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Chiefs ranked NFL’s second-best in a measure we’ve rarely considered

The coronavirus pandemic may make a rarely-considered factor — a team’s continuity — very important in 2020.

San Diego Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

All through the offseason, we’ve been talking about how the Kansas City Chiefs are well-positioned to defend their Super Bowl LIV championship — in part because they have so many players and coaches returning from last season’s team.

The Chiefs have said that this was their plan from the very beginning — that their decision to take this approach was made before anyone knew the coronavirus pandemic was going to upend the NFL offseason. But it’s hard to deny that given the circumstances presently existing, the Chiefs’ decision to take another run at the championship with something very close to the team they fielded in 2019 will give them an additional advantage — particularly early in the season.

For weeks now, it’s appeared that league observers are starting to realize that because of this one-of-a-kind offseason, this kind of continuity could be one of the significant keys to victory in 2020. The latest sign is an ESPN article published on Friday, ranking the league’s teams on the basis of their continuity from 2019.

By their calculations, the Chiefs are second — right behind the Buffalo Bills. Along with the stats they provide for each team, the local ESPN beat reporter gave an evaluation.

Offensive snaps returning: 84.5% (7th)

Defensive snaps returning: 84.9% (3rd)

Starters returning: 22 (10 offense, 10 defense, 2 special teams)

Non-coordinator assistants returning: 22 of 23

Coordinators returning: 3 of 3 (Eric Bieniemy, OC; Steve Spagnuolo, DC; Dave Toub, ST)

Starting QB: Patrick Mahomes, 4th year (3rd as starter)

Head coach: Andy Reid, 8th year (77-35)

What it means: If continuity counts for anything in this most unusual of seasons, the Chiefs are in good shape. Their theme for 2020 is “Run it back,’’ and with just about all of their key players from 2019 still around, that’s exactly what they’re shooting for. In addition, the only departure on the coaching staff is an assistant special-teams coach. —Adam Teicher

For a while, I’ve been saying that one of the games on the 2020 Chiefs schedule that worries me is the one against the Bills in Week 6. Since it’s a Thursday night road game just four days after a division game, it would be difficult under any circumstances. But learning that the Bills will also have a lot of continuity from their 2020 squad makes it even more worrisome. While it’s true that by Week 6, the continuity factor could be less important, I still think it would be mistake to underestimate the Bills in that game.

But before the Chiefs arrive in Buffalo, they’ll have home games against the Houston Texans, New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders — and a road trip against the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens. By then, we ought to have a pretty good idea if continuity counts for a little — or a lot.

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