The Kansas City Chiefs shined on Sunday Night Football when they routed the Raiders by a final score of 41-14 to take first place in the AFC West. Although Patrick Mahomes dominated with five touchdown passes, the defense’s performance deserves high praise as well.
The Chiefs’ defense has played very well as of late. In the first five games of the season, the Chiefs allowed 32.6 points per game, going 2-3 during that stretch. The last five games tell a very different story as the Chiefs defense has surrendered just 15.6 points per game during the team’s 4-1 run. During Kansas City’s three-game winning streak, the defense is giving up just 12.7 points per game.
There are multiple reasons for the defense’s recent surge. One major difference is the Chiefs going from Dan Sorensen to Juan Thornhill at one of the safety positions. Sorensen was playing 90 percent or more of the defensive snaps in each of the first five games. After constantly allowing wide-open touchdown plays and a plethora of missed tackles, the Chiefs made the change going into Week 6. Since then, Sorensen has seen either 50 percent or less of the defensive snaps.
After a very rough start for the Kansas City Chiefs defense, the defense is playing some of its best football in recent weeks.
Another noticeable difference during this winning streak is the rise of the pass rush. Last week, we mentioned how important Kansas City’s pass rush would be going into Sunday night’s game in Las Vegas. Frank Clark, Chris Jones, and newly acquired Melvin Ingram have been playing well lately. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has come up with ways for his defense to get to opposing quarterbacks, putting pressure on them and forcing them to throw the ball away.
It is important to be fair and note that the defense has had it easy in a couple of their games recently. For instance, Daniel Jones of the New York Giants is still progressing while Packers quarterback Jordan Love had his first career start against the Chiefs. Even so, there was still not a lot of optimism that the Chiefs’ defense would play well.
Unlike Jones and Love, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is a veteran quarterback and has played very well in 2021 as he is in the top five in the NFL in passing yards. The Chiefs held Carr’s offense to just 14 points and came away with two turnovers.
Regardless of experience, the Chiefs have faced different kinds of quarterbacks recently and have found a way to keep them quiet. The defense faces another test on Sunday against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. It will be interesting to see what Spagnuolo will come up with to try to keep his defense on the right track. If the Chiefs’ defense succeeds again, many around the league will be talking about this defense.