KC Chiefs deserve more credit than fans are giving them

Sep 25, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid (left) talks with quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid (left) talks with quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

No one expected the Denver Broncos to put 28 points on the Chiefs and lose by just 6 points on Sunday, but is the concern of the fanbase much adieu about nothing? 

When Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr picked off Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson on a spectacular tipped pass with a little over four minutes to go in the first half, tight end Travis Kelce’s face said it all.

What happened from there conjured up the exact opposite emotions. From that point, the Chiefs were outscored by the Broncos 28-7 and escaped with a narrow 34-28 win in Denver.

Sure, it was a heated divisional affair that inevitably would end close, but the problem lies in how the game was so close. The Broncos, who were averaging 13.8 points per game coming into the Week 14 matchup, scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions following Gay’s pick-six. The first two—both off of Patrick Mahomes interceptions—took a total of 2 minutes and 15 seconds of game time and went a total of 102 yards. The third touchdown to open the second half made the Broncos’ offense look a lot more like the Chiefs’ traditionally prolific offensive unit rather than a group averaging the fewest points in a regular season since the AFL/NFL merger.

What happened? How did we get here? Many people were pointing the finger at Steve Spagnuolo and the Chiefs’ defense on Sunday; others pointed out the obvious that Patrick Mahomes’ interceptions did nothing productive for the team’s once promising romp-turned-nailbiter against Denver. The offensive play-calling looked more like a teenager trying to swing his way out of a Madden beatdown than something an NFL offensive coordinator who is paid millions to scheme up a gameplan would dial up.

What’s the deal? What is going on with this once mighty Chiefs team that looked like the best team in the NFL in their five consecutive wins that served as the meat sandwiched between losses to the Bills and Bengals? Rather than now focus on how crisp and clutch the Chiefs looked in those five wins—or even in parts or all of the other five wins the Chiefs have this season to account for their 10 thus far—it seems many of us want to remain skeptical and point to the fact that two of our losses are to teams we could certainly run into in the AFC playoffs.

Let me ask a question: How do you think those two teams feel? Buffalo’s three losses came to two AFC playoff teams and the Minnesota Vikings, who are currently the NFC’s 3 seed. Losses to the Jets and Dolphins sting even more as in-division games tends to burn a little deeper when they don’t go your way. Sure, they got revenge on the Jets last weekend, but they still have to get through round 2 with Miami coming up this Saturday. As for the Bengals? Well, a narrow 19-17 defeat to division rival Baltimore surely stings a little and creates cause for concern for a fanbase that has played little brother for years before breaking out with a Super Bowl appearance in 2021.

Buffalo still has to take on the Dolphins once more, the Bengals, and the New England Patriots—all teams in the playoff hunt. Cincinnati squares off against a back-against-the-wall Bucs team in Tampa this weekend before having to take on the Bills, obviously, and the Ravens again in the regular season finale. The Chiefs… well, they don’t exactly have a bunch of juggernauts left to tackle with Houston coming up this weekend followed by the sliding Seahawks and Round 2 bouts with Denver and Las Vegas.

So why exactly are we fretting over where the Chiefs sit currently? Last year at this point, the Chiefs were a game worse at 9-4 and needed help to ascend into the AFC’s top spot. This year? 10-3, and sure the team still needs help, but you have to assume Buffalo’s streaky play could potentially catch up to them with a much tougher schedule down the stretch.

Sure, the Chiefs’ offense has had some issues in the red zone over the course of the last 3 weeks. That is cause for concern, but remember who they are missing. Mecole Hardman has been the ultimate gadget in red zone scenarios for Andy Reid this season, and his presence has been sorely missed more than most of Chiefs Kingdom would like to admit. Kadarius Toney was a nice shot in the arm for the offense for two weeks but has unfortunately been on the shelf in recent weeks. Friendly reminder that he’s got a strained hamstring, not an amputated right leg.

Have we forgotten how clutch Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are? Do we not recall how Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and the rest of the Chiefs’ defense turn things around late in the season for a defensive unit that traditionally lags a little at points in the season? There are 4 potentially confidence-boosting games right in front of KC at this point in the schedule. If they play their cards right, the team could come out at the end of this stretch at 14-3 with possibly the best record in the entire league, let alone the AFC.

What I’m saying is the problems that the Chiefs offense has experienced are alarming, especially when you live in a week-to-week world of “are we great” or “are we trash”, but in the big picture, the Chiefs are miles ahead of where most of us would have assumed they would be right now at the beginning of the season. The problems the defense has experienced certainly make you question how these young players will react in a playoff environment against players like Ja’Marr Chase, Stefon Diggs, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert. But have we considered that some of these situations for young players are about learning experiences rather than coaching flubs?

Winning the division was always a possibility, but running away with it wasn’t a popular take. Competing for the top seed in the AFC seemed like a pipe dream with the Bills projected to somehow go 18-0 in a 17-week season. Hell, even the MVP race is essentially down to Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts when the beginning of 2022 had a Miss Cleo level of certainty that Josh Allen would be taking home the hardware.

Don’t panic. The Chiefs are right where they’re supposed to be. If they get a few pieces back in play over the next few weeks, without rushing back, they will be sitting in a good spot going into the AFC playoffs. With execution over the next four weeks and a little help from the teams squaring off against Buffalo, the 2022 playoffs could even turn into the 5th annual Arrowhead Invitational once more. Don’t tear the team down. Get excited that even in a retooling year the Chiefs are one of the best teams in the NFL.

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