: Chiefs single-game tickets to be made available for purchase Friday

The Chiefs are coming off a 12-5 regular season campaign. Kansas City’s won six straight AFC West division titles and reached the playoffs in eight of nine years under head coach Andy Reid. Chiefs Kingdom hopes this schedule will culminate in a historic fifth consecutive AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead, followed by a return to the Super Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 12, 2023.

We’ll have in-depth analysis and reaction to the Chiefs schedule on this weekend’s KCTV5 Locker Room Shows at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Week 1, Sept. 11: Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals

The Chiefs hope to start and finish their season in the desert this year, with Arizona’s State Farm Stadium in Glendale set to host Super Bowl 57 on February 12, 2023. History is on Kansas City’s side in week one after seven straight season opening victories. Patrick Mahomes has turned in a perfect season opener stat line over his first four years, totaling 14 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and 295 yards per game in week one. This game brings the first meeting between quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his former college head coach at Texas Tech turned Cardinals head coach, Kliff Kingsbury. The Chiefs lost their last trip to Arizona back in 2014 by a 17-14 score, part of the only season where Andy Reid and Alex Smith failed to make the playoffs. Most recently, Kansas City beat Arizona at Arrowhead 26-14 in Mahomes’ first year under center. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray enters his fourth pro season after winning offensive rookie of the year in 2019, but he’ll have to go without his top wide out DeAndre Hopkins who’s suspended for the first six games of the season. Arizona finished 11-6 last year and made the playoffs for the first time since 2015, but were eliminated by the eventual super bowl champion Rams in the wild card round.

Week 2, Sept. 15: Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Thursday night

Kansas City’s home opener at Arrowhead will kickoff Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. The Chiefs haven’t lost a home opener since 2015, when Kansas City’s last second loss to Peyton Manning’s Broncos spurred a five game losing streak, followed by an 11 game win streak. The Chiefs have also dominated the division for half of the last decade now, winning 38 of their last 43 games against AFC West rivals. After a 12-1 overall stretch of Chiefs over Chargers dominance, Los Angeles has actually won three of their last four games at Arrowhead, with last year’s 30-24 loss marred by four turnovers from the home team. Quarterback Justin Herbert followed up his offensive rookie of the year campaign without a statistical sophomore slump, scoring 41 touchdowns with 5,014 yards. Former Rams defensive coordinator turned head coach Brandon Staley helped lead LA to an 8-5 start, only to then lose three of their final four games in his debut season.

Week 3, Sept. 25: Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts

Patrick Mahomes has dominated the month of September, with a career 11-2 record. Indianapolis has started with five different quarterbacks over the last five years, going from Andrew Luck to Jacoby Brissett to Philip Rivers to Carson Wentz to now former Falcons MVP QB, Matt Ryan. Head coach Frank Reich had Indy barreling toward the playoffs last season, before a shocking upset vs. Jacksonville ended the Colts season at 9-8. Patrick Mahomes’ first career playoff win came against the Colts in 2019, but other than that, it’s been a tough matchup for KC. Most recently, Indianapolis beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead 19-13 the same year Kansas City went on to win the Super Bowl. Then of course the Colts are responsible for four of KC’s playoff losses, notably the 38-10 collapse in 2013, the no-punt game in 2003 and the Lin Elliott game in 1995 with four missed field goals in a 10-7 divisional defeat.

Week 4, Oct. 2: Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday night

Brady vs. Mahomes for perhaps the final time. After announcing his retirement this offseason, only to then change his mind, the 45-year-old Brady will face the 27-year-old Mahomes in prime time week four. This would be the sixth meeting between the two start quarterbacks, and first since Tampa Bay beat the Chiefs 31-9 in 2021′s Super Bowl 55. The QB series is tied 2-2, but both of Brady’s wins have come in the playoffs. Former Jets head coach and Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles takes over at head coach in place of Bruce Arians. The NFL expanded to a 17 game schedule last season, and this is Kansas City’s 2022 NFC addition, along with four games against the NFC East. This will be the third time in just three years that the Chiefs will play the Bucs in Tampa Bay. Kansas City won the last regular season meeting with 269 yards from Tyreek Hill and 462 from Mahomes.

Week 5, Oct. 10: Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders, Monday night

The Chiefs have won 13 of their last 15 games against the Raiders, but one of those losses did come at Arrowhead, followed by the infamous Las Vegas victory lap around the stadium. Former Broncos head coach and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has since replaced John Gruden/Rich Bisaccia as new Raiders head coach. After losing to the eventual AFC Champion Bengals in the wild card round, Las Vegas is coming off just the franchise’s second playoff trip in the last 19 years. The 10 victories was also the team’s second highest win total since 2002. Quarterback Derek Carr looked like his 2016 form that helped the Raiders win 12 games, as he threw for a career high 4804 yards last season. This offseason the Raiders added more offensive ammunition, trading for Carr’s former college teammate turned Packers All-Pro wide out, Davante Adams. The Chiefs have also dominated the division for half of the last decade now, winning 38 of their last 43 games against AFC West rivals.

