While the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2022 schedule is rightfully being decried as brutal, it will allow the Chiefs to write new chapters on some recent losses. Four teams on their schedule defeated them in 2021 — and the Chiefs will have rematches against teams that were responsible for two of their most famous recent losses.
Let’s look at six of this season’s matchups, ranking them by the revenge factor.
6. Week 4 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There is nothing that can happen in a regular-season game that can make up for the Buccaneers defeating the Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV. Even if the Chiefs’ defense physically punishes Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady so much that backup Blaine Gabbert has to finish the game, it would still fall well short of complete revenge.
However, two years later, enough players will return that emotions will be high for this one, which will be played at the same site as the lopsided Super Bowl loss. With a victory, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes can also tie Brady in head-to-head games with three wins apiece. But due to Brady’s two victories in postseason play, such a win would still be likely to have only a minimal impact on the rivalry. Finally, an interconference game so early in the year reduces the potential overall ramifications of the game. For these reasons, it ranks last as a revenge opportunity.
5. Week 12 vs. the Los Angeles Rams
In 2018 — Mahomes’ first year as a starter — the Chiefs met the Rams on Monday Night Football. In the third-highest scoring game in NFL history, the Rams won 54-51. Since then, the Chiefs have held the dishonor of being the only NFL team to score 50 points in a loss. The Rams are also one of only three teams that Mahomes has never defeated.
Four years later, this game is not exactly a rematch. Between the two teams, only ten players who appeared in that contest remain with their respective clubs. Those players, however, include the two most important ones: Mahomes and Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
The Rams’ eight-time All-Pro was dominant against Kansas City in 2018, recording forced fumbles on two sacks — one of them that was returned for a Rams touchdown. To the frustration of Chiefs fans, he is frequently listed ahead of Mahomes in top NFL player rankings. So the Week 12 matchup might allow Mahomes to address perceived national media slights more than it could exact revenge for the previous loss. A top performance against Donald (and the reigning Super Bowl champions) could enhance Mahomes’ legacy, giving the game revenge potential beyond the 2018 defeat.
4. Week 9 vs. the Tennessee Titans
Considering that it is a primetime game between reigning division winners, this game seems to have received very little big-game traction. That’s likely to be because Kansas City fans do not want to revisit last season’s 27-3 defeat in the Music City, in which Mahomes left the game after taking heavy punishment during one of the worst losses of head coach Andy Reid’s tenure.
Chiefs fans’ bad memories combine with the Titans appearing to trend down — despite being the AFC’s No. 1 seed last season. Tennessee was underwhelming in a Divisional round playoff loss, which led to offseason questions about the future of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. After trading star receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles, the offense now appears to be worse overall. It is set to depend on an unproven receiver room — as well as hopes that after his broken foot last season, 28-year-old running back Derrick Henry returns to form.
Still, there should be more hype around this game. The defense that held Kansas City out of the end zone returns mostly intact — and the Chiefs now have a chance to avenge an embarrassing loss at Arrowhead. It’s likely that the Titans will again be AFC South contenders, giving this mid-season contest a good chance of having an impact on the playoffs.
3. Week 2 vs. the Los Angeles Chargers
While one could say that the Chiefs have already avenged last year’s early-season 30-24 home loss to the Chargers with a late-season 34-28 overtime road victory, the sting for home losses tends to run deep. Given the Chiefs’ offensive gaffes (and sloppy defensive play) in 2021’s Week 3 loss, this is especially true.
As the first game in the NFL’s new Amazon Prime package, the league will heavily promote this matchup. As usual, the Chargers are coming off of a splashy offseason — and are being hyped as favorites to win the AFC West. In the second week of the season, the Chiefs have a great opportunity to deliver payback for a frustrating loss — and chalk up an important division win.
2. Week 6 vs. the Buffalo Bills
The most anticipated game on the league’s 2022 schedule has the Bills returning to Arrowhead, where dominated Kansas City 38-20 in last season’s Week 5 matchup — and also where they famously came up just short in one of the greatest playoff games of all time: the team’s 42-36 overtime loss to the Chiefs in the Divisional round.
While the Chiefs won when it mattered most last season, they will enter this game with serious axes to grind. The Bills are the one AFC squad that is consistently ranked above the Chiefs — and their quarterback Josh Allen is one of the few who is argued to be at Mahomes’ level. In addition, the league responded to Kansas City’s playoff victory on the first drive of overtime by changing postseason overtime rules — a consideration that was not extended to the Chiefs after their similar loss to the New England Patriots in 2018’s AFC Championship. Kansas City could simultaneously avenge a painful loss and prove that the best team came out on top in January. The game will be Step 1 in once again positioning the Chiefs as the AFC’s team to beat.
1. Week 13 at the Cincinnati Bengals
And here is Step 2. Late in the year, the Chiefs will travel to Cincinnati for what is undoubtedly the season’s top revenge opportunity. Twice in the course of a month last season — in December’s regular-season matchup and then in the AFC Championship game — the Chiefs turned in three-point losses to the Bengals by following dominant first halves with tepid second-half play. Kansas City fans watched in horror as uncharacteristically bad execution prevented a third straight trip to the Super Bowl.
This game should be a good opportunity for a statement win. It will be early enough in Mahomes’ rivalry with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow that every matchup will move the needle — and by taking place late in the season, the game has the potential to heavily impact the AFC playoff picture. While the Bengals left Arrowhead with the Lamar Hunt Trophy in January, sports media has not totally bought into the idea that they are top contenders. With another victory in this two-step process, the Chiefs would cement themselves as the conference’s top team.