Despite Recent Success, Chiefs Aren't Buying Into the Hype

A nice regular season isn’t going to have these coaches and players patting their backs

If you asked any player or coach in the NFL heading into any given season, he's always going to tell you that his goal is a Super Bowl championship—as it should be. 

That's the reason you play the game and people in this profession don't get here without having a certain level of self-confidence.

But for some teams, that goal is a loftier expectation than it is for others heading into a given season.

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In the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, at this time a year ago, much of the outside world was wondering if this team would be able to win its first playoff game in more than two decades—putting an end to an NFL record eight straight postseason losses dating back to the 1993 season.

The Chiefs did put an end to that streak with their 30-0 victory over the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card game last year.

Now in Week 15 of the 2016 season, after solidifying their fourth straight winning season to begin the Andy Reid-led era in Kansas City, the Chiefs are a win on Sunday away from punching their third playoff trip in four years.

While the expectations internally haven't changed, the loftiness of those oft-said statements to the media of the goal being to "win the Super Bowl" might have.

But a veteran team grounded by a foundation of knowing what's important—what's real and what's truly possible—won't be sidetracked by its own hype.

"We all get excited about what is to come, but we're also realists and understand that this is another barrier to get over in order to get there," linebacker Dee Ford explained of the opportunity in front of them over the next three games. "We know how that felt last year, to dig ourselves in a hole, so let's not do that this year. We could still do that if we don't focus. You don't want to waste energy trying to get out of a hole when you could just keep being consistent and have all that energy for the postseason.

"If you just keep focusing [week to week], it's so much easier that way. Focus on Tennessee, respect the fact that they're coming in and trying to beat you."

The great thing about last year's team wasn't the fact that it won a playoff game; it's that it began the season 1-5 and had to fight its way back to even be in that position.

It's* that* lesson that resonates with this year's team, and it's a perspective that's important to have with so many things that could easily deflect these guys' attention right now.

The fact that a bye and a home playoff game are very real possibilities if they take care of business over the next three weeks, or simply that it's Week 15 and a playoff ticket could be punched with a win on Sunday.

"I know it's an important time of the year – I know that," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said on Wednesday afternoon. "If you're still in the hunt, every game becomes an important game, right? If you can just keep it that simple from a coach and a player standpoint – you're doing okay. It's going to get blown up around you and all, but we don't do all that stuff. We focus in on the job at hand, and if you don't take care of business there, then you have a problem.

"Anything that gets in the way of that, I think is a mistake. That's what my experiences have told me over the years. So, that's where I go with it."

Despite winning 20 of their last 23 regular-season games and all that could be accomplished over the next few weeks, the Chiefs aren't buying into the hype or focusing on anything past the Tennessee Titans, who head to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday with their own playoff implications on the line. A win on Sunday would just be a checkpoint on the journey, not a reason to slow down and enjoy the view—that won't come until later.

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