KANSAS CITY, Mo.
As far as the numbers are concerned, the Bill Belichick-Andy Reid matchup isn’t close.
Belichick has five Super Bowl rings as a head coach. Reid has none.
Belichick is the third-winningest coach in NFL history with 261 regular-season victories. Reid is eighth with 195.
Belichick is 29-11 in the postseason with eight Super Bowl appearances. Reid is 12-13 and has been to only one Super Bowl — losing to Belichick in Super Bowl XXXIX after the 2004 season, when Reid coached the Eagles.
Belichick is 6-2 against Reid, including 2-0 in the playoffs.
Statistically, it’s simply not a fair fight. But as the two coaches prepare for their latest battle in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium, Reid may be in the best position yet to beat his coaching nemesis.
With Patrick Mahomes coming off an MVP season in his first year as a starting quarterback, and with home-field advantage earned by virtue of a 12-4 regular-season record, the circumstances could be just right for Reid to conquer Belichick and get the Chiefs to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1969 season.
Then again, Belichick might just pull off yet another in a series of playoff victories that make him arguably the greatest coach of all time.
It’s Reid vs. Belichick in a battle of wits that will determine who goes to Atlanta to face the winner of the Saints-Rams NFC Championship Game.
Ask Reid, though, and the storyline isn’t quite as personal as him against Belichick.
“Yeah, it’s not about me,” Reid said. “That’s first of all. We’re doing this as a team and every team’s different and I get caught up in that part. You end up loving the guys you’re coaching, and this is a unique group, so I’m always pulling for them, and whatever happens happens. I’m good with that. I love what I’m doing.”
Humility aside — and Reid is one of the most self-effacing people you’ll ever meet — he really is a big reason for the team’s success. He not only has turned the Chiefs into a perennial playoff team since being hired in 2013 but has created this moment with his brilliant work in so quickly developing Mahomes into a dominant quarterback in his first season as a starter.
Mahomes is unquestionably one of the most physically gifted passers, but his meteoric ascent is as much a credit to Reid’s coaching as it is to the second-year quarterback. Reid has been accused of being too conservative in his play-calling through much of his tenure in Philadelphia with Donovan McNabb and in Kansas City during his days with Alex Smith. But now that he has a quarterback with a strong arm and a brilliant football IQ to match, Reid has shown much more derring-do as a play-caller with Mahomes.
The Chiefs have a terrific cast of skill players featuring All-Pro wideout Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and capable receivers Chris Conley and Sammy Watkins. And despite the release of running back Kareem Hunt after a video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman, Reid’s offense has thrived, even against some of the toughest defenses around.
Case in point: Mahomes overcame a shaky start against the Patriots in October to ring up 40 points on Belichick’s defense, although the Patriots escaped with a 43-40 victory at Gillette Stadium. But the rematch is at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Chiefs’ defense will be bolstered by Justin Houston, who teams with Dee Ford to form one of the league’s best pass rushes.
If Mahomes is the kind of difference-maker in this game that he has been all season, Reid stands a fighting chance against his coaching archrival.
“Listen, I’m coming from [Brett] Favre and Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb, so those guys, they would do some crazy things, too,” Reid said when asked about Mahomes. “But he does do a nice job with all that. He’s a special kid, too. I appreciate the person as much as all that stuff, the way he goes about his job for being such a young guy. He works at it, and I love that.”
He’ll love it even more if Mahomes plays with composure against Belichick’s defense and gives the Chiefs — and their coach — a ticket to Super Bowl LIII.