The difference is that more players are becoming more familiar with Spagnuolo’s schemes as well as each other. “Everything is starting to come together because we know we have guys who can make plays,” said linebacker Reggie Ragland. “(Safety) Tyrann Mathieu has been making plays since he was at LSU. (Safety) Juan Thornhill has been making plays since he was at Virginia. We have a lot of guys who know how to make things happen and we’re playing loose. At the end of the day, it’s our job but we also still need to have fun with it.”
Things That Made Me Giddy
Juan Thornhill’s Very Good Six Minutes: The rookie safety stuffed Trevor Davis on a fourth-and-1 jet sweep, after which the Chiefs drove for a touchdown. Then, on the ensuing possession, he delivered a 46-yard pick-six.
Thompson ended the day as he started it — scrolling through text messages on his phone. There were dozens waiting on him, these of much happier news than the one that started his morning.
He thought of his coach as he stood in front of his locker, he said. Thought of how Trimble might have reacted if he’d seen the game. Or even if he’d been there.
“He’d slap me on the back,” Thompson said. “And give me a hug.”
After taking the snap, Mahomes backpedaled, backpedaled and then dropped back some more on the play. Mahomes was 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage when he floated the pass to Kelce.
“How do you complete that pass?” CBS announcer Jim Nantz asked.
Tony Romo said: “I just wanted you to know that no one else is even attempting that.”
“He did a nice job. He had productive runs today,” Reid said. “We’re not fooling anybody here, he’s not getting any younger, so it’s my responsibility to manage him as best I can, and I think I know him as well as anybody. So I’m going to do what I think is right on that. If it’s wrong then it’s my fault, so I’ll take that on my shoulders. I know he wants to play every play, and he loves to play.”
Kelce caught five of nine targets for 90 yards in Sunday’s 40-9 rout of the Raiders.
The Chiefs’ passing game was surprisingly muted despite the final score, as windy conditions at Arrowhead Stadium prevented Patrick Mahomes from stretching the field as usual -- Kelce wound up leading the team in receiving yards thanks largely to a 47-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter. The tight end has topped 60 yards in five straight games, hauling in three TDs along the way, and he’s now 77 yards shy of his fourth straight 1,000-yard campaign. Kelce could have a tough time reaching that milestone in Week 14 on the road against the Patriots’ league-leading defense, however.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
The Chiefs laid wood on the Raiders Sunday afternoon, easily beating Oakland 40-9 in a game that was never really very close. Patrick Mahomes hasn’t been exceptional since his injury, but the Chiefs defense has drastically improved over the last month or so. They’re still vulnerable against the run, but this looks like a team that could be terrible for most of the year and suddenly peak on defense as the playoffs roll around. The Chiefs should be in cruise control for the AFC West at this point, but lose the third seed tiebreaker to the Texans if the two teams tie.
3. The penalties were problematic
Against a team as dynamic as the Chiefs, you can’t do anything to hinder your chances, and unfortunately for the Raiders, that’s precisely what happened Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
To put it in some perspective, while the Raiders drew 12 flags, the Chiefs weren’t penalized at all.
The 8-4 Chiefs are two games ahead of the 6-6 and second-place Raiders in the AFC West. They swept the season series, having also won in September when the teams played in Oakland.
That means the Chiefs have the tiebreaker, so they need just two wins in their final four games to clinch their fourth straight AFC West championship. Just one of the Chiefs’ remaining four regular-season opponents has a winning record as of today.
A - Chiefs
Andy Reid is 18-3 after the bye week for a reason. The Chiefs dominated the Raiders, even though their high-powered offense only had 259 yards and quarterback Patrick Mahomes went just 15 of 29 for 175 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City’s defense turned in its finest performance of the season, holding Oakland to nine points and forcing three Raider turnovers in the first half (one being returned for a touchdown) to put the game away. The Chiefs didn’t give Raiders quarterback Derek Carr any options to throw to outside of tight end Darren Waller until the game was way out of hand. Oakland wide receivers had just one catch for seven yards (Zay Jones) until 4:51 remaining in the game when the Chiefs were up 38-3. The Chiefs defense showed they can play at a high level, which will be needed if they want to reach the Super Bowl.
Around the NFL
With the Bills and Steelers being flexed into the Sunday night game, that means someone had to be flexed out. The Vikings and Chargers, who were originally scheduled for the Sunday night slot, will now kick off at 4:05 p.m. ET in Los Angeles in a game that will be televised by CBS.
In nine career prime-time games, Watson has thrown 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
“He’s come up big in important games throughout his life: high school, Clemson, Houston,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said.
“I wore a T-shirt. I wore a jacket with it. My daughters wanted me to wear the shirt. And I’d wear it again,” Kitchens said. “I put a jacket on, I covered it up. I took a picture with a fan. That was as simple as that. T-shirt didn’t cause us to give up 40 yard passes, and we were ready to play. That’s the only thing people need to be concerned about. We were ready to play.”
This week, we say goodbye to…
The New York Giants axed themselves from playoff contention Sunday with a miserable 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, joining Miami (3-9), Cincinnati (1-11), Detroit (3-8-1), Atlanta (3-9) and Arizona (3-8-1) in the let’s-find-someone-convenient-to-blame-this-crappy-season-on group.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
We still don’t know what pass interference really is
The league has a real opportunity to improve the perception of its officiating. By itself, allowing the review of the most-often disputed (and costly) penalty in the game went a long way to improve that perception. But until the league can at least give even the appearance of some kind of standard in its use of the new rule, it’s just making things worse.
The Chiefs secondary: In addition to the aforementioned Thornhill, the rest of the secondary deserves some credit. Tyrann Mathieu had an interception to end the Raiders first drive. On numerous other occasions, Carr was buying time to throw but there wasn’t anyone open. Coverage was generally very good on Sunday — and all of a sudden, this group is looking competent and confident.
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