Well. Sunday night was not much fun. I think we were all hoping for a reinvigorated Chiefs team to show up to host the Buffalo Bills in prime time, but what we saw was probably the worst overall team performance the Chiefs have mounted in three years, outside of the last Super Bowl. The Bills came into Kansas City and embarrassed the repeat AFC Champion Chiefs on their home field.
So what went wrong in this one? Outside of saying “just about everything” I don’t know quite how to sum this one up, because much of what I saw actually exceeded expectations and we still lost. The offense was a mess—that’s something that just can’t happen with as bad as the defense is. But the defense, as badly as they played, still stopped the Bills more times than I thought they would in the game.
Everyone is going to have good years and bad years, but at this juncture, Patrick Mahomes needs to get back to being Patrick Mahomes if this team hopes to make the playoffs. Yes, I am honestly beginning to see, for the first time since #15 lined up behind the center, a realistic scenario in which the Chiefs do not make the playoffs. Not saying I’m to the point that I think that’s happening, but I am acknowledging that statistically the difference between playoff odds at 3-2 and 2-3 is about 30%. That’s not a good number. Neither are Mahomes’ interception totals, which are way out of whack with what we normally see out of him. Is he pressing because the defense is so bad? Yes. Is he bored making 7-yard throws play after play with deep safeties covering all the fun stuff? Probably. Do either of those things matter in the grand scheme of things? No. He is the highest paid player in the league—he needs to get back to playing like it.
The problem also extends to the team’s other high caliber weapons. Where the heck has Travis Kelce been for the last two weeks? The guy has looked slow and uncomfortable with the tough style of play teams are imposing on him. He’s the greatest tight end in the history of the game, as of today, so whatever he does going forward is just gravy, but I truly hope he has not hit a wall in his thirties. I’m going to choose to believe for now that this is a bump in the road, and we’ll see the old, motivated and dangerous Kelce this week. And Tyreek Hill? A guy who separated himself from other receivers in the league, not just with his speed, but also with his ball skills, has seemingly forgotten how to catch the ball. He had one drive-killing drop early, and then the interception that went though his hands late, and those are just the ones that jump to mind. The Chiefs are not explosive when their best playmakers don’t make plays—that needs to change and become more consistent moving forward.
Then you have the running game. It looked like it was on track, then against the Bills, Clyde Edwards-Helaire looked slow even before his injury, and the line was creating holes the same way they were in the last few weeks. Maybe some rest will do Clyde well, and the team seems to be looking to make a trade to bring in another starting-caliber back while he is gone. For now, we’ll see Darrel Williams taking the majority of the snaps. He has filled in well before, and I think he will again.
Now to the defense. As I said, they got more stops than I would have guessed coming into the game, but the number of Bills receivers that found themselves running free down the field was infuriating. And the thing is, you can’t really blame the secondary (except for Dan Sorenson...I can definitely blame Dan Sorenson), because the pass rush leaves them in the wind for way too long—indefinitely, you might say. And the worst part is, as bad as the secondary and line play has been, the linebackers may actually be worse.
Ok. All of that said, and all of that frustration released—I still think the Chiefs figure out a way to make the playoffs. And if the Chiefs make the playoffs, the rest of the league is on notice. This is not going to be a pretty season, but if it ends up with Kansas City having a chance to make some noise in the postseason, I think we’ll forget about all the rest for a few weeks. Here’s to hoping that happens.