The Chiefs beat Denver to keep pace with Buffalo in the AFC Playoff Race. Even though a win is a win, the Chiefs’ offense turned the ball over three times and the defense couldn’t stop the league’s worst offense.
The Broncos gave the Chiefs quite the scare in what turned out to be a six-point win on Sunday. Kansas City played down to its competition again in what should have been an easy win and give the worst offense in the league it’s’ best showing. While the Chiefs’ offense was only able to stop itself, the offense put up 27 points but Patrick Mahomes was intercepted three times.
The defense was pitching a shutout until the two-minute mark of the first half and then gave up 21 straight points to Russell Wilson and Denver’s offense. The Chiefs have had issues in playing lower-level teams in the league all season, whether it’s some arrogance or feeling safe against these teams.
The Chiefs still came out with a win against a Denver team that is now eliminated from playoff contention and essentially secured their sixth-straight AFC West Title. With a tough win and the defense struggling, here are my takeaways from the Chiefs’ win over the Denver Broncos
The Chiefs’ Defense is a Roller Coaster
The Chiefs’ defense has had its trouble executing a competent defense all season, sometimes they are dominant and other times they cannot stop any basic plays. Recently, they have been playing like they couldn’t stop a cold. They started off playing great, forcing punts on four straight drives by the Broncos and intercepting Russell Wilson for a touchdown.
Then the defense was put into multiple tough spots against the Broncos due to three Patrick Mahomes interceptions and allowed 14 points off of them in 3 minutes. They then got gashed for significant plays all afternoon against the worst offense in the league.
The Chiefs’ defense had moments of greatness, sacking Russell Wilson and Brett Rypien six times, intercepting them twice, and showing flashes of dominance throughout the game. But the lack of consistency in spots has many worried about this unit come playoff time.
The Turnovers are Getting Concerning
The Chiefs’ offense has had one consistent issue for the past eight weeks, they’ve had one or more turnovers. It’s been an issue that wasn’t much of a concern because they won six of those eight games, now it’s starting to worry a lot of people around the league since they’ve struggled the past two weeks. Some people are sayings it’s just a Mahomes issue, it’s more of a timing and play issue.
Some of these interceptions were either incompletions or catches, and there are just some wacky fumbles. The ball security around the team is an issue, Travis Kelce had his first fumble in over a season against Cincinnati, Jerick McKinnon had his first fumble as a Chiefs against the Chargers, and Patrick Mahomes threw the most interceptions in the game since the Super Bowl last week.
The Chiefs need to be better at holding onto the ball, and it needs to be better as we head toward the New Year.
Isiah Pacheco Needs More Snaps
Isiah Pacheco earned his starting role, he’s averaging over four yards per carry and he runs like every run will be his last. But something happened against Denver which shouldn’t happen going forward, Jerick McKinnon had more snaps than Pacheco on running downs. Jerick McKinnon had an incredible game through the air against the Broncos, but he wasn’t too effective in running the ball.
The fact that Pacheco only had two runs in the second half is just baffling, McKinnon gives you a swiss army knife at running back but Isiah Pacheco is a buck knife and he needs more touches. Isiah Pacheco literally won the game with his second rush of the second half, something which sounds ridiculous.
Pacheco needs to just play more, limiting his snaps when he’s the best running back on the team is not going to help the Chiefs win football games. McKinnon has been great in stretches, but they need to trust the rookie to make the right play. Also, the Chiefs are running the ball with the best YPC over the past two weeks, and they might want to run the ball more because they are really good at it.
Patrick Mahomes is Fine
Sometimes the Gunslinger gets shot, that’s what you get when you have a Gunslinger Quarterback like Patrick Mahomes. Patrick Mahomes is fine, he threw three interceptions for the first time in a long time and all three interceptions were weird for him. The first interception was due to a hesitation in throwing to Travis Kelce, the second was a great play by Patrick Surtain Jr, and the last one was another hesitation throw to JuJu.
All three interceptions are still turnovers though, Mahomes knows he needs to play better in these spots, and he even admitted it.
But there’s no real worry with Mahomes, he still plays winning football. Even with the turnovers, he had 350 yards and three touchdowns, and all three touchdowns were great plays by the quarterback, none more impressive than this throw to Jerick McKinnon.
Mahomes may not be the favorite for the MVP anymore, but he still is playing great football and it’s only time to worry about this type of play if it continues.