In the makeshift interview room just outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, defensive tackle Chris Jones yelled across to Chiefs teammate Frank Clark, vowing that the Super Bowl championship they had just won would not be the last.
Their road to a repeat is to begin at home and there would be plenty of opportunities for fans to keep tabs on their progress.
An organization that was merely an afterthought less than a decade ago is now one of the centerpieces of the NFL schedule, which was released on Thursday last week with plenty of fanfare and even more hope that it would actually be played.
The Chiefs are to celebrate their first championship in five decades by getting a Thursday matchup with the Houston Texans, who have quickly become one of their new-look rivals, to begin the season.
It does not stop there, though.
The Chiefs have the maximum allotment of five prime-time games for the second consecutive season and the front end of their schedule is particularly tough, with three of their first four games against division champions.
“We have the opportunity to compete against some of the great teams in this league,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “I know our organization and fans get excited for these challenges. We look forward to raising last year’s Super Bowl championship banner and all that comes with defending our title in the 2020 season.”
The game against Houston holds some serious cache, if only because it is another showdown between the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and his Texans counterpart, Deshaun Watson.
It is also the first chance for the Texans to avenge an embarrassing playoff meltdown, when they squandered a 24-0 lead in an eventual 51-31 loss last season.
After visiting the Chargers, the Chiefs head back across the US for what could be the marquee game of the NFL season: Chiefs versus Ravens, the game that most fans expected as last year’s American Football Conference title game.
It is a matchup of the 2018 NFL Most Valuable Player in Mahomes and last year’s Most Valuable Player in Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson — the NFL’s best arm and arguably best legs.
The two teams played early last season in a game won by the Chiefs, and they combined for nearly 1,000 yards and 60 first downs in precisely the kind of shoot-out expected.
The Chiefs return home to face the Patriots, who are now plunging into life post-Tom Brady, and have a Thursday night game at Buffalo and a Sunday showdown with the Panthers in a pair of games likely to draw plenty of viewers.
If not, they will certainly tune in for week 12 and week 15.
The first date is the Chiefs’ trip to Tampa Bay, who not only have Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, but the electrifying Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
The second date is a potential Super Bowl matchup in New Orleans, which also happens to be the first time Mahomes and the Saints’ Drew Brees are set to square off against each other.
“Any time you get a chance to play against some of the greatest players to play the game, I always look at that as a great challenge,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said.
Mathieu has been among Chiefs players who have been pointing toward a repeat. The team signed just about every free agent following their Super Bowl triumph, and added a couple of helpful pieces — notably first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
“You know you’re going to get the best effort and the best change-up from every single team, so for us, we’ve seen what the other teams in our division have been doing, and we understand that they’re trying to come out there and compete against us, and try to take the crown from us,” Mahomes said. “So it’s about us getting better within ourselves, so we can go out there and play our best football when it comes down to it.”
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