On Sunday, the Chiefs are meeting a team from the AFC West that exists in a new city, plays in a non-traditional football stadium and is guided by a new coaching staff.
Yet, the Chiefs are looking for the same old, same old when it comes to outcome.
The Los Angeles Chargers are the opponent, and they will try to become the first division foe to defeat the Chiefs since 2015.
Since falling to the Denver Broncos in a prime-time game at Arrowhead Stadium — remember the Jamaal Charles fumble returned for a game-winning touchdown by Bradley Roby with 27 seconds remaining? — the Chiefs have won 11 straight against AFC West opponents: the Chargers, Broncos and Oakland Raiders. The run is part of a streak in which the Chiefs have won 24 of their last 28 regular-season games.
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NFL teams play six games against division opponents and 10 against other teams, but in the AFC West, supremacy against the division rivals has been the strongest indicator of overall success.
That Broncos’ triumph in Arrowhead three seasons ago was their 13 th straight against division foes on the road, a streak that would grow to 15. Denver won its fifth straight division title and the Super Bowl that season.
The Chiefs’ hot streak paved the way for their supplanting of the Broncos atop the division. They won their final five division games of 2015 and earned a playoff spot.
Last year’s 6-0 division record meant the Chiefs were the AFC’s No. 2 seed in the postseason over the Raiders, who also finished with a 12-4 mark.
The Chiefs are off to a fast start, 2-0 with victories at New England and the home opener on Sunday against the Eagles, and Andy Reid will take a victory against any opponent. He said the Chiefs don’t shape a roster to match up against division opponents, but they spend time working on division opponents during offseason training activities.
“It’s a good review,” Reid said. “You’ve got to play these guys twice. When you play a team twice you have to spend a little time on them.”
There will be less familiarity with the Chargers, who are guided by first-year head coach Anthony Lynn. The hiring came on the same day Chargers owner Dean Spanos announced the team was moving from San Diego to Los Angeles and would play in the StubHub Center, the 27,000-seat home of the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer through 2019.
The Chiefs’ team record for consecutive division victories is 12, from 1994 to 1996. That included the first time the Chiefs went undefeated in division games — ,in 1995 they went 8-0 on their way to a 13-3 finish. The AFC West then included the Seattle Seahawks.
The Chiefs started their current streak against the Broncos in 2015. They intercepted Peyton Manning four times in a 29-13 victory at Denver and went on to sweep the Raiders and Chargers.