Here are a few takeaways from the Chiefs win over the Panthers in Week 9.
We would understand if the roles were reversed.
The Kansas City Chiefs withstood everything the Carolina Panthers could possibly muster as head coach Matt Rhule’s team emptied the idea bank and then some with every possible attempt to trip up the Chiefs and gain some sort of momentum. It’s akin to the bettor putting all of his money on double-zero in roulette on every spin, hoping with a single move that he can gain some incredible leverage.
It didn’t work, of course.
In the Chiefs nail-biter of a win over the Panthers in Week 9, Carolina went for it on fourth down three times (and converted all three). They faked a punt and tried a couple onside kicks. They never settled for field goals unless they absolutely had to, and even tried an NFL record 67-yard field goal to win. Instead they lost by two points in a closer-than-expected 33-31 win at Arrowhead for Andy Reid and company.
The Chiefs have seen this before.
Coming into this game the Chiefs had already faced 13 fourth-down conversion attempts in a single half-season. It’s been that way since Patrick Mahomes took over as quarterback. In 2017, Alex Smith‘s final season with the team. the Chiefs faced 17 fourth-down attempts to convert all year. In 2018, that number climbed to 27 and it was even higher in 2019 with 31. This year, the Chiefs are up to 16 with 7 more games to go.
Simply put, opposing teams know they have to throw the kitchen sink at the Chiefs if they are going to win. That means trying to get away with some penalties and playing a little overly physical. They’re going to use all four downs to move the chains, and they’re going to go for 6 instead of 3. They’re going to eschew giving the ball back in hopes of keeping it away from Mahomes as much as possible. It’s all frustrating, but it’s also entirely understandable.
When a team finally is able to break through and beat the Chiefs, they treat it as if they’ve won the Super Bowl. The Las Vegas Raiders shocked the Chiefs in Week 5 with a 40-point showing at Arrowhead. It was enough to beat the Chiefs by 8 points, and the Raiders even took an extra victory lap around the Chiefs home stadium before going back to the airport. It meant that much. (They’re also that lame.)
The reality is that the Chiefs are going to face an opponent’s best each and every week, not only because the NFL is ultra-competitive as it is, but an ability to knock off the defending Super Bowl champion is always going to bring out the best in an elite competitor. Coaches and players alike have their respective dates with the Chiefs circled on the calendar well before the season begins.
The Chiefs are now 8-1, so they’re used to watching an opponent try everything they can to defeat them. As fans, we should make every effort to remember the same, that we would also be begging our favorite team to scratch or claw—anything—in the name of doing what it takes to defeat the NFL’s best. The Panthers did just that and there’s plenty more to come from the teams left on the Chiefs’ schedule.
Let’s look at a few other takeaways from Week 9’s win.