The Kansas City Chiefs shouldn’t be a cause for concern. They’re the best team, with the best record, with the best players, and the best head coach-offensive coordinator duo; they’re simply the best. The Chiefs can likely repeat as Super Bowl champions while quarterback Patrick Mahomes wins the NFL’s MVP award (and potentially another Super Bowl MVP award to boot).
But… but Kansas City has had some questionably close games. Since the team blew out the New York Jets, 35-9, in Week 8, they have won seven consecutive one-possession games. Some of those close wins were against a three-win Carolina Panthers team, the four-win Denver Broncos, and, most recently, a four-win Atlanta Falcons team. The latter, a Week 16 victory to push Kansas City to 14-1, was a mere three-point game. Kansas City walked away with the win, in part, because Falcons kicker, Younghoe Koo, missed a game-tying field goal in the final seconds of play.
Kansas City is winning close against bad teams, and all it takes in this league is to be caught once. Mahomes, who was once the predictable MVP winner but has now made the race tighter with this string of close wins, hasn’t looked—or played—like the quarterback we know to fill us with shock and awe week in and week out. In Kansas City’s 32-29 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 15, Mahomes averaged a mere 5.4 yards per attempt. It was the worst single-game average of his three-year career. There wasn’t a huge pause taken after this, however. The Saints have one of the better pass defenses. If Mahomes were to struggle, it should be against a team of that caliber. But he followed last week’s performance averaging 6.3 yards against the Falcons. It was the second-lowest single-game average of the season and the fourth-lowest in his career. There’s no justifying this against an Atlanta defense that has allowed the fifth-most passing yards in the NFL.
“I've got to focus on fixing the things I made mistakes on during the game,” Mahomes told NFL media. This was after he threw an interception against the Falcons for his fourth in the last three games. “There was a lot of reads, a lot of protection calls, a lot of adjustments at the line of scrimmage that I made wrong or that I didn't make the right way that put us in bad positions and so I've got to focus on getting myself better to help out the team.
“There was stuff that I didn't see that I usually do, and so there were some times that I was [under pressure] in the game because I didn't slide the line the right way. There were some times I checked to certain plays and they weren't open, and so you got to be better if you want to win football games in this league.”
But… but it’s Mahomes. Similar to some of the other great passers scattered throughout the league, when the game is on the line or when an offense needs to charge down the field for a momentum-changing score, there’s no one a team would rather have under center. This is precisely why there’s no true reason for concern. There’s no cause for panic. Kansas City, which has continued to win, is playing throw-away games awaiting its welcomed bye in the playoffs.
Defenses still have a difficult time stopping both the passing and rushing attack, largely led by rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (who should be back for the playoffs) and Mahomes. While everyone continues to gush about the offense that includes one of the best tight ends (ever), Travis Kelce, and wide receiver options in Tyreek Hill, the defense has been equally as good. This unit, powered by a handful of rookies, allowed the third-fewest points against the Falcons, who, despite their own woes, have put up an average of 24.6 points this season. Kansas City was able to hold the Saints just below their average the previous week as well. This certainly isn’t the best unit, giving up an average of 354.5 yards per game, but these are all good indicators that the defense can support Mahomes’ efforts in the postseason—and with one goal in mind, repeating as Super Bowl champions, that should be enough for Kansas City
There is no other AFC team that can contend with Kansas City. There’s no other team in the NFL that can truly contend with Kansas City. This team would need to beat itself in order to lose, and even at its most questionable moments—the season-low point total, or the head-scratching interceptions, or the gutsy plays Mahomes can’t quite execute like usual—it’s still in a league of its own.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022