I was born in the Kansas City metropolitan area in April of 1995. I lived within that general area for the first 23 years of my life. Kansas City’s football team has never won a football game in the postseason in that area during that 23 year span. This, generally, is senseless. This is paradoxical. The Chiefs should not be this bad at home in the playoffs.
Arrowhead Stadium holds a record for being the loudest outdoor stadium in the league – one of the few ways to statistically judge a homefield advantage – and yet, in the past twenty-five years, they’ve only won playoff games outside of that stadium. Since the merger of two leagues that created the modern National Football League in 1971, the Chiefs have as many playoff wins in Houston, Texas (2) as they do in Kansas City. Quantifiably, the Chiefs have the highest homefield advantage by external factors and the worst homefield record by performance. In the hardest place for other teams to win, the Chiefs always seem to lose.
Another fascinating factor in the Chiefs’ playoff paradox is the gulf between their regular season and postseason performances. Since the institution of the modern 12-team playoff bracket in 1990, only four teams earn a week of rest during the Wild Card round. When the Chiefs have earned that bye week (in 1995, 1997, and 2003), they are winless. Their only home playoff win in the modern bracket came in the 1993 Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and their only win in the divisional round came a week later in Houston.
The astounding thing about the Chiefs’ post-bye week failures in my eyes is how difficult it is to earn the playoff bye-week. Only an eighth of the teams in the National Football League are good enough to earn a playoff bye in a given season. To earn a bye week, the Chiefs have had to be in the upper echelon of the NFL over sixteen weeks. To earn a bye-week, the Chiefs have needed a winning percentage of at least 75% over sixteen games. And yet, with that bye week, they’ve never won, their winning percentage drops to zero. Weeks of consistency turn to nothingness over the span of one sixty minute game.
Along with that, the Chiefs’ losses in Arrowhead Stadium are generally even closer than sixty minutes would imply. Of those six home playoff losses, the difference between a win and a loss for the Chiefs was a matter of seven-points or fewer in five of them. One can actually point to specific plays upon which the game swung in several of these losses:
Lake Dawson drops the ball on a late touchdown try in a three-point loss in 1995
Elvis Grbac passes into double coverage on 4th-and-1 in a four-point loss against the Broncos in 1997
Two Penalties force a failed two-point conversion from fifteen-yards out against the Steelers in 2016
Albert Wilson Drops a Late First-Down Conversion against the Tennessee Titans in 2017
What a way to go.
It’s absolutely astounding. Quantifiable homefield advantage. Sustained excellence to get there. Games that come down to success on singular plays. And yet, the Chiefs fail, and fail, and fail.
Today, they get another shot, this time against an Indianapolis Colts team that they’ve never beaten in the playoffs. This year’s team has a potential MVP at quarterback and some excellent playmakers on offense. They’ve won twelve games this season and they’ve set themselves up to play in the loudest stadium in the National Football League. For just about any other team, I’d be fully behind the Chiefs winning this one. But thanks to the years of postseason failures, I can’t help but predict this same same scene playing out again in the stadium in which it always seems to play out.