While Miller’s track record against the Chiefs up to that point in his career had been stellar, it has taken a nosedive since. He’ll have a chance today to try to notch his first win against Kansas City since Week 2 of 2015.
I get it, we all say and do dumb things when we’re in our 20s. It’s a pivotal decade in anyone’s life for development not just physically, mentally, and emotionally, but also socially, financially, and relationally—all of the things that come with the first several years of experiencing the “real world” and further finding yourself. Von Miller‘s twenties were probably about the best you could ask for. From the time he was 22 until he was 26, Miller was an anomaly on the football field.
In his rookie year in 2011, he won Defensive Rookie of the Year while racking up 11.5 sacks helping limp a fairly unimpressive Broncos roster to an 8-8 AFC West Championship. By the time he was 26 he had 60 sacks to his name, 4 Pro Bowl appearances, 4 All-Pro selections, and had been the runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2012.
More importantly, Denver won the AFC West in each of Miller’s first 5 seasons. Denver was 8-2 in their previous 10 against KC. And while the Kansas City Chiefs made the playoffs twice in that span, they never made it past the divisional round. The Broncos won the AFC in 2013 and the Super Bowl in 2015. But something funny happened after an early season win against those “little brother” Chiefs in 2015.
The Tweet that changed the course of AFC West history:
Now, if you choose not to click the tweet in order to figure out who Von Miller is talking about to limit Von’s social media engagements that’s fine, I’ll link it here, but he’s talking about Travis Kelce. Granted, this was pre-Zeus Travis Kelce. This was Travis Kelce before he ascended above mere mortal levels of football prowess. So for Von to be in his mid-20s, naive with a false sense of inflated confidence after how he started his career against the Chiefs, is understandable. But it doesn’t dry the irony dripping off of the words now, even with the benefit of seven historic years of Chiefs football available as hindsight.
Since Miller pressed send on that Tweet, the Chiefs pulled the rug. Miller has only played the Chiefs as a member of the Broncos from 2016-2019, this being his first game against KC as a member of the Bills. We never got to see Von square off against the Chiefs as a Ram, but I can think of a game that KC was halfway home on that could’ve been pretty big. But in those 4 seasons with Denver: 8 games, 8 losses.
In the first game at home against KC in 2016 Miller had 3 sacks in a 30-27 loss, so maybe that’s just one the Chiefs came out and stole in Mile High, right? Since Christmas Day in 2016, Von Miller has had 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 7 losses in 7 games against the Chiefs. Add that to the tight one the Chiefs won to start the 2016 season, and the blowout in Week 9 of 2015 where KC picked off Peyton Manning 4 times and essentially ended his time as a productive NFL quarterback, and Miller is 0 for his last 9 against the Chiefs.
Kansas City has, obviously, won the last 6 AFC West Championships, advanced to and hosted the last 4 AFC Championship games, and won the AFC in 2020 and the Super Bowl in 2019.
But what about “fake Gronk”, Travis Kelce? I’m glad you asked. Since the 2015 season, Travis Kelce actually has the most receptions of any player in the NFL. The next closest tight end on the list is 8th and has over 100 fewer catches than Kelce in that timeframe, and he’s the only other tight end in the top 25, but it’s Zach Ertz, not Rob Gronkowski.
As far as touchdowns go, Kelce is a more modest fourth in the league in the last 7 years with 59. He’s got 6 Pro Bowl selections in the last 6 seasons and has been a first-team All-Pro 3 times and second-team All-Pro 3 times. He’s climbed to 6th all-time in touchdowns receptions in NFL history for tight ends and is also 6th all-time in tight end receptions. He’s first all-time in postseason receptions by a tight end, and second all-time in postseason touchdowns among tight ends. He’s only 3 away from Rob Gronkowski, who played in 22 postseason games compared to Kelce’s 15. So far.
He is 13-0 against Denver and 9-0 against Von Miller since Von decided to tweet that egregious tweet. To say that one blew up in Miller’s face would be an understatement. Kelce’s meteoric rise to a now long-standing place as the gold standard in tight end play in a league loaded with young, talented players will be honored in Canton, OH exactly 4 years after he decides to retire. While Miller’s ultimate destination is likely the same as Kelce’s, he’s got an unavoidable physical and mental roadblock ahead of him if he’s going to win a ring with Buffalo – Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Today will mark the first time we get to see Miller in a jersey that isn’t an atrocious navy blue and orange homage to the late-90s. And he comes to town as a part of a Bills roster that is loaded to the gills, but with the same goal, Miller has tried and failed to accomplish in a long time. But their goal is nothing new. It’s something that a lot of teams have tried to figure out since 2016, but not many have quite cracked the code just yet. The toughest thing to do in the NFL recently, or to do consistently anyway, is beating the Kansas City Chiefs.