When the 2023 NFL schedule was announced in May, the Chiefs’ second half — the November and December games — looked more formidable than the first.
The Chiefs would meet four teams that reached the 2022 playoffs on both ends of the slate, but the second half included the Super Bowl opponent Philadelphia Eagles and AFC Championship Game foe Cincinnati Bengals, as well as the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers.
It remains to be seen which half will prove to be more difficult, but there is one aspect of the schedule’s back half that is clearly a disadvantage for the Chiefs.
They’ll get less rest than their opponent for six consecutive games, a streak that started with Sunday’s 31-17 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Last week, the Chiefs were coming off a Monday Night Football game, while the Raiders played on Sunday. That was one day less rest for the Chiefs.
This week, when the Chiefs travel to the Green Bay Packers for a Sunday Night Football game, the Packers will not have played since Thanksgiving.
Warren Sharp, an analyst and founder of Sharp Football Stats and Sharp Football Analysis, wrote about NFL schedules after they were announced in May and first noted the Chiefs’ rest disparity.
“(F)or there to be six games in a row where they are dealing with (most often) multiple days rest disadvantage, and for them to come late in the season as they do, will be extremely challenging on the Chiefs,” Sharp wrote.
Here’s how the schedule after this weekend plays out:
On Dec. 10, the Chiefs have a home game against the Bills, who will be coming off their bye week.
When the Chiefs play at New England on Dec. 18, a Monday, the Patriots will be coming off a Thursday game.
On Dec. 25, a Monday, the Raiders will be coming off a Thursday game.
In the Week 17 home game against the Bengals, the Chiefs will be coming off a Monday game, Cincinnati a Saturday game.
It adds up to 20 days less rest for the Chiefs from Week 12 to the end of the season. Sharp wrote that such a stretch hasn’t happened to an NFL team in 35 years.
Chiefs are next
this is SHOCKING
KC plays 6 STRAIGHT GAMES with less rest than their opponent
late in the year (Wk 12-17), EVERY SINGLE GAME the Chiefs play is at a rest disadvantage
I researched back 35 years, never happened before
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) May 16, 2023
Chiefs safety Justin Reid said ideally all teams would enter a game with the same amount of rest days. But that’s not possible with NFL schedules stretching from Thursday through Monday.
“There are benefits to having consistency and having a regular schedule instead of jumping back and forth,” Reid said.
Andy Reid said a schedule without consistent periods of rest comes with being one of the NFL’s most successful and popular teams.
“When you’ve been a good football team you’re going to have those kinds of schedules,” he said.
Helping the Chiefs address rest — along with behavioral health, wellness and performance psychology — with players, coaches and staff is Dr. Shaun Tyrance, the team’s vice president of player services and assessment.
“It starts at training camp, preparing yourself, making sure you’re taking care of your body and (getting) your sleep,” Andy Reid said. “It should work out OK.”
Reid said that Tyrance spoke to the team on Tuesday about managing sleep. By the time the Chiefs return from Green Bay, they’ll have lost several hours of preparation time for the following week. And the next opponent, Buffalo, will not have played this weekend.
“It’s cool to hear Dr. T talk about sleep and how much benefit you get from sleep,” Patrick Mahomes said. “I’m kind of one of those night owls. I like to stay up late. I force myself to go to sleep.”
The more important rest time — and one the Chiefs have enjoyed four times in the past five years — is the week that comes after the regular season for being the top-seeded team in the AFC (or before 2021, having one of the top two seeds).
“That bye week before the playoffs is definitely an advantage,” Justin Reid said.