14 - Nick Bolton
Kansas City Chiefs · LB
Bolton leads all rookies in tackles with 71, and I love the way he attacks the line of scrimmage. He’s going to be a featured player on the Kansas City defense for a very long time.
Patrick Mahomes vs. Man Coverage
The film tells the same story: Kansas City’s receivers are having a hard time getting open against man coverage. No team in the league is seeing more coverages with two safeties back deep. Tyreek Hill has struggled with that extra attention. And while Mahomes’s answer for those two-high looks in the past was always Travis Kelce underneath, the star tight end is having a dreadful year—especially against man. He ranks 19th in yards per route run against man (1.29 yards), which is a steep drop from last season, when he ranked fourth at 2.38 yards, per Pro Football Focus.
That’s a roundabout way of saying the Chiefs’ problems are much bigger than the offensive line. The pass protection unit has been OK. The run blocking hasn’t been so great, which has stood out as the Chiefs have seen more light boxes this year. If Kansas City’s offense is going to rebound to its peak form, it’ll have to do a better job of exploiting those light fronts and get defenses to drop a safety into the box to open up the deeper parts of the field.
Wins - 9.9
Kansas City Chiefs
PROJECTED WILD CARD
Current record: 5-4
The Chiefs have scored 48 points in the first quarter of games, the seventh most in the NFL, which sounds great — but they have also allowed 49 points, which is tied for 27th and makes for a differential of -1. Even that fails to tell the full story, which is that first-quarter turnovers have contributed to this negative differential. Kansas City has committed four turnovers in the first quarter so far this season, tied for third-most, which sets up an extremely challenging game script early in games. The good news is, the Chiefs have been dealing with a fair number of “unlucky” plays, and that trend forecasts to normalize for Patrick Mahomes and the offense over time.
Their offensive problems aren’t solely or primarily stemming from a lack of talent, but one way to help Patrick Mahomes settle down might be giving him yet another big-play outlet. Beckham would be playing second fiddle to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, perhaps, but K.C. throws it so much that he’d still see a bump in action. The Chiefs, remember, sniffed around WR additions prior to this season.
Who are the top candidates most likely to get interviews in this cycle?
Graziano: We’ll obviously hear plenty of the usual suspects on the offensive side as well, including Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy and Buffalo’s Brian Daboll (assuming those offenses can get back on track before the end of the season). I expect teams with open jobs will talk to Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Dallas’ Kellen Moore could get himself on radar screens if the Cowboys’ offense keeps humming the way it was before last week’s flop. San Francisco’s Mike McDaniel is well thought of in league circles. You still hear people talk about Carolina’s Joe Brady, though I don’t understand what has happened the past two years in Carolina to make that the case.
Here’s a list of the playoff chances for all the other AFC teams (their percentage chances of getting into the playoffs is listed next to them in parentheses): Chiefs (45.7%), Colts (41%), Browns (40.8%), Broncos (34.3%), Bengals (28.1%), Dolphins (0.4%), Jaguars (0.1%), Jets (0.0%), Texans (0.0%).
11 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 5
2021 stats: 9 games | 65.2 pct | 2,534 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 20 pass TD | 10 INT | 227 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles
I feel like I’m losing perspective about what I’m seeing from Mahomes this season because I’ve long said he’s the best quarterback I’ve ever seen, with the best start to his career by any quarterback since Dan Marino. Here’s what the numbers say: The Chiefs have the 25th most efficient offense since Week 5. QBR has Mahomes 16th, he’s ninth in EPA/CPOE composite and PFF grades him 23rd, below Daniel Jones, Geno Smith and Tua Tagovailoa. When he snaps out of this funk, it will probably have to do with his decision-making rather than some schematic cure-all. It’s not like the Chiefs are seeing two deep safeties for the first time.
Around the NFL
“Watching the replay and watching all the angles and everything, I think it’s some bull,” Burns said. “I think it’s some bull for him to take his legs — because my main thing is he took his legs and he swept the one leg I had up, you know what I mean? I think it’s some bull. And his explanation for it — because he thought I had the ball — I don’t think you could think a person has the ball. Soon as I sacked you, you grabbed my arm. And then everybody ran past us.
“Even if you thought I had the ball, it’s not legal to trip somebody or leg sweep somebody, let alone twist (an) ankle, it’s not legal to do that. Everybody else ran past us. If I had the ball, don’t you think I’d be getting tackled? Or your teammate would help? So, I don’t think it’s cool, but it’s whatever.”
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook maintained his innocence during a five-minute news conference on Wednesday in which he addressed a lawsuit filed against him by an ex-girlfriend alleging that he abused her during an altercation at his home last year.
“I just want everybody to know I’m the victim in this situation and the truth and the details about the situation will come out at a further time,” Cook said.
The 26-year-old running back was accused by 29-year-old former girlfriend Gracelyn Trimble, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, of assault, battery and false imprisonment, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
In recent weeks, all parts of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense — the pieces and the planning — have not lived up to expectation. They’ve averaged 12 points in their last three games, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes has had a few of his worst statistical games ever mixed in.
When you ask Mahomes — the king on a chessboard — what is going wrong, there’s one word that he emphasizes right away.
“It comes down to execution,” Mahomes told reporters on Wednesday during his press conference. “When you don’t execute in this league, you don’t score points. You’ve seen that the last few weeks — then you saw the weeks where we were executing and scoring points. That’s on us to go out there and execute at a higher level, starting with me.”
The star quarterback elaborated on placing the blame on his shoulders.
“There are plays where guys are open that I’m not hitting,” Mahomes continued. “We’re calling plays to get guys open, and I have to find those guys, and they have to catch them and move the chains at the end of the day... I have to be better; I understand that.”