Week 6, Oct. 16: Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills

The Chiefs and Bills will square off for the 13th time in the last 14 seasons, this time coming off one of the greatest games in NFL history. Their last meeting ended with 31 combined points scored and four go-ahead touchdowns, all after the 2-minute warning. Buffalo left only 13 seconds for Kansas City down three in regulation, which turned out to be plenty of time for Mahomes to find Travis Kelce for a big conversion, followed by a Harrison Butker season-saving field goal. After winning the coin toss in overtime, Mahomes found Kelce again for the walkoff touchdown. It’s just another chapter in this newer rivalry after Kansas City ended Buffalo’s season in the 2020 AFC Championship Game, while the Bills did get some regular season revenge last year with a 38-20 thumping at Arrowhead. Mahomes is 3-1 against former MVP runner-up, Josh Allen, while Andy Reid is 3-2 against his former Philadelphia assistant coach turned Bills head coach, Sean McDermott. The Bills went 17 years without making the playoffs, but have now reached the postseason in four of the last five seasons, and finished 11-7 last year.

Week 7, Oct. 23: Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers

This is a game San Francisco fans, players and coaches have circled after the Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl 54. Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s team led Kansas City by 10 points with less than seven minutes to play, only for KC to come back and score 21 unanswered to win the title in 2020, 31-20. After missing the playoffs the following year, the 49ers returned to the NFC championship game last season after going 10-7 in the regular season, but would lose to the divisional rival Rams. However this year the team is expected to start second year quarterback out of North Dakota State, Trey Lance, in place of Jimmy Garoppolo. Kansas City most recently beat San Francisco 31-20 in Patrick Mahomes’ first career start at Arrowhead in 2018, but KC’s last trip to the bay actually ended with a 22-17 loss back in 2014, on the same day the Royals swept the Angles in the ‘14 ALDS.

Week 8, Oct. 30: BYE WEEK

Week 9, Nov. 6: Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans, Sunday night

Tennessee has been Andy Reid’s kryptonite in Kansas City, with the Titans winning five of the last six meetings. However that one victory was a big one, when the Chiefs erased a 10-0 deficit en route to a 35-24 AFC Championship Game victory at Arrowhead, and eventual Super Bowl title. Head coach Mike Vrabel and Quarterback Ryan Tannehill most recently the Titans rolled the Chiefs in the music city last season 27-3. It was the lowest scoring game of Patrick Mahomes’ career and his second worst game in passer rating, with 2 turnovers, 0 touchdowns and only 206 yards. It was 27-0 at halftime, but a strong second half on defense is what defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo credits for turning around KC’s defense. Tennessee finished 12-5 last year and earned the number one overall seed in the AFC, only to lose at home in the divisional round to the eventual AFC champion Bengals.

Week 10, Nov. 13: Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

What figures to be the easiest game of the season, the Chiefs are set to welcome Jacksonville to Arrowhead this year. Kansas City has won five straight games against the Jaguars, most recently a 40-26 road win to open the 2019 season, and a 30-14 win at Arrowhead in 2018. Jacksonville is coming off a tumultuous 3-14 season which saw former college football coach Urban Meyer’s NFL tenure last 13 weeks before getting fired. The team’s new rebuild is now led by former Chiefs offensive coordinator and Eagles Super Bowl winning head coach, Doug Pederson. The 2021 number one overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence returns at quarterback.

Week 11, Nov. 20: at Los Angeles Chargers

The first two Chiefs vs. Chargers games at SoFi Stadium have lived up to LA’s Hollywood billing. Harrison Butker kicked a game winning 58-yard field goal in 2020, then Kansas City came back to win in overtime last season, as Mahomes and Kelce connected for game-tying and game-winning touchdowns. After a 12-1 overall stretch of Chiefs over Chargers dominance, Los Angeles has actually won two of the last three meetings. Quarterback Justin Herbert followed up his offensive rookie of the year campaign without a statistical sophomore slump, scoring 41 touchdowns with 5,014 yards. Former Rams defensive coordinator turned head coach Brandon Staley helped lead LA to an 8-5 start, only to then lose three of their final four games in his debut season.

Week 12, Nov. 27: Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Rams

Kansas City will welcome the defending Super Bowl champions to Arrowhead for a rematch of one of the greatest regular season games of all time. In their most recent meeting back in 2018, Los Angeles beat KC 54-51 in the third highest scoring game in NFL history and the first game where both teams scored 50 or more points, with a 1,001 total yards combined. After four fourth quarter lead changes, the Chiefs became the first team in NFL history to score at least 50 points and still lose. Mahomes’ six touchdown passes in that game is still tied for his career high, while his 478 yards passing stands alone as number 15′s career high. Head coach Sean McVay and pass rusher Aaron Donald were apart of that game, but this time around LA will have Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp and quarterback Matt Stafford in place of Jared Goff. The Chiefs had won six straight matchups before that Monday night shootout, including the most recent showdown at Arrowhead in 2014 by a 34-7 final score. Last year the Rams turned a 12-5 regular season into the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship since 1999, back when former Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil led the team in St. Louis, Missouri.

