KC Chiefs will go as far as Isiah Pacheco can take them

When the Bengals came to town in Week 17, many thought the Chiefs would effectively run the ball, but no one was ready for Isiah Pacheco's big night.

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

After their Week 16 loss against the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Day, the Kansas City Chiefs were looking for a bounce-back game against their AFC rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. Many in Chiefs Kingdom believed running back Isaiah Pacheco was due for a big game against a Bengals' defense that gave up an average of 127 yards on the ground in 2023.

On New Year's Eve, running back Isiah Pacheco looked like a man on a mission who would not be denied. Pacheco not only rushed for a career-high 130 yards on 18 carries but was a key contributor in the passing game, catching all 7 targets for 35 yards, including the only touchdown in the 25-17 victory, clenching the Chiefs' eighth consecutive AFC West title.

Pacheco appeared to want to hurt the entire Bengals defense every time he got the ball. It didn't matter if the Chiefs needed one yard or 12 yards; Pacheco wanted to run over anyone who got in his way, and it was a night to remember. Pacheco's strong running and elusiveness allowed the Chiefs to move the ball. It was not just his running between the tackles to get the hard yards needed for first downs, but when he turned the corner, he made the Bengals' defense pay for it.

When the Bengals came to town in Week 17, many thought the Chiefs would effectively run the ball, but no one was ready for Isiah Pacheco's big night.

In recent weeks, Chiefs receivers not named Rashee Rice have struggled (I am looking at you MVS), and on New Year's Eve against the Bengals, the Chiefs showed Pacheco may be seeing a bigger role in the passing game.

In 2023, running back Jerick McKinnon is third on the team with 4 receiving touchdowns on the season, but now that he is on the injured reserve list, that production needs to be replaced. There is hope McKinnon will be back for the postseason depending on how deep the Chiefs can go, but there is a better chance we will not see his return this season. In Week 17, Pacheco showed he could also be the receiving back this team needs.

The Chiefs used Pacheco effectively in the screen game, where the Chiefs' wide receivers and tight ends made key blocks to help Pacheco break loose for large gains, but a first-quarter touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes showed a flash of what is to come for the all-purpose running back.

On the first drive of the game, on the shoulders of Pacheco, the Chiefs marched down the field, and on a third and goal, Patrick threw an absolute dart to Pacheco, who lined up wide with three other receivers clearing out the defense for an easy pitch and catch touchdown.

Personally, I want to see more formations focusing on Pacheco in the passing game. The screen passes have been effective, but at times, the Chiefs rely on them too often, leading to the team going backward more times than not and making the team more predictable than in years past. More formations featuring Pacheco may be what this offense needs to take the next step heading into the postseason. Pacheco has shown he is reliable in the passing game and has hands Mahomes can trust, which is not something we can say about the other receivers on the team.

On a night when backup running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire sat out with an illness, and McKinnon was already on injured reserve, Pacheco showed he could be the every down back the Chiefs have been looking for. At this point, they do not need to employ the RB-by-committee strategy Chiefs fans have grown accustomed to seeing. For the Chiefs to have the best chance to win in 2023 and look forward to 2024, they need to feed their growing star running back and ride his coattails to victory.

What do you think Chiefs Kingdom? Do you want to see more Pacheco? That's a dumb question, of course you do.