Throughout the campaign, the Chiefs had a number of obstacles to overcome. They were stunned by the Buffalo Bills on home turf on week six. Superstar quarterback Josh Allen led the visitors to a monumental 24-20 victory. That result prompted sportsbook Bovada, which provides football betting odds and futures, to make the Bills the favorites for the title. However, the Highmark Stadium stadium side was defeated in the Divisional round of the playoffs by 2022’s beaten finalists, the Cincinnati Bengals.
They then met the Chiefs in the AFC championship game, and it was Patrick Mahomes and co. whose experience shone through.
The Chiefs are approaching dynasty status. They have reached the Conference Championships in each of the last five seasons, winning on three occasions. Two of those three victories have been converted into Lombardi trophies, and it is in Kansas City where we start.
Here are our top contenders for Super Bowl LVIII glory.
Kansas City Chiefs
Where else is there to start but at Arrowhead Stadium? The Kansas City Chiefs will head into the 2023 NFL season as the team to beat. They currently have a stranglehold on the AFC akin to the one that Tom Brady and his New England Patriots had throughout the 2010s.
Between 2011 and 2018, the Patriots reached at least the conference championships in eight consecutive seasons. They converted that success into five Super Bowl appearances and three Lombardi trophies. But the Chiefs are on course to match that and perhaps, maybe even better it.
Their Conference Championship appearance streak currently stands at five. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is still just 27 years of age and he may have another decade in him as an elite player, if not more. Travis Kelce will go down in history as the greatest Tight End to have ever played the game, while 23-year-old running back Isiah Pacheco is only just getting started.
The biggest threat to the Chiefs’ crown will come from their fellow AFC rivals. But Mahomes and co. are only getting better, and they have proven that they can grind out victories even when they aren’t playing at their best, on the biggest stage no less. They will take some beating in 2023.
One team that gave the Chiefs all they could handle last season was the Cincinnati Bengals. In recent years, the Ohio side has fired itself into the upper echelons of the league. 26-year-old quarterback Joe Burrow is right up there with Mahomes as one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and he has stated that he wants to spend his entire career in Cincinnati.
Last season, the Bengals endured a difficult start to the campaign. After eight games, they had a record of 4-4, however, they would then embark on an eight-game winning streak (plus one no-contest) to secure their spot as AFC North Champions. They also managed to pick up victories over the Chiefs in the regular season and the Bills in the postseason, securing their status as one of the finest teams in the country.
Prior to last season, the Bengals hadn’t won a postseason game in 30 years. Now they have won five playoff games in the last 24 months, securing back-to-back AFC championship appearances in the process. Surely that elusive first Lombardi Trophy is right around the corner.
Last season, the Bills were the favorites to win the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. They couldn’t convert those betting odds into glory, however, eventually being outplayed by the Bengals in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, losing out 27-10 on home turf nonetheless.
The Bills have proven that they can compete with the very best. They defeated the Chiefs away from home last season and in Josh Allen, they have a quarterback who is right up there with the aforementioned Mahomes and Burrow. But the New York State outfit can’t help but falter when it matters the most.
Throughout the early 1990s, the Bills reached four consecutive Super Bowls. Three decades on from that achievement, they remain the only team in history to achieve such a feat. Inexplicably, however, the Bills lost all four, and it seems that those ghosts still loiter in the back of the team’s collective mind.
Last term, the Bills headed into the playoffs as joint top seeds. Indeed, had they beaten the Bengals, the conference championship tie against the eventual champion Chiefs would have been played at a neutral venue. The NFL was already selling tickets for the game as they presumed that Allen and co. would sweep Burrow’s Bengals aside.
As we all remember, however, they were routed on home turf. Now in the close season, the Bills must find a way to put that humbling defeat behind them. If they can do that, then they will be amongst the teams to beat once again next term.