Another Kansas City Chiefs game ends in a win, but leaves fans frustrated that it wasn’t more decisive. The Chiefs settled for far too many field goals and let Melvin Gordon and Tim Patrick have huge days — but in the end, it didn’t matter. The Chiefs literally dominate their division like no other team in history.
So who came out of Sunday night’s game a winner — and who didn’t?
Tyrann Mathieu: The Landlord was everywhere on Sunday night, leading the team with seven tackles — including one for a loss. He also collected first and last months’ rent with a pair of interceptions that eliminated the Broncos’ hopes on their first and last drives.
Harrison Butker: We all would have liked to see him kick less, but we should give credit where it’s due: when every point was necessary, Butker went 6/6. The Chiefs’ failures in the red zone turned into automatic points for Butker — even when a phantom penalty set them back another five yards. Sometimes teams will lean on their kicker — and for the second time this season, Butker effectively delivered the win.
Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes could be on this list every week. He’s on this one because when the team seemed to be finding ways to lose, he once again found a way to deliver a win. The broadcast team pointed out what we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing: Mahomes’ insane playmaking ability. The touchdown to Kelce was a thing of beauty — and it’s a shame that none of Hill’s touchdowns counted. Mahomes’ game included the usual hits, a scramble on third down, a sidearm threading of the needle and a falling-away pass while in the grasp of a defender.
L’Jarius Sneed: His stock has been trending up all season due to his speed, coverage ability and the fact that he’s always around the ball. He had another near-interception this week — but where he was surprisingly effective was in the running game. Sneed was physical and aggressive, fighting through blockers (even tossing Garrett Bolles aside) to make six tackles. Yes, he had one visible missed tackle, but that shouldn’t diminish his overall effort.
Travis Kelce: Every week, this guy delivers. Kelce’s spectacular season continued with eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown — plus the usual clutch third-down catches and a highlight reel stiff-arm as he racked up yards after the catch. What else can you say about a guy that just passed 1,000 yards for the fifth straight season? He’s the best there is.
The Chiefs red zone offense: Whether it’s because of play-calling that gets ‘too cute,’ a struggling offensive line unable to get push when Reid calls a run or or a lack of aggression that leads to field goals over touchdowns, it’s an issue that the Chiefs should be worried about down the stretch. Five field goals aren’t representative of what this offense can do — and against playoff teams, it’s not often going to be good enough to win.
Officiating: Listen, the refs didn’t cause the Chiefs to struggle on Sunday night — and if they had lost, it wouldn’t have been the refs’ fault. That said, there were some terrible calls that made this game even more frustrating to watch. There were the usual frustrating calls — like the one that nullified Hill’s backflip touchdown and the questionable pass interference on Breeland — but the inexplicable delay of game penalty on the field goal is what puts the zebras on this list.
Nick Allegretti: Against the Broncos, one of the newer pieces on the Chiefs offensive line had a game he’d rather forget. Many will point to the holding penalty that took six points off the scoreboard; that was just a questionable call. But allowing his defender to bat down Mahomes’ passes at the line of scrimmage is what will likely get him singled out in the film room.
Mecole Hardman: His one catch for 15 yards was an important one — but otherwise, this was another very quiet game for the wideout. Another pass fell incomplete when Hardman rounded off his route and didn’t come back for the football. We’re still waiting for Hardman to consistently show he’s mastered the little details and nuances of his position.
My fantasy football team: I started Clyde Edwards-Helaire this week.