It might be that last full football game you watched was the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV — a game that will undoubtedly live in our memories forever. The game brought head coach Andy Reid his first Lombardi trophy and cemented quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ legacy in just his second year as a starter — and painted Kansas City in festive red for weeks.
Since then, much has changed in our society. As I write this, the city and its surrounding counties are preparing to enter a shelter-in-place lockdown beginning on Tuesday. As athletes, coaches and team staffs all over the world isolate themselves for the health and safety of themselves and the public, all kinds of sports are on pause.
And for fans anxious for news about their newly-minted world champion team, it doesn’t help that thus far, the Chiefs have been pretty quiet in free agency.
But there’s one way we can pass the time during this difficult period of quarantine and social distancing: NFL Game Pass, which allows you to go back and watch full and condensed games of every NFL game played since 2009.
And for the time being, the NFL has made this application free for everyone.
There are likely dozens of Chiefs games you’ve forgotten about — or never saw — that would be great to watch.
But where to start?
Over a decade ago, Brian Burke — an ESPN analytics specialist who is known as the godfather of NFL analytics — published an article detailing how to use a win probability model to capture a game’s excitement. Since then, others have used similar metrics to quantify the excitement of other sports like NCAA Basketball.
So in order to help you narrow down your choices, I’ve applied an analytical approach to finding Chiefs games that would be fun to watch.
Exciting Chiefs games
Not all of these games were Chiefs victories. But by Burke’s metric, they were very exciting to watch.
- Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead, Week 8 of 2010. This game scored an 8.62 on Burke’s excitement index — the second-highest of any NFL game since 2009.
- San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead, Week 8 2011. This game scored a 7.55 on the index. Apparently Week 8 at Arrowhead is a good time to catch a game; the Chiefs’ top two most-exciting games were at home during this week.
- Chiefs at New York Giants, Week 11 of 2017. This game scored a 7.39.
- New England Patriots at Arrowhead, 2018 conference championship. 7.32 on the index, but (spoiler alert) it’s likely a 99 on the Chiefs Heartbreak Scale. Most fans will remember how this one ended — but it certainly was an exciting game!
- Denver Broncos at Arrowhead, Week 2 of 2015. Full of huge turnovers, this game scored a 6.88 on the excitement index.
Dominant Chiefs performances
Here are the top five most dominant Chiefs games since 2009, which I’ve picked by averaging the team’s win probability throughout the game. In all of these, the opponent was very unlikely to stage a comeback.
- Chiefs at Washington Redskins, Week 14 of 2013. The Chiefs averaged a 93% chance of winning this game from start to finish.
- Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead, Week 16 of 2010. The good guys averaged a 92% win probability.
- Chiefs at Denver Broncos, Week 10 of 2015. The Chiefs averaged a 91% win probability — and there’s nothing better than smashing a division rival! Spoiler alert: this is one of my favorite games to watch; I genuinely thought that the Chiefs might have sent Peyton Manning out to pasture. Of course, we know how that season ended...
- Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead, Week 17 of 2018. Chiefs averaged a 90% win probability, beating another division rival.
- Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead, 2018 divisional round. A second consecutive week of dominant play where the Chiefs averaging a 90% chance of winning, owning the Colts and officially breaking a postseason curse in the minds of many fans.
What if you’re a glutton for punishment? Here are the most pitiful performances by a Chiefs team since 2009 — the games in which they had the lowest average chance of winning. Watch these only if you are strong at heart — and keep your Lombardi memories close.
- Chiefs at Denver Broncos, Week 10 of 2010. The Chiefs averaged just a 5% chance of winning this game. Yikes!
- Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 4 of 2016. In this game, the Chiefs averaged only an 8% chance to win. I watched this game live with a Pittsburgh fan — and I remember the experience vividly. Not fun.
- Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead, Week 1 of 2011. The Chiefs came out flat that season, averaging just a 10% win probability in the home opener against the Bills.
- San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead, Week 4 of 2012. The team managed just an 11% chance of winning this game — the first of two Chargers games on this list...
- San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead, Week 7 of 2009. In this one, the Chiefs averaged a win probability of just 12%.
That will get you started. I hope these games give you some excitement, joy and a sense of gratitude for the current state of the franchise. Please share your memories of these games in the comments!
And If you’re interested, you can calculate all of these metrics yourself with the full code located here.