There’s no better weather than football weather, and that’s exactly what we had on Sunday.
Snow sprinkled down on Mile High Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs decided to lay the hammer down on the Denver Broncos in their own house. The Chiefs won to the tune of 43-16, in a game I previously predicted to be a one-point thriller.
Drew Lock didn’t look like a franchise QB, frequently overthrowing receivers and making poor reads. The Chiefs still can’t defend the run. And KSU fans, such as myself, had a pretty good Sunday overall. But, despite the big win, there’s still plenty to talk about.
So, let’s look at what the Chiefs did right, what they did wrong, and what made me want to bury myself in a snowbank.
What Went Right
Steve Spagnuolo’s crew came to PLAY on Sunday.
Or, the secondary did, anyway
In the snowy weather, the Chiefs defense allowed QB Drew Lock to complete 60% of his passes for 254 yards, zero touchdowns, and two picks. One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown by defensive back Daniel Sorensen, the other snagged by safety Tyrann Mathieu off a deflection. CB Bashaud Breeland and DE Tershawn Wharton each forced a fumble for the KC defense as well, showing complete dominance over the Broncos offense.
Fortunately, the defense wasn’t the only thing that shined in this game. Newly-acquired running back Le’Veon Bell looked like his old self, as he led the Chiefs backfield in yards-per-carry with 6.5. Clyde Edwards-Helaire also had a productive day, averaging 5.8 YPC on eight rushes for 46 yards and a score. While it wasn’t the 200+ yard rushing game I expected, the game didn’t call for it. The two showed the excellent tandem they form in the backfield, giving opposing teams yet another threat to deal with.
This was also a great day to be a student or fan of Kansas State University, such as myself. Not only did KSU boast an outstanding performance from Tyler Lockett on Sunday Night Football, but they also had this wonderful gem from Byron Pringle, who went undrafted in 2018 before signing with the Chiefs.
This touchdown set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Chiefs continued to force turnovers and take advantage of short fields. However, the good stops there. The Chiefs won big, but the Broncos beat themselves more than the Chiefs did.
What Went Wrong
Snow games may be Patrick Mahomes’ favorite, but I doubt this game was. The star QB completed 15-of-23 passes for 200 yards and a score — a far cry from the stat line to which we’ve become accustomed from the former MVP. As predicted, the Denver safeties kept the deep ball in check for Mahomes and Co., who largely failed to adjust for most of the game. The shorter fields due to turnovers also reduce his stat-line, which is worth noting.
That said, the box score doesn’t tell the whole story. Mahomes looked incredibly uncomfortable the whole game, and it was very clear he missed LG Kelechi Osemele and RT Mitchell Schwartz. He was sacked a total of four times, three of which came from the interior. Luckily, Schwartz should be back for the Week 8 game against the New York Jets. However, the Chiefs need to fix their interior before the postseason. With teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh as potential matchups in the playoffs, it could very well spell doom for their hope of a repeat championship.
Oh, and one other thing: Harrison Butker needs another talking-to.
I’m not sure if the Ravens game rattled him because of all the “Tucker vs. Butker” talk, but he has been having an awful year by his standards. While, yes, he’s only missed one field goal attempt, he’s also missed five extra point attempts. FIVE. Justin Tucker has missed only one in his career. Butker has missed an extra point in five of the past six games, including in Denver. He needs to work on getting his mojo back so he’s ready for the postseason.
If the Chiefs’ interior line doesn’t kill them, their rush defense will.
Phillip Lindsay rushed nine times for 79 yards at 8.8 YPC before he left with an injury. Melvin Gordon filled in admirably, rushing 17 times for 68 yards and a score. The Chiefs’ defense also consistently failed to wrap up and was frequently blown over. Kansas City, while good at generating turnovers, cannot stop the run. This kind of play style could derail their postseason dreams due to the nature of January football.
At this point, I sound like a broken record about the Chiefs defense — and who knows? Maybe it won’t matter. But, defense wins championships, and Kansas City needs to get their act together.
See you at Arrowhead, Chiefs Kingdom.
(Featured Image Credit: Chiefs.com)