With One Game Between The Chiefs And The Super Bowl, Here's A Latecomer's Guide To Fandom
Just four quarters, barring any overtime, stand between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Super Bowl. That, and the NFL’s most consistent franchise in a generation in the New England Patriots.
If you’re reading this and already are confused, keep going. Here’s what you’ll want to know when you’re watching Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium (5:40 p.m., CBS).
Kansas City Chiefs, 12-4
Coach — Andy Reid: Six seasons as KC’s head coach, 15 overall as a head coach in the NFL. Questionable with late-game clock management. Participated in a Punt, Pass and Kick competition as a giant 13-year-old.
Quarterback — Patrick Mahomes: 23-year-old first-year full-time starter, aka Showtime. Surpassed Chiefs legend Len Dawson’s franchise record for touchdown passes in a season. Had more passing yards and touchdowns in his first 10 career games than anyone in the NFL since 1950. Five touchdowns short of tying the NFL’s single-season TD passing record. Nice guy. Loves ketchup.
Wide receivers — Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Chris Conley. Wide receivers catch what Mahomes throws at them and snake through the defense. Hill had the fourth-most receiving yards in the NFL during the regular season (1,479).
Running backs — Spencer Ware, Damien Williams, Darrel Williams. Earlier this season, Kareem Hunt was cut. Their job is to run when Mahomes hands them the ball, and sometimes catch a pass.
Tight end — Travis Kelce: Has the most receiving yards in a single season for his position in Chiefs history (1,336). His job is to create space for other members of the offense, and sometimes score.
Defense — As a group, they have the most sacks in the regular season with 52; Chris Jones’ 15.5 sacks were third-most as an individual. And Anthony Hitchens had the fifth-most tackles (135) in the league during the regular season.
Kicker — Harrison Butker: Job is to put the ball between the uprights (goalpost). Does so 89 percent of the time. Longest this season was 54 yards.
New England Patriots, 11-5
Coach — Bill Belichick: 20 seasons as head coach of Patriots, 44 as a head coach in the NFL. Master strategist. Loves hooded sweatshirts. Paid the largest fine in NFL history for illegally videotaping another team’s signals in 2007.
Quarterback — Tom Brady: 19 seasons in the NFL. 41 years old. Perfectionist. Health nut. Married to supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Served a four-game suspension during the 2016 season due to the alleged ball-tampering scandal “Deflategate,” which started during an AFC Championship game.
Wide receivers — Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson.
Running backs — Sony Michel, James Develin, James White, Rex Burkhead.
Tight end — Rob Gronkowski: Also known as Gronk. Nine seasons. Holds NFL record for single-season receiving TDs (17) and receiving yards (1,327) for his position. Goofy.
Defense — No Pats player on the defense ranked in the top five for tackles, sacks or interceptions in the regular season.
Kicker — Stephen Gostkowski. Puts ball through the uprights 84 percent of the time. Longest this season was 52 yards.
The Game, The Stakes
This is important, right?
Whichever team wins the AFC Championship game goes to the Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. The Chiefs haven’t done that since January 1970, when they beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
Who else is playing in the Super Bowl?
The NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams (who used to be across the state of Missouri in St. Louis until a couple of years ago) starts three hours before the Chiefs-Patriots game. So, you’ll find out Sunday.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Kareem Hunt's position.
Freelance sports reporter Greg Echlin and KCUR producer Suzanne Hogan contributed to this report. Erica Hunzinger is an editor for KCUR and Harvest Public Media. Follow her on Twitter: @ehunzinger.