In stock market terms, securities or indices are found through technical analysis to have something called resistance levels. The idea is that there is a price that forms somewhat of a ceiling. The stock may bounce up against the resistance level but struggles to break through it. Until it does. Breaking the resistance level might be an indicator that the stock can reach levels where it hasn’t been before, setting a new ceiling and potentially a higher floor (support level).
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been the resistance level for this franchise for years. Just when we think the Kansas City Chiefs are capable of competing for a conference title, the Steelers remind us that there is a ceiling.
Perhaps breaking through, as the Chiefs did this week, is an indicator that the team will be able to reach a level we haven’t seen before.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes: It’s long been thought that Mahomes had a high ceiling, but that he wouldn’t reach it early in his career. People thought he’d throw many interceptions, and would take time to adjust to the pro game. Well, it appears that the pro game is going to need more time to adjust to Pat Mahomes. He’s destroying expectations thus far, indicating that we might have underestimated him, even with all of the hype. If 10 touchdowns, no interceptions and going undefeated on the road against playoff-level teams is a resistance level, what’s next for Mahomes?
Confidence & mental toughness: The Chiefs have struggled to get to the next level, partially because they were unable to counter when punched. This team has won a lot of games by striking early, getting a lead, then trying to hold on. Sometimes it worked, other times momentum shifted to their opponent, and the Chiefs lacked the confidence and mental toughness to regain control of the game. This week, Mahomes and company came roaring out after halftime to regain command after the Steelers had overcome a three-touchdown deficit. Weaker Chiefs teams might have folded. It’s a great sign to see the 2018 team punch back with confidence.
Left guard Cameron Erving: Surprises of the preseason included Erving being handed the left guard spot, ending the presumed competition, sending the other two recent starters off of the roster and getting a contract extension. The surprise of the regular season thus far for Erving is that it appears he’s proving the team correct. Erving hasn’t been very noticeable through the first two games, which is a great sign for an offensive lineman. We’ve seen a couple of highlights, without noting any embarrassing losses. So far, so good for No. 75.
Travis Kelce: Last week, he had a down week as it pertains to making plays, but excelled as a blocker. We rightfully assumed that his turn to be featured in the passing game would come soon enough. It did. His stat line of seven receptions, 109 yards and two touchdowns reminded fantasy owners what he can do. The way in which he dominated the Steelers over the middle and after the catch reminded teams that if they pay too much attention to Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs will make them pay.
Sammy Watkins: Welcome to the show, Mr. Watkins. We’ve been expecting you. Watkins impressed in Week 2 with a 31-yard run to go along with his first 100-yard receiving game in a Chiefs uniform. He showed the speed, hands and run-after-catch ability that we hoped would be a tremendous complement to Tyreek Hill. Good luck, NFL defenses.
Orlando Scandrick: The favorite subject of Chiefs fans’ ire is actually playing some decent football. Yes, he was flagged for a very costly penalty this week, but his physical style of play also yielded some positive results in coverage. His stock is up, in part because it couldn’t have gone down from last week. Perhaps Scandrick can gradually win fans over instead of reminding us of all the ghosts of cornerbacks past.
Crude count... but Orlando Scandrick gave up 2 catches on 9 targets (someone will correct if off base) vs Pitt.— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) September 18, 2018
1 was a 9 yard comeback to Juju that he also held him on
1 was him torn in a zone for a short gain underneath
Fuller also saved a completion to Brown for ~15 yards
The Chiefs offensive line: Only one sack allowed each week so far against two teams that can get after the quarterback. Actually, Mahomes could have avoided both, but he stepped right into the defender each time. Run blocking was a bit of an issue last week, and the numbers still aren’t great, but they seem to be trending in the right direction. We thought that Mahomes might make up for some deficiencies in the pass protection, given his ability to extend plays. It turns out he can, but the offensive line is starting to play better as a unit as well. At least they didn’t let the Steelers bully them this time.
Others trending in the right direction: Allen Bailey, Ron Parker, Chiefs special teams, Dee Ford
Linebacker/standup 5-tech, Breeland Speaks: The rookie has gotten off to a slow start. He’s getting nearly double the snaps of Tanoh Kpassagnon without a standout play to show for it. Box scores are not everything, but for what it’s worth, Speaks doesn’t yet have a tackle, much less a sack. Speaks has the size and strength to set the edge and be a difference maker against the run, but he may be finding that it takes more than that to win against NFL offensive linemen.
The Chiefs’ ability to make it through a defensive play without a penalty: Penalties in the secondary wiped out two Chiefs turnovers, including one that would have been a touchdown. We can debate all day whether they were legit calls (both probably were), but it’s clearly something that the team needs to work on. For a defense that has some known deficiencies, giving opponents extra snaps and free yardage is not palatable. This defense is going to struggle taking the ball away without Marcus Peters and Eric Berry, so they have to find other ways to finish drives, instead of extending them by being too grabby.
Inside linebacker Reggie Ragland: Ragland hasn’t been bad this year, but he’s shown his limitations in the passing game, and has missed more tackles than you’d like from your enforcer in the middle. He’s been banged up, so there’s hope that he’ll improve as the season goes on.
Others trending in the wrong direction: Alex Ellis, Damien Williams, the three-man pass rush
Wide receiver Chris Conley: A mixed bag this week for Conley, with a touchdown and a late fumble (although it was caused by him trying to fight for extra yards). Conley may seem like the forgotten man on the Chiefs stellar wide receiver corps, but he’s a reliable blocker and will make a play now and then.
Linebacker Justin Houston: I don’t want to hear about his “decline.” He’s still a difference maker for this team, even if he’s not filling up a box score every week.
Justin Houston one-arms Steelers RT into Ben Roethlisberger and forces the fumble. Nullified by Orlando Scandrick penalty. pic.twitter.com/wFOb2zwOFU— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 16, 2018
Safety Eric Murray: Murray has had an up and down season thus far. Against Pittsburgh, he had a chance at a sack, and he missed. That said, Murray has shown some ability to cover, as our own Craig Stout points out.
This is PHENOMENAL coverage on 3rd and 5 on the third drive of the game. Chiefs show pressure, bring both ILBs. Murray drops to the hook and has good catch technique on the TE, who Ben repeatedly looks to. CB's are PHYSICAL, and Scandrick sticks with Brown through his route. pic.twitter.com/o2VnxwCyCX— Craig Stout (@barleyhop) September 18, 2018
Others who are who we thought they were: Anthony Hitchens, Demetrius Harris, Steven Nelson, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Tyreek Hill