The Kansas City Chiefs made headlines Sunday night even though the team’s season ended weeks ago. The Chiefs had the most players of any team at the NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu and Chiefs linebacker, Derrick Johnson, finished the night by taking home an award as the game’s Defensive MVP. Johnson was just one of the Chiefs’ 10 Pro Bowlers in last night’s game.
Ten Pro Bowlers, yet the team failed to win a playoff game. Logically, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. The Chiefs had a quarterback, running back, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, punt returner, safety and three linebackers participating in the Pro Bowl. And, as I said, they couldn’t find a way to win a playoff game.
So what does it all mean? Ten Pro Bowlers – ten guys that are supposedly at or near the top of their positions – and yet the Chiefs went 1-6 against teams that ended the season with a winning record. Individual talent is great, but what does it matter if the talent doesn’t amount to playoff victories?
The Chiefs aren’t necessarily unique in this situation. In fact, it’s fairly common. Looking at teams in the top 2 of their conference for most Pro Bowlers since 2000, only the 2011 Packers, 2003 Buccaneers and 2000 Rams went on to win the Super Bowl. It doesn’t end there. On the other hand, of the 56 teams included in the study, 34 didn’t make it past the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
In short, the Chiefs aren’t the only team that has fallen prey to the illusion of individual talent; it’s been eating at NFL franchises for more than a decade. The Minnesota Vikings have been in the top two of the NFC for Pro Bowlers in four of the last six seasons. That’s amounted to two Wild Card losses, a Conference Championship loss and a year in which they missed the playoffs entirely. The Chiefs are on a similar trajectory if they don’t right the ship soon.