Week 13, Dec. 4: Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals

Debates can rage on which revenge game means more to Chiefs fans and players, a rematch against Brady and the Bucs or Burrow and the Bengals. Regardless, Kansas City will face the team that ended their season in last year’s AFC Championship game. Cincinnati beat KC two times over a five week span last year, first with a 34-31 walkoff win in Cincy to snap the Chiefs’ 8-game winning streak, then again at Arrowhead in the playoffs. After winning six total games over the two previous seasons, head coach Zac Taylor and quarterback Joe Burrow led the Bengals to the franchise’s first Super Bowl since 1988, and even held a lead over the Rams late in the 4th quarter. Kansas City has lost six of their last seven games against the Bengals, and haven’t actually won in Cincinnati since 1984.

Week 14, Dec. 11: Chiefs at Denver Broncos, Sunday night

The Chiefs are known for finishing the year strong, winning 14 straight games in December, and 20 of their last 22. Patrick Mahomes hasn’t lost a December game since his first year as starter. The Chiefs have also dominated the division for half of the last decade now, winning 38 of their last 43 games against AFC West rivals. After losing seven straight games to the Broncos in the Peyton Manning era, the Chiefs have now won 13 consecutive games over Denver. After winning the Super Bowl in 2015, the Broncos have yet to turn in a double-digit win season since then. Denver fired head coach Vic Fangio after a 7-10 campaign last year, with former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett now at the helm. This offseason Denver traded for 9-time Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl champion quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson. The Chiefs have played Wilson only twice in his career, winning at Arrowhead in 2014 with Jamaal Charles, but losing in Seattle in Mahomes’ first years as starter.

Week 15, Dec. 18: Chiefs at Houston Texans

Kansas City last played Houston in the 2020 season opener at Arrowhead, where thanks to 138 yards rushing from Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs rolled to a 34-20 win. These two teams also faced off in the 2020 divisional playoff round at Arrowhead, when Kansas City turned a 24-0 first quarter deficit into a 51-31 victory, eliminating Houston from the playoffs for the second time in their last three trips. We’ll see a very different Texans team this time around, now without Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans infamously selected Watson ahead of Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft, and finished just 4-13 last season. This game will also mark the debut for Houston’s new head coach Lovie Smith.

Week 16, Dec. 24: Chiefs vs. Seattle Seahawks

This year the Chiefs will get a chance to show Seattle what the loudest stadium in the NFL sounds like. It’s a new era of Seahawks football after 10 years with Russell Wilson under center. At the moment head coach Pete Carroll is leaning toward former Mizzou star and Lee’s Summit native Drew Lock as the team’s starting quarterback, following three inconsistent seasons in Denver. Another local tie, this is the first time former Kansas State star Tyler Lockett will get to play at Arrowhead, a stadium his dad also called home, Kevin Lockett. The Seahawks finished 7-10 last season and missed the playoffs for just the second time in the last 10 years. Seattle most recently beat the Chiefs 38-31 in Mahomes’ first year as starter, with Kansas City taking the most recent game at Arrowhead back in 2014, 24-20.

Week 17, Jan. 1: Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

After losing seven straight games to the Broncos in the Peyton Manning era, the Chiefs have now won 13 consecutive games over Denver. After winning the Super Bowl in 2015, the Broncos have yet to turn in a double-digit win season since then. Denver fired head coach Vic Fangio after a 7-10 campaign last year, with former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett now at the helm. But the biggest offseason change was moving on from former Mizzou star and Lee’s Summit native Drew Lock, by trading for 9-time Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl champion quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson. The Chiefs have played Wilson only twice in his career, winning at Arrowhead in 2014 with Jamaal Charles, but losing in Seattle in Mahomes’ first years as starter. We’re likely in store for a very different rivalry, after Kansas City outscored Denver 53-9 in 2019, followed by two more wins last season.

Week 18, Jan. 8: Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders

The Chiefs are set to make their third ever trip to Las Vegas to take on the rival Raiders. Their first meeting in sin city ended with a Mahomes to Kelce game-winning touchdown, and last year’s rivalry showdown was the game that helped jump start Kansa City’s offense for the home stretch. The Chiefs have won 13 of their last 15 games against the Raiders. Former Broncos head coach and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has replaced Jon Gruden/Rich Bisaccia as LV’s new head coach. Las Vegas is coming off just the franchise’s second playoff trip in the last 19 years, and the 10 victories was the team’s second highest win total since 2002. Derek Carr threw for a career high 4804 yards last season, and this offseason added his former college teammate turned Packers All-Pro wide out, Davante Adams.