No team has had heavier workload than KC Chiefs since 2017, but they’re not complaining

·3 min read
Rich Sugg/rsugg@kcstar.com

The NFL’s addition of a 17th game this season was a new wrinkle for every team. But no team has played more games over the past four seasons than the Chiefs.

Three straight trips to the AFC Championship Game and a pair of Super Bowl appearances means the Chiefs will be playing their 75th game in four seasons Sunday when host the Buffalo Bills in an AFC Divisional Game at Arrowhead Stadium.

That’s 10 more than a team that missed the postseason during that four-year span.

Chiefs players have embraced the extra workload but also realize it comes at a price.

“Yeah, I think at the end of the day it is a blessing to be able to work another week or get another week’s paycheck, you know what I mean?” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “But you just have to be conscious of it, you’ve got to put your body in the right situation. You know, obviously, there’s a lot of different things that you can do. But I think one of the most important things is just drinking water and then resting when you can.

“But it’s been a blessing, man, to play as many games as we played. But obviously you have to stay on top of your body a bit more.”

Speaking on ESPN’s “Man In The Arena” earlier this month, Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski said he was happy to get a one-game suspension during the 2017 season for delivering a dirty hit.

Gronkowski was with the Patriots at that time and they were in the midst of appearing in three Super Bowls in as many seasons. Getting a week off to rest was a huge blessing because all those games were taking a toll on him physically.

Of course, Gronkowski wouldn’t have felt that way if his week off had come during the postseason.

For Kansas City’s star tight end, Travis Kelce, the extra workload the past four seasons is outweighed by the magnitude of the games in which the Chiefs have been able to play.

“Man, I’m just juiced up to get another week to play football,” he said. “I don’t think about any of those kinds of things.

“At this point in the season, everybody’s dealing with something in terms of like discomfort or injury or just trying to power through some things that might be nagging on them. And, from there, you’ve just got to work through it, make sure that you stick to the fundamentals and the routines that you’ve had all season.”

As Mathieu indicated, though, playing so many games has demanded a constant vigilance.

“Try not to fall astray to a lot of the little things that you do, so that you can just go out there and fly around and have fun then,” Kelce said. “When you’re in the playoffs, you don’t make any excuses like what’s happened in past, man, you just you put your head down and you just go.”

Kelce hasn’t missed any of the Chiefs’ postseason games over the previous four seasons. Ditto for Mathieu since he arrived in KC in 2019. Mathieu gave credit to coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs’ staff for making sure he and his teammates remain in top physical condition.

The Chiefs’ weekly preparation is a big part of Mathieu’s sterling record of health through the playoffs.

“I think for me, my body has been feeling really well, especially the last couple seasons going into the playoffs,” Mathieu said. “I think our staff here do a great job of kind of us not peaking too early in the week, allowing us to get to the games with some fresh legs. So I think it’s mostly been a blessing to be able to do it.”

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