AFC stock reports: Chiefs climb, Colts and Patriots fall
The dramatic race for the second seed in the AFC continues as the Kansas City Chiefs put together a win while the Indianapolis Colts fall short.
The Kansas City Chiefs make up some ground in the AFC playoff race in Week 9 with a last-second victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Back to back games without the reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs were able to put together tight games against two NFC North competitors. Losing to the Green Bay Packers last week by seven points was difficult to swallow despite most fans believing they had no business winning that game before kickoff. Fortunately they turned things around with a victory over the Vikings with a last-second field goal.
Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins started off the season slow with plenty of criticism. The offense heavily went through running back Dalvin Cook, who was leading the league in rushing yards coming into Week 9. Cousins was criticized by not only fans and the media, but by his wide receivers coming into October.
October was a new month for Cousins and the Vikings offense as they went 4-0. Through October, Cousins would complete 91 of 116 passes (78.4 percent) for 1,261 yards and 10 touchdowns while only throwing one interception. The turnaround performance would earn the veteran quarterback NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October.
Kansas City brought Minnesota a reality check despite being without a significant amount of starters on both sides of the ball once again. Patrick Mahomes, Kendall Fuller, Frank Clark, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Eric Fisher, and Alex Okafor were all inactive due to injuries. Chris Jones made a return to the defensive line, but not at his usual position. Jones lined up as a defensive end for much of the game as the Chiefs elected to load up the box and stop the running attack.
Despite numerous breakdowns in coverage and easy gains for the Vikings offense on the day, the overall defense showed up in big ways. Holding the number 3 ranked overall offense to 308 yards on Sunday afternoon is what stood out the most when looking at the stats of the game. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs was limited to only one catch while being covered by Charvarius Ward for most of the day. Dalvin Cook was held to a mere 71 yards averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.
Once again, Cousins was unable to deliver when going against a good team with the game on the line. While his stats looked great through October, the looming question remained on whether he could turn a corner and defeat a good team. The injury-plagued Chiefs were able to come up big forcing a three and out and allowed negative-7 yards on the final drive. Matt Moore and the Chiefs offense would move into field goal position to seal the victory in the final seconds.
Kansas City’s victory was not the only interesting story around the AFC. There were plenty of changes and upsets around the conference to keep the race close. The Indianapolis Colts would lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers which would lose them the second seed in the AFC. Following a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, the Houston Texans would move to the second seed and the leader in the AFC South. None of that compares to the Baltimore Ravens dominating the undefeated New England Patriots.
While the Chiefs already had a lead in the AFC West regardless of Sunday’s game, it sure helps given that every team in the West came away with victories. The Los Angeles Chargers put together a second consecutive win upsetting the Green Bay Packers 26-11. With the Oakland Raiders winning over the Detroit Lions and the Denver Broncos defeating the Cleveland Browns, a Chiefs win before Mahomes comes back should ease fans for a week.