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New ranking suggests Chiefs could make history in 2021

Kansas City stands poised to do something no AFC West team has ever done.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

On Wednesday, NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt published an article in which he ranked the NFL’s eight most vulnerable defending division champions — that is, the divisions that are most likely to have a new champion in 2021.

Brandt — who served as vice-president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 through 1989 — is one of the most respected NFL media analysts. His choice for the most vulnerable defending division champion — the New Orleans Saints, now without quarterback Drew Brees and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pushing for a return to the Super Bowl — would be obvious to just about anyone.

But for Kansas City Chiefs fans, his choice for the league’s least vulnerable defending division champ is worth noticing.

8. Kansas City Chiefs • AFC West • 2020 record: 14-2
Top contenders: Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos

I’m not listing all three divisional opponents here because they’re all poised to knock off Kansas City, even if each team improved this offseason. Rather, they’re grouped together because none stands out as having an especially strong chance of seriously challenging the Chiefs, especially with Patrick Mahomes receiving improved protection behind a revamped offensive line.

It’s hard to argue against his logic. Like NBC Sports‘ Peter King and ESPN’s NFL beat writers, Brandt clearly sees the Chiefs as one of the league’s elite teams — one that is poised for a return to the Super Bowl. That journey begins in the AFC West, where no team is currently perceived to have a reasonable shot at winning the division.

That puts the Chiefs in a position to do something that no AFC West team has ever done: win six consecutive division titles.

Preseason expectations are often wrong; the coming season could very well play out much differently than anyone is predicting. But even after being humiliated in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs are clearly expected to continue their domination of their division — and the AFC.