We can’t say we were surprised that the Kansas City Chiefs rose in the Week 15 NFL Power Rankings after defeating the New England Patriots 23-16 on Sunday. The Chiefs are now in the top five in all rankings except for one — wassup, Vinnie Iyer? — and are ranked as high as third in some.
Here’s what we see in Week 15:
(up from 8)
The Chiefs are division champions for the fourth consecutive year -- a first in the long and distinguished history of this franchise. They beat the Patriots, ending New England’s 21-game winning streak in Foxborough, because their defense got after Tom Brady and stepped up in a moment of the game where Brady usually works his magic. Bashaud Breeland played hero, batting away Brady’s fourth-down end-zone pass intended for Julian Edelman late in the fourth quarter, the clinching play in a 23-16 Chiefs win. Kansas City is now just one game behind the stumbling Patriots in the AFC standings, with the head-to-head tiebreaker in hand. Speaking of hand, Patrick Mahomes injured his throwing hand early on K.C.’s second drive and acknowledged afterward that it impacted his willingness to attempt deep throws. It’s a situation to monitor for the Chiefs, who get the improving Broncos this Sunday at Arrowhead. — Dan Hanzus
(up from 6)
- Offense: 1st
- Defense: 15th
- Special teams: 2nd
Given the way the Chiefs have played offensively and on special teams, they knew they didn’t have to be perfect on defense. Middle of the pack would have been good enough, and according to FPI, that’s about where the Chiefs are on defense. Things are looking up for the Chiefs defensively after three straight big games. — Adam Teicher
(up from 5)
With some help from the officials, the Chiefs ended the Patriots’ 21-game home winning streak. Still, take nothing away from the 17-point second-quarter outburst and a third consecutive win for a surging Kansas City team. Patrick Mahomes was steady despite being hobbled (26-of-40, 283 yards, TD, INT), and Mecole Hardman’s only catch of the night put the Chiefs ahead for good.
(up from 10)
The way they won at New England bodes well for the playoffs. They did it with the defense. — Pete Prisco
(up from 6)
For about 24 hours — or however much time had passed before the new SpyGate controversy started Monday — we heard all about the New England Patriots losing Sunday night’s game. How their offense wasn’t very good, that Tom Brady is slipping, that officiating fiascos are taking center stage, and how their chances to get the No. 1 seed were all finished.
Not mentioned very often in that that hubbub was that the Kansas City Chiefs won.
Sunday’s result was not all about the Patriots. The Chiefs came into this season as a hot pick to win a Super Bowl, then they started a little slow and fell off the radar a bit. They need to be back on the short list of contenders.
The Chiefs are on a three-game winning streak, and the offense hasn’t really been the driving force. They’re averaging 305 yards per game over the last three, which isn’t much for them. But the defense has allowed 17, 9 and 16 points against the Chargers, Raiders and Patriots. That’s a nice streak. And you have to assume the offense will come alive again. It did pretty well against a very tough Patriots defense.
Assuming Mahomes feels good — he has been banged up all season — then Kansas City feels like the type of team nobody would want to play. All Andy Reid jokes aside, the Chiefs are one of the best-coached teams in the NFL. The offense can still outscore anyone when it’s right. Mahomes has the ability to absolutely carry his team through the playoffs. And Kansas City has a few more weeks to gain momentum.
The one thing the Chiefs will have to figure out is a running game. Injuries have affected that. If Damien Williams returns healthy, that could be a big difference. — Frank Schawb
(up from 9)
The Chiefs threw their helmets back in the ring for the AFC championship by solving the Patriots riddle on the road. Keep in mind they were also able to beat the Ravens earlier in the season. Their once-fading Super Bowl hopes are alive again because, of all things, defense. — Vinnie Iyer
(up from 8)
Fun to see Travis Kelce rush for TDs, but he’ll make history by catching more balls. He’s now 11 yards from becoming first TE with four straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. — Nate Davis
(up from 6)
The Chiefs were very fortunate to get the victory at New England, given the officiating gaffes that went in their favor. But they still went to a place where it’s next to impossible for a visiting team to win, and won. That means something, whether or not good luck was involved. — Mark Maske
(down from 3)
(up from 6)
Andy Reid’s Chiefs are heating up down the stretch. An impressive win in New England allowed KC to clinch the AFC West. — Brandon Lee Gowton