You shouldn’t have any trouble finding the Kansas City Chiefs on your TV this season. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are scheduled to play six games on prime time in 2023, tied for the most among NFL teams. As they aim to defend their Lombardi Trophy, will the Chiefs’ schedule allow them to repeat as Super Bowl champions?

The Kansas City Chiefs Should Start Hot in 2023

The Chiefs’ best start during the Reid era actually predates Mahomes’ arrival in Kansas City. In 2013, newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith helped the Chiefs to a 9-0 record to begin the season. However, K.C. went just 5-6 down the stretch and eventually lost the AFC West to the Peyton Manning-led Broncos.

Getting off to hot starts and going on extended winning streaks hasn’t been a problem for Mahomes since he took over as the Chiefs’ starter in 2018. Then again, winning streaks were to be expected, given that Kansas City has only lost between two and five regular-season games in each season with Mahomes under center.

The Chiefs started 4-0 in each of Mahomes’ first three campaigns as their starting quarterback. Their 2023 schedule will give them the opportunity to match or exceed that mark.

Chiefs 2023 Schedule

Kansas City will kick off next season by hosting the Lions, an up-and-coming team that might be able to keep up with the Chiefs offensively but is still a tier or two below Mahomes and Co. Next up are the Jaguars, whom K.C. beat twice last year, and the Bears, who should show more promise after an active offseason but don’t boast anywhere near the talent that the Chiefs can.

If Kansas City is still undefeated through three weeks, they’d already be incredibly likely to earn a playoff spot for the ninth consecutive season. Since 1990, teams that began with a 3-0 record have made the postseason 74.7% of the time.

Of course, simply making the playoffs isn’t the goal for the Chiefs. And in a crowded AFC littered with contenders, Kansas City will have to keep the pedal to the floor throughout the entire season.

A Week 4 game against the Jets will pit Mahomes against another future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers. If Gang Green is as good as expected with Rodgers in town, this contest could be critical for head-to-head tiebreakers at the end of the season.

Matchups against the Vikings and Broncos in Weeks 5 and 6 look like victories for the Chiefs, but their schedule will get much more difficult when the Chargers come to town in Week 7.

The Chiefs’ Schedule Gets More Challenging As the Season Progresses

Based on PFN’s strength of schedule metrics, Kansas City has the 13th-hardest schedule in the NFL in 2023. With a relatively easy slate to begin the season, it only makes sense that the Chiefs’ opponents would start getting more stout as the year progresses.

Kansas City could conceivably be 6-0 heading into Week 7, but they’ll face two tough opponents before their Week 10 bye. The Chiefs beat the Chargers twice last season, but they only outscored Los Angeles by six total points. After a potential breather against Denver in Week 8, K.C. will face Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins’ terrifying offense in Germany.

The Chiefs will wisely take their bye in Week 10 following their trip overseas, but they’ll return to a strenuous end-of-season schedule when they return. This eight-game stretch could determine whether Kansas City earns the AFC’s No. 1 seed, home-field advantage, and a first-round bye for the second consecutive season.

Tough Late Season Schedule

A Super Bowl rematch against the Eagles in Week 11 will kick off the second half of the Chiefs’ schedule. While Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Round 2 profiles as one of the games of the year, it might not have an outsized effect on AFC playoff positioning, given that it’s an interconference contest.

However, four games in December and January could determine where the Chiefs stand when the regular season concludes: vs. Bills (Week 14), at Patriots (Week 15), vs. Bengals (Week 17), at Chargers (Week 18).

Kansas City will get extra rest before playing New England on a Monday night game, but they’ll be forced to play Cincinnati on a short week in Week 17 after hosting another MNF game in Week 16.

If the Chiefs can go 2-2 in those crucial games, they could lose two other contests on their schedule and still end up with a 13-4 record. While K.C. wouldn’t match their 14-3 mark from 2021 in that scenario, they’d still have a good shot of sewing up the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

Earning the No. 1 seed won’t guarantee the Chiefs another Lombardi or even a Super Bowl appearance. But since the NFL expanded to 12 playoff teams in 1990, 50% of No. 1 seeds have at least made it to the Super Bowl.

The NFL playoffs are often a crapshoot, and the AFC field is tougher than ever. But Mahomes, Reid, and the Chiefs are set up as well as any team to win 13+ games in 2023, giving them a defined path to defending their Super Bowl win.