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Chiefs-Panthers: three big takeaways from Week 9

Carolina Panthers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs were pushed to the brink by the scrappy Carolina Panthers but were able to edge out a victory. The Chiefs improved their record to 8-1 heading into the bye week after the 34-31 against the Panthers on the backs of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

We broke down the game on the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory post-game show — as presented by Ruback Jewelry.

Here are our three big takeaways from the game:

Patrick Mahomes “playing at his best”

According to Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes is playing the best football of his career right now, and we may not even be able to see all of it. What Reid is referencing is just simply how well Mahomes is understanding and seeing the game — and that comes across on the field with just how in control he is at all times. Even in the first half, with some passes getting away from him, Mahomes looked to be in full control of the game in every aspect.

As he settled in and the second half started, Mahomes got rolling. Ending with 372 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 turnovers, Mahomes may have took over the reins of the MVP race as well.

Travis Kelce is a top-five skill player in the NFL

Travis Kelce has been the best tight end in the NFL for quite some time now (especially according to those in Kansas City), but new challengers have emerged in recent years. It simply doesn’t matter, as no tight end has the ability to dominate a game like Kelce has these past two weeks for the Chiefs. In a struggling first half of football, it was Kelce who put the team on his back to help them keep the score close and move the ball down the field. Kelce may not have the athleticism in terms of speed and quickness he once had, but he’s aged so incredibly well in terms of his IQ and fluidity that he remains unguardable. Rarely are tight ends this deserving of praise, but it would be rather difficult to name five offensive skill players that have been better than Kelce this season.

Defense struggles on all levels

This was the come-back-to-Earth game for the Chiefs defense, especially the linebacker group. Led by Ben Niemann in this case, the linebacker group struggled with the Panthers weapons and desire to attack the second level outside the numbers and in the passing game. Outside of a few plays by Willie Gay negated by penalties, the linebacker group was on the receiving end of big plays all game long.

The pass rush flashed at times thanks to Frank Clark, Chris Jones and even Tershawn Wharton, but there was zero consistency. Steve Spagnuolo had to resort to blitzing at a high clip despite facing a very quick passing attack and even then, the players struggled to land home. The Chiefs’ pass defense had played well despite the pass-rushing woes, but it caught up to them this game, as the Panthers picked them apart. Chiefs fans should hope the bye week allows them to get everything together and come back strong for the game against the Las Vegas Raiders on November 22.

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