Kansas City’s Week 11 matchup might be their toughest yet. While it may be the most anticipated game of the NFL season, there is still plenty of ways that this 12th meeting between these two historical franchises may turn ugly for either side…and it all starts with looking at the stats.
The Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) host the Dallas Cowboys (7-2) for just the fifth time in the 52 years that they have been pitted together. In those five meetings, the Chiefs have posted a 3-2 record with the most recent being Andy Reid’s first home win as head coach of Kansas City.
Sadly, outside of Arrowhead, the Chiefs have only brought back a single victory which brings KC to just a 4-7 record against the only other NFL team to ever reside in Dallas.
That’s right, the Kansas City Chiefs were once the Dallas Texans until the late, great owner Lamar Hunt moved them to Missouri so they wouldn’t have to compete with the Cowboys for fans within the major city in Texas.
The Dallas v. Dallas “rivalry” has always been a date that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the Hunt family have circled on the calendar. It even has its own trophy–much like many historic NCAA rivalries–called the Preston Road Trophy (pictured below).
Preston Road was the street that both Jerry Jones and Lamar Hunt lived on back when the idea came about in 1988. Since then the Chiefs and Cowboys have played nine games and exchanged the trophy six times over the results of preseason and regular-season games.
Lamar Hunt and the Chiefs won the trophy first 33 years ago but Jones and the Cowboys currently own the Preston Road trophy and have since their last matchup in 2017 when Alex Smith and the Chiefs lost 28-17 despite some highlight-reel plays like Tyreek Hill’s “Hill Mary” as the clock hit 0:00 before halftime (below).
This 2021 Chiefs team and this “Preston Road Rivalry” week is a completely different story though…for plenty of reasons.
For starters all the previous Kansas City teams that Dallas has lined up against never had Patrick Mahomes under center, nor did they have #1 ranked rookie and #1 ranked center Creed Humphrey snapping the ball.
Also, the Cowboys have–for the most part–played against very shoddy and poor Chiefs defenses in recent games. For example, the 2017 Chiefs squad that Dallas put away by double-digits had the worst-ranked defense in 1st downs allowed (352), they allowed the 3rd-most passing yards (3,952) and allowed the 5th-most yards (5,842) in the entire NFL.
This year’s defense in Kansas City has been the main topic of conversation considering they have given up the 3rd-most passing yards (2,586) and the 4th-most touchdowns (30) but the past three games have really shown what Steve Spagnuolo’s defense can look like at its ceiling.
Over the Chiefs’ current three-game winning streak their defense has finally woken up. During the streak, KC has allowed only 218.7 passing yards per game (13th best) and 300 total yards per game (8th best)–definitely some room to grow but a major jump from previous weeks.
There is obviously something to say about the opponents during this streak: the New York Giants without four-fifths of their weapons, the Green Bay Packers without Aaron Rodgers, and the Raiders with a fresh interim coach and a tragic distraction that led them to cut their best receiver.
That should not take away from the fact that Spagnuolo’s defense has improved drastically, allowing only 12.7 ppg over the past three games compared to their 31.6 ppg during the seven games before.
Because of the Chiefs’ defense finally allowing Mahomes to win without scoring 32 points there is hope that Dallas and their top-three offense could leave Kansas City with a loss in the record book for the fifth time in 51 years.
That is if the Chiefs watch the correct players and play smart against certain defensive looks. So far the Chiefs have struggled against two-high defensive schemes but Dallas primarily plays man coverage and Cover 3 ever since Dan Quinn came in as defensive coordinator this offseason.
The Chiefs can thrive against this Dallas defense much like the Denver Broncos did in Arlington a few weeks ago when they went up 30-0 before letting off the gas in the fourth quarter…but only if Mahomes takes the opportunities given to him down low like he did last week.
In last week’s game against the Raiders Mahomes finally took what was given to him and threw it short which led to 40+ points for only the second time this season. Mahomes went 27/31 (87.1%) on passes below nine yards (including passes behind the L.O.S.) which accumulated 249 yards and two of his five TDs.
Dallas will see this and attempt to shut down the deep ball better than they did last season, but Mahomes seems ready and willing to take the shorter dump-offs and check-downs.
No matter how the Chiefs’ defense plays early in the game it is important that Kansas City gets off to an early lead and does their best to keep it against likely CPOTY Dak Prescott and their lethal offense, otherwise, Mahomes could be forced to throw deep more often and therefore would be prone to more mistakes like he was earlier in the season.
Either way, the Preston Road trophy game is looking to be one of the best games of the NFL season and could very easily be a preview of the Super Bowl if Kansas City continues to get better and Dallas continues to be surgical on offense and ruthless on defense.