Sunday’s game was a microcosm of this season as a whole. The Kansas City Chiefs played against a quality opponent who hit them with literally everything they had. The defending champs rose to the occasion, making plays when it mattered to build a commanding lead. But they also were just sloppy enough to let the New Orleans Saints back into the game at the end — before Mahomes and company closed it out.
As Chiefs fans, we’re witnessing something special this season, so it feels petty to call out any losers. But whom am I kidding? I’ll do it anyway.
Here are a few of who stood out as the Chiefs improved to 13-1.
- L’Jarius Sneed: The rookie once again came up with big plays, including an interception, a sack and three passes defensed. The kid is just always around the ball. He’s looking like not only a draft steal, but one of the best players on this defense.
- Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill: It’s like “Groundhog Day.” These three are winners week-in and week-out. It wasn’t Mahomes’s most efficient day (four sacks, two fumbles and a 55% completion rate), but when the Chiefs offense needed a play, this trio did what they always do: they delivered. Kelce had a touchdown (on a pass Mahomes threw in half a second) and a two-point conversion that proved important. He’ll break the tight end receiving record again this season — and should be in the discussion for Offensive Player of the Year, too. Hill had another score that put him within one of the team record for touchdowns in a season. The fact that the Chiefs have the league’s leading passer and touchdowns leader — and a tight end who is within six yards of leading the league in receiving after 14 games — is remarkable. All they need now is a nickname...
- Le’Veon Bell: The veteran running back has been gradually working his way into the offense — and into a committee with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. This week was Bell’s most effective game so far, averaging over four yards per attempt and scoring a touchdown on an option play with Mahomes. The big headline from this game was a scary-looking injury to Edwards-Helaire, which immediately elevates Bell’s role. They’ll lean on Bell for the next few weeks — and he’s looking like to be up to the challenge.
- Andy Reid: What the Chiefs are doing this season is remarkable — and it all comes back to Big Red. They’ve finished 8-0 on the road, having beaten at least four playoff teams in their own houses. They’ve adapted to COVID-19, overcome injuries and avoided a Super Bowl hangover. Play-calling continues to be creative and the coaching staff has gotten the most from their talent — including several unheralded rookies. This team has a chance to be a dynasty — and they don’t appear to be done improving. At 13-1, they’re on pace for the best season in franchise history — and considering that they’re the defending champs, that’s saying a lot.
- Ben Niemann: From the fourth-down pass he allowed to Jared Cook (pictured) to getting steamrolled by Alvin Kamara on his touchdown run, Niemann continued to draw the ire of Chiefs fans — even as he led the team in tackles and defensive snaps.
- Demarcus Robinson: From here forward, any kick or punt returner that runs backwards should automatically make the losers’ list. Robinson showed exactly what can go wrong. Not only did he lose 13 yards, but his fumble through the end zone cost the Chiefs two points... and it could have been seven.
- Mecole Hardman: His touchdown was a thing of beauty, but it wasn’t enough to outweigh his negative plays. Hardman lost ground on a run and a punt return — and also had a couple of drops on the way to catching just three of his nine targets against the Saints. But perhaps the worst sign is how often Mahomes is shaking his head and pointing after a missed connection with Hardman — indicating that sometimes, he’s just not where he’s supposed to be.