The 1980 Kansas City Chiefs season ended with an 8–8 record, the most wins for the franchise since an 8-6 season in 1972, but no playoff berth.
Beginning the new decade, the Chiefs selected guard Brad Budde, the son of Chiefs Hall of Fame guard Ed Budde, as the team's first-round draft choice, making the Buddes the first father-son combination to become first-round draftees of the same team in NFL history. In a then-controversial move on August 26, the Chiefs released placekicker Jan Stenerud, who at the time was club’s all-time leading scorer. He was replaced by journeyman Nick Lowery, who had been cut 11 times by eight different teams himself.
After enduring an 0-4 start, the club rebounded to post a four-game winning streak. After Steve Fuller was sidelined with a knee injury late in the season, former Miami 12th-round draft choice Bill Kenney became the team's starting quarterback. He was so anonymous that when he appeared in that contest, the name on the back of his jersey was inadvertently misspelled “Kenny.” Kenney went on to lead the club to a 31-14 victory against Denver on December 7 in his initial NFL start. The defense continued to evolve as defensive end Art Still and safety Gary Barbaro became the first Chiefs defensive players to be elected to the Pro Bowl in five seasons. The Chiefs finished the year at 8-8, the club’s highest victory tally since 1972.