There’s been a lot of talk about the Kansas City Chiefs defense lately, but ultimately the fate of the Chiefs season rests on the arm of Patrick Mahomes.
The Kansas City Chiefs are heading into week 16 of the NFL season with an 11-3 record and a chance to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. While there have been heartbreaking loses (like last week’s), the Chiefs have had a terrific season thus far. After 14 regular season games, teams are what they are. Hoping for some drastic change in the final weeks or playoffs will only set you up for disappointment. With that in mind, I think there are two undeniable truths that we now know about the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs.
1. Patrick Mahomes is an absolute prodigy at quarterback and has been the most dynamic playmaker in the entire NFL this season.
2. The Kansas City Chiefs have a really bad defense.
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These really aren’t opinions. They aren’t up for debate. Patrick Mahomes is having one of the greatest seasons for any quarterback in the history of the NFL. He’s been absolutely sensational. He’s on pace to throw for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns while completing 67% of his passes for about 8.8 yards per attempt. His numbers are so remarkable that he could literally not take another snap this season and he would still have one of the ten best statistical seasons of all time for a quarterback.
Patrick Mahomes is everything that Chiefs fans have been dreaming of for decades (if not longer). Yes, he has a great offensive minded coach that has helped him along the way and comes up with new and unique plays to help him succeed. Yes, he has a talented offensive team around him with guys like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce that also play a key part in his success. But at the end of the day the reason the Kansas City Chiefs have been so special on offense is because of Patrick Mahomes. Period.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Kansas City Chiefs defense is really bad. They aren’t just bad, they’re REALLY bad. Again, this isn’t up for debate. The Chiefs are going into Week 16 of the NFL season giving up an average of 409.4 yards and 27.1 points per game. That’s not middle of the road or near the bottom of the league. Those numbers make KC one of the worst defenses in the National Football League. Period.
Now, we can sit here and hope that Eric Berry getting back into the lineup makes them less awful, but he won’t make them good. That isn’t happening. Maybe he helps them go from being one of the absolute worst defenses in the NFL to just bad. That would be something I guess, but the Chiefs aren’t going to win in January because of their defense. They just aren’t.
We can complain about Bob Sutton. We can scream from the rooftops that he needs to be fired. That isn’t happening during the season. The Chiefs aren’t revamping their defense and scheme this late in the game. It’s a valid debate to have this offseason but in terms of how the playoffs shake out the Chiefs are going to keep running out this same defense. Expecting otherwise is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
That’s what baffled me most about many fans reaction to the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Fans everywhere were livid at the defense. People seemed outraged that the defense could let this team down like that.
I hate to break it to everyone but that defense that “lost” them the Chargers game is the exact same defense that the Chiefs had in their 11 wins this season. They didn’t play any worse in this loss. In fact, I can make an argument that it was one of their better performance against an elite quarterback this year. In their four games prior against Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Jared Goff they allowed an average of 40.5 points per game. At least this time it was only 29 points and they had five sacks and a couple of turnovers.
Again, I’m not saying the Chiefs defense was good because they weren’t. But the Chiefs blueprint to win this season is that Patrick Mahomes and the offense put up ridiculous video game-like numbers that forces the opposing team to try and keep pace and then the Chiefs can turn loose the one good part of their defense which is the pass rush.
The Chiefs started this last game with their regular offensive fireworks, jumping out to a 14-0 lead but after that they became very pedestrian. In fact, in four of the remaining six drives after that early lead they went for four plays or less and only averaged 1:24 of game time on those drives. If they just extend one of those drives the Chargers don’t have time for that final drive.
Again, I’m not saying the offense was worse than the defense. I’m just saying that the defense did what it always does and the offense wasn’t it’s regular explosive self. You can yell at the defense for not being good but that’s like yelling at a 1982 Chevy Nova for not being a brand new Mercedes. Do I wish that the Chiefs defense wasn’t a 1982 Chevy Nova? Sure I do. Do I hope they do something to improve it this offseason? Of course, but I’m done with losing sleep over them being bad this season because that isn’t going to change.
So does that mean the Chiefs have no hope this season?
No, it doesn’t and that’s because of one Patrick Lavon Mahomes II.
Mahomes has proven himself to be that special. He makes plays that quite possibly no other quarterback in the NFL can make. He’s been simply unbelievable this season and I refuse to write him off. Is it fair to put our playoff hopes on a 23 year old first time starting quarterback? Probably not, but at this point of the season there simply isn’t anything else we can do.
So I’ve decided I’m going to enjoy the ride the rest of the season. I’m not going to let the defense take away from my enjoyment of what Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the offense has done this season. If the Chiefs can go into Seattle on Sunday night and beat the Seahawks they will only have the Oakland Raiders standing between them and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
If Patrick Mahomes can continue his magical run into the playoffs he gives the Chiefs a chance. If he’s putting up big points and the Arrowhead crowd is rocking and the defense is able to turn loose their pass rush this team has a chance to beat anyone in the NFL. I certainly won’t hold it against him if he has an off day and the Chiefs lose. He is a 23 year old first time starter after all, but at least Patrick Mahomes gives the Chiefs a chance.
That’s more than we could say about this team in a very, VERY long time.