The Buffalo Bills defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 16-10, as the Chiefs fell to 6-5. The Chiefs have now lost five of their last six games.
This is the good, the bad and the ugly. Scroll all the way down for my final thoughts.
GOOD: Reggie’s revenge
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach swapped a 2019 fourth-round pick in exchange for linebacker Reggie Ragland back in late August. The Bills drafted Ragland with their second-rounder in 2016, but he missed all of the year with a torn ACL injury.
We posted this back in late August:
Ragland had extra juice against the Bills Sunday, and it showed. Ragland led the team with nine tackles (eight solo), including three for a loss. The Chiefs got a great player with Ragland at exactly the right time with Derrick Johnson’s slow conversion to more of a part-time player.
GOOD: Harrison Butker breaks Chiefs’ franchise record
Rookie kicker Harrison Butker broke the franchise record with his 45-yarder in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. The kick was his 23rd consecutive made field goal.
The 22-year-old Butker remains to be a bright spot and a steal during a recent stretch of serious woes. Butker will save the Chiefs money this year and next year and is someone they should probably lock up for a long time thereafter.
GOOD: Hey, involving Travis Kelce is good for the offense guys
The Chiefs’ best offensive player, Travis Kelce, had just one target during the game’s first half Sunday.
That changed in the third quarter. Kelce had two catches for 35 yards, including a 25-yarder to convert a third-and-11, on the Chiefs’ opening drive of the second half.
Kelce’s involvement opened things up for Tyreek Hill, who had a 16-yard gain, as well as Albert Wilson, who converted a screen pass for a 19-yard touchdown.
Kelce finished with four catches for 39 yards.
GOOD: Albert Wilson’s return to the lineup, touchdown
And speaking of Wilson, Matt Derrick of Chiefs Digest tweeted this before the game:
WR Albert Wilson is active, so we'll see if he can bring some spark to the offense this week.— Matt Derrick (@mattderrick) November 26, 2017
Chiefs are 6-1, averaging 31. 9 points per game when Wilson plays. They are 0-3 and averaging 13 points when he doesn't. https://t.co/K0zR7BvzVg
I thought these statistics were rather telling, and though Wilson didn’t have the greatest first half (I counted two drops), it was good to see his veteran presence back in the lineup and equally as good to see him grab the Chiefs’ first touchdown. Wilson finished with three receptions for 36 yards.
GOOD (OK, decent): The defense
The Chiefs defense didn’t play amazingly against the Buffalo Bills, but for the second week in a row, it did enough where you should expect the offense to deliver a win.
Defense gives the offense another chance… Again. Been saying that a lot the last few games.— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) November 26, 2017
Seth’s right. The defense is doing enough. This is an offensive problem.
BAD: Kareem Hunt off to a bad start, again
Prior to Sunday’s game, I tweeted this:
The #Bills have given up 194, 298 and 146 rushing yards the last three games. Have to like the chances of a #KareemTheDream return Sunday.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) November 26, 2017
Then the Chiefs gave him the ball five times in the first half for a total of four yards.
The Bills, not respecting the pass, stacked the box and stopped Hunt, and the Chiefs faced six third downs throughout the half, none of which they converted.
Hunt finished with 11 carries for 17 yards, and the days of counting on him for 100 yards from scrimmage a game (remember that record he set?) seem long gone.
BAD: Alex Smith struggles, again
Alex Smith did not have the greatest game once again in what continues to be a tough midseason stretch for the once-thought-to-be MVP candidate.
Other than the Chiefs’ initial drive in the second half, which almost ended quickly due to a third-and-16, there were overthrows, miscues and poor decision-making we just did not see in the early stretch of the year.
One play that stood out, in particular, came in the third quarter. The Chiefs had third-and-9 at their own 41-yard-line, and Smith, facing heavy pressure, couldn’t find a receiver. Despite seemingly having the time to throw the ball away, Smith took a 16-yard sack, giving up an opportunity to gain field position in a tight game.
Smith also threw way under the marker on third down twice in the second half on key plays.
First was the incompletion on a swing pass to Charcandrick West on third-and-11 late in the third quarter, followed by a short pass to his left to Hill on third-and-6 in the fourth quarter that was four yards short of the marker.
