What have been the biggest surprises and disappointments of the season?
No NFL team has been more disappointing in 2021 than the Chiefs, who most people penciled in to the Super Bowl but have just barely crawled back above .500 in Week 9. They are still seventh in EPA per drive and 10th in success rate, but the offense has seemed to be going in the wrong direction and remains plagued by turnovers. The defense was gifted a start from Jordan Love instead of Rodgers last Sunday, but is among the league’s worst. The offensive line Kansas City worked hard to upgrade this offseason ranks fifth in pass block win rate, and Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill are all healthy, so it’s impossible to count the team out entirely. But it’s also evident that there were many other roster issues that went unfixed and that Mahomes’s tendency to go for the big play is manifesting in some negative ways.
Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders (+2.5)
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Las Vegas Raiders +2.5
The Chiefs beat the Packers last week, but still didn’t look great on offense. The Raiders lost to the Giants. These two teams both need this in the worst way. This might be the game that Patrick Mahomes finally gets back on track. It should be a fun, high-scoring game if that happens. I think it does. Mahomes wins a shootout with Derek Carr.
Pick: Chiefs 34, Raiders 33
Las Vegas Raiders 26-23 Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are 4-16 against the spread in the last 20 games, an excellent numerical representation of being overrated. Their status as a heavy favorite against decent teams has finally evaporated, a few weeks after their offense entered a slump that is unlike anything I’ve seen in the Andy Reid era. Any Andy Reid era. There are so many reasons to believe Kansas City’s offensive slide will end at some point, but guessing whether that’s this week, this month or this season is impossible. The Raiders have the better pass rush and the quarterback playing at a higher level than a year ago, when Derek Carr helped the Raiders average 35.5 points against the Chiefs.
Win tight end battle:The last time the Raiders saw Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce, he scored the game-winning touchdown. Kelce has had some big games against the Raiders so containing him is paramount. For the Raiders, tight end Darren Waller had a good game against the Giants and I’d expect the Raiders to continue to target him often in this game.
11 -Patrick Mahomes
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QB
He held onto the ball to beat the Packers, but he’s still erratic in his desperation to cut down on the silly mistakes. (-2)
Around the NFL
“Annoy me? Nah. Confuse me a lot? Very much so yes,” Lamb said. “I just don’t understand why I’m always the one getting fined for some reason. Untucked jersey. I don’t know.”
Lamb was fined $5,150 for having his jersey untucked during the Sept. 27 game against the Philadelphia Eagles and $15,450 for the same violation against the Carolina Panthers the next week. The next penalty for an untucked jersey would be $46,350.
The deal is worth up to $10 million for the remainder of the season, including $4.5 million guaranteed and a $1.5 million roster bonus, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Newton’s return created a buzz around the Carolinas that cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who grew up in nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, and played with Newton the past year and a half in New England, understands better than most.
“There’s a lot of important people in South Carolina and North Carolina, but Cam Newton is probably right up there at the top two or top one,’’ he said.
However, Tagovailoa was forced in to relieve an injured Brissett and helped the Dolphins to a 22-10 upset of the Ravens on Thursday Night Football.
Tagovailoa scored on a one-yard QB sneak late in the game to seal the victory.
“I think it’s tough, coming into a game second half. You’ve got to warm up, get your head in the right place,” Tagovailoa said in a FOX postgame interview. “But that’s the NFL.”
The Cowboys have managed to still get effective pass-rushing from its defense thanks to the performance of Gregory, who has recorded five sacks in 2021 and 29 quarterback pressures on just 177 pass-rushing snaps, good for a QB pressure rate of 16.4 percent, per Next Gen Stats. Tarell Basham has played in place of Lawrence, recording 13 pressures and one sack on 167 pass-rushing snaps.
Dallas could potentially move rookie linebacker Micah Parsons to an edge-rushing role to replace some of the production generated by Gregory, although there’s a legitimate question of whether that would be best utilizing the standout defender. Parsons has proven to be a sideline-to-sideline defender capable of making plays on every down, though he’s also been a very effective pass-rusher, matching Gregory’s sack total and currently standing at 22 QB pressures despite only playing 118 pass-rushing snaps.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
With three rookies starting on the Kansas City line, it was fascinating that PFF chose to rank it among the league’s best before a snap had been played. But now — with half of the 2021 season in the books — PFF sees it as an elite unit. Considering the effort the Chiefs put into rebuilding the line during the offseason, this is very good news.
But it’s also important to understand the specfics of PFF’s evaluation. Monson only references PFF’s overall grades for Kansas City’s offensive linemen. In its view, the Chiefs are substantially better at run blocking than they are at pass blocking. Among all offensive linemen in run blocking, Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humprhrey, Trey Smith and Lucas Niang rank 39th, 121st, fifth, 13th and 41st respectively — but against the pass, they are ranked 67th, eighth, 63rd, 130th and 174th. And after suffering an injury, Niang gave way to Mike Remmers (89th in run blocking, 146th in pass blocking) — who was in turn replaced by Andrew Wylie.