Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Clinch 6th Straight AFC West Title with Win over Steelers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 27, 2021

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

The Kansas City Chiefs are AFC West champions for the sixth consecutive year.

Kansas City clinched the division title Sunday with a blowout 36-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Actually clinching the division felt like something of a long shot coming into the Sunday schedule, considering the Chiefs also needed the Houston Texans to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers. Nonetheless, that upset happened in the early slate.

Houston had four scoring drives in the fourth quarter, three of which were touchdowns, to stun the Chargers 41-29.

That set the stage for Patrick Mahomes and Co. to secure a division title with a win over the Steelers, and they wasted no time seizing control on both sides of the ball.

Kansas City scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions to jump out to a 23-0 halftime lead. Mahomes threw touchdowns to Byron Pringle and Mecole Hardman, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire added another score on the ground to all but put the game away before intermission.

The second half was largely a formality, and Mahomes finished the game completing 23 of 30 passes for 258 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

It wasn't just the offense that played well, as the defense shut down Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers when the game was still hanging in the balance.

That the Chiefs are division champions with a loaded roster that features Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and more isn't surprising. However, the path they took surely wasn't what they envisioned coming into the season.

The two-time defending AFC champions started 3-4, and it was fair to wonder if the recent stretch of dominance was coming to an end when they lost 27-3 to the Tennessee Titans in Week 7.

All they have done since is win eight games in a row to not only win the AFC West but also position themselves atop the conference in the race for the AFC's only first-round bye and home-field advantage until the Super Bowl.

While the Titans, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots could pose as threats to the Chiefs, it is difficult to imagine anyone else being seen as the favorite in the AFC should Kansas City secure home-field advantage and continue playing at such an elevated level.