The Chiefs opted to go for it on the latter fourth down, which turned out to be another miss by Smith.
Albert Wilson was completely open short on the slant for the first down and even waved at Smith pre-snap to tell him. Smith didn't see it, went deep to Hill— Matt Derrick (@mattderrick) November 26, 2017
Here’s a look at the fourth-down play:
Oh the irony: Alex Smith had a wide open man underneath on that 4th down. Also, GET LOST. #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/nBYwmNu8NZ— Clay Wendler (@ClayWendler) November 26, 2017
And finally, the interception to seal it late.
Alex Smith is DONE in Kansas City. GOODBYE! #Chiefs #BenchAlex pic.twitter.com/1DU2bA9XxM— Clay Wendler (@ClayWendler) November 26, 2017
UGLY: the entire first half, again
The following were facts about the first half:
- The Bills had 13 points to the Chiefs’ 3
- The Bills had 199 yards to the Chiefs’ 57
- The Bills had 13 first downs to the Chiefs’ 1
- The Bills converted 6 of 12 third downs to the Chiefs’ 0 of 6
- The Bills held the ball for 21:17 to the Chiefs’ 8:43
The Chiefs continued their trend of not coming out ready or with a good offensive game plan, two rarities for an Andy Reid-coached team. The shift in game plan after halftime was palpable.
UGLY: The ol’ double-screen pass
At third-and-6 after two straight punts to start the game in the first quarter, the Chiefs called what was probably a motion-screen to Tyreek Hill (guessing here), but Albert Wilson, who hadn’t played since Week 8, also went out to receive the pass.
Hi we are the #Chiefs and we are intercepting our own screen passes pic.twitter.com/63DdtLjMDu— Clay Wendler (@ClayWendler) November 26, 2017
Either way, what this led to was one of the ugliest (hey, that fits well here) plays you have ever seen two professional football players make, and the ball hit the two receivers in the hands, reminding me of two colliding outfielders in baseball.
The ball fell incomplete. Gross.
UGLY: penalties, again
The Chiefs had too many penalties (six for 50 yards) once again Sunday, the ugliest of which was 12 men on the field in a fourth-quarter spot in which they needed to keep the Bills from scoring, at all. With the game being 16-10, any score meant a two-score game late.
On second-and-7, the Chiefs had 12 men on the field. Awful.
UGLY: This fact
Bills CB Tre'Davious White, acquired with the pick Buffalo got from Kansas City, seals win when he intercepts an Alex Smith pass.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 26, 2017
Damn it, Schefter.
Well, here we are.
The Chiefs have let the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders back in a division race that was all but over.
They have had the most abysmal of midseason stretches, dropping games to some of the league’s worst teams. The Chiefs lost to the Raiders (4-6), the Dallas Cowboys (5-6), the New York Giants (2-9) and now the Buffalo Bills (6-5).
They are not the team that started 5-0. They are severely flawed and the offense is broken.
So, the question of the hour (make that the next day, week, and season) is this:
When does Reid call it?
And by calling it, I of course mean switching the starting quarterback to Patrick Mahomes.
If the team’s braintrust (Reid-Veach-Hunt), according to Kansas City favorite Jason La Canfora, truly believes Mahomes could start next season and that is the plan, you have finally gotten to a point in which you must ask, “OK, then why not now?”
Because let’s take a deep look in the mirror for a second. This Chiefs team, which has lost five of its last six games, including one of the worst football games of all time to the atrocious New York Giants, is not winning a Super Bowl.
So if you can be honest with yourself on that fact, wouldn’t it make more sense to start Mahomes and get those five games of in-season experience under his belt the rest of the way?
It would be hard for me to sit here and write that I think starting Mahomes now will turn the 2017 season around. Because I don’t think that. I think this year’s Super Bowl dreams are over.
The Chiefs are not better than the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jacksonville Jaguars or the surging Los Angeles Chargers, who may very well win this AFC West division.
So, what do you have to lose?
If it lights a miraculous spark in the offense, maybe you win in 2017.
And if not, you win in 2018 and beyond because Mahomes will be ready for the lights from jump.