Podcast: Defensive timidity costs the Chiefs vs. Raiders

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 19: Jared Cook
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 19: Jared Cook /

On Thursday night in Oakland, the Chiefs created a narrative almost directly opposite of the one built last week. This time, the defense holds the responsibility for the loss.

In the blink of an eye, the Chiefs have gone from the AFC’s clear favorite to one of three AFC teams likely to be 5-2 at the week’s end. The NFL is built for chaos, and the Chiefs have participated in their fair share. But now, I can’t help but wonder if the expectations for the 2017 Chiefs have changed in a five-day span.

The Chiefs are almost certainly going to win 11, 12 or 13 games this year. Anything else would be a stunner, in light of what we’ve seen so far. (I’d put my money on 12.) But in the last two weeks, we’ve seen major flaws come out on either side of the line of scrimmage.

Against the Steelers, the offense deserved the vast, vast majority of the blame. Against the Raiders, the offense had three quarters with 10-point production, and that should have been enough. Thursday night was a defensive problem, where cornerbacks gave the Raider receivers huge cushions of respect and the pass rush never hit Derek Carr (without a penalty negating the effect.)

Sure, the refereeing was bad. Of course, single bad games happen. But the Chiefs have shown problems on both sides of the ball in the last two weeks, and that makes me nervous for January.

It was just one bad game on Sunday. Thursday made it just two. But if either side of the ball fails to produce in the playoffs, “just one game” becomes your season.

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