Please note: With the Kansas City Chiefs on their bye week — and Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday — Arrowheadlines will not be published from Wednesday through Saturday. Our daily roundup of Chiefs news will resume on Monday, November 29. Happy Thanksgiving!
On Monday’s “First Things First,” FOX Sports’ Nick Wright explained how Kansas City’s Week 11 performance proves things are back on track and why all paths to the Super Bowl will go through Mahomes and the Chiefs.
“They’re the team to beat in the AFC. They are arguably the best team in the entire league. … I tried to warn you all!” Wright said.
“This team will — once it’s at full strength, gets its legs underneath it — be who they’ve been for now the fourth consecutive year, which is the scariest team in the NFL. … The Chiefs [have] the best quarterback in the conference, one of the two best coaches in the league, a home-field advantage that all of a sudden is vibrant again, and — dare I say — more swagger and confidence than all the other AFC teams put together.”
No one expected the defense would be the one to dig Kansas City out of the hole.
But the reality is that’s where the rebound started and it’s what’s sustained through the four-game winning streak. Third-year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo stayed the course, knowing reinforcements were coming after allowing 27 or more in each of the Chiefs’ first seven games. The points against since: 17, 7, 14, 9.
“He’s just solid,” said Reid of his long-time staffmate. “He’s not going to waver because he’s got confidence in his scheme, and I think getting to know the players better helps any coach. So you have new guys in there, you find out strengths and weaknesses, and you play the strengths and you work on their weaknesses. But Spags is a seasoned veteran to say the least, and a guy that’s a potential future head coach again. That’s how I see him.
“So that’s the kind of confidence that I have in him.”
Reid’s confidence that Spagnuolo would figure it out showed again against Dallas—gone are the blown coverages and missed tackles of September and October, and they are out without having cost Kansas City any of its trademark aggressiveness.
Kelce hauled in five catches for 74 yards on Sunday – all in the second half – to move into fifth place all-time in terms of receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history. The All-Pro tight end now has 8,702 receiving yards for his career, passing both Rob Gronkowski (8,668) and Greg Olsen (8,683) on Sunday. Only Tony Gonzalez (15,127), Jason Witten (13,046), Antonio Gates (11,841) and Shannon Sharpe (10,060) recorded more receiving yards at the tight end position.
He also found the end zone early in Sunday’s game, taking a direct snap and plunging ahead four yards for the second rushing touchdown of his career.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the unfortunate winner of the Weakest Taunting Call for Week 11. As the Kansas City Chiefs running back scored on an option pitch from Patrick Mahomes in the second quarter on Sunday, he pointed at Cowboys defender Luke Gifford. Yep, that’s a 15-yard penalty for taunting.
The point looks so mundane when you watch it in real time. You can probably find 100 examples of NFL players doing something similar over the last few years without getting flagged for it. This year, it’s a penalty almost every time.
NFL players: just keep your head down and show zero emotion playing this incredibly physically and emotionally demanding game. Do as much as raise a finger and that’s a 15-yard flag.
Around the NFL
The Buccaneers entered Monday night intending on making a statement, and they delivered. After falling to Washington and displaying a lack of defensive fight in Week 10, Todd Bowles’ defense answered the call Monday night, forcing three turnovers (two that mattered), harassing Daniel Jones and causing frequent chaos for New York’s offense. Even without Vita Vea, the Buccaneers were able to consistently collapse the pocket, putting Giants guard Will Hernandez in a clown suit on multiple occasions and neutralizing the threat of Saquon Barkley. Jones was often running for his life, and was only able to convert one of New York’s three fourth-down attempts. The Giants’ best shot at competing came as a result of a timely interception off a deflected pass, but from there, they watched their chance of an upset melt away because of a lack of an ability to do much of anything offensively. Bowles’ unit looked better than it has in weeks, and Monday night could be a jumping-off point for the Bucs much like Week 14 was for last year’s champs.
With rookie Justin Fields dealing with bruised ribs, the Chicago Bears are expected to start veteran Andy Dalton in Week 12.
Dalton, who was the team’s starter to begin the season, will likely get the start on Thursday against the host Detroit Lions, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
On Sunday, Dalton came on in relief of Fields and completed 11 of 23 passes for 201 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was Dalton’s first game action since Week 5 and Thursday will be his first start since Week 2. A three-time Pro Bowler with the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton signed with Chicago in the offseason on a one-year pact. The Bears are 1-1 with Dalton as a starter and 2-2 in games he’s appeared in.
While initial reports of Fields having bruised ribs indicate the rookie avoided a major injury, the short week points to Dalton being a safer play for the squad.
Cleveland Browns fans booed Baker Mayfield multiple times in the second half of Sunday’s 13-10 victory over the winless Detroit Lions.
Mayfield’s reaction to it?
“Those are probably the same fans that won’t be quiet while we’re on offense and trying to operate,” the Cleveland quarterback said Monday. “So, don’t really care.”
Mayfield declined to speak to reporters after a game in which he posted a QBR of 8.6 (on a 0-100 scale), the third-worst QBR performance of his career. Mayfield completed 15 of 29 passes for just 176 yards. He did toss a touchdown pass to Nick Chubb but also threw two interceptions, including one in the fourth quarter, which prompted a cascade of booing inside FirstEnergy Stadium and led to a Lions field goal.
The versatility of Taysom Hill will be showcased by the New Orleans Saints for seasons to come.
Hill and the Saints agreed to a contract extension for four years and $40 million with $22.5 million guaranteed for injury and $20 million fully guaranteed, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday.
Hill receives $10 million each season over the next four years and has upside and incentives if he ever becomes the Saints’ starting quarterback, Rapoport reported.
With Jameis Winston out for the season and Trevor Siemian having taken over the starting reins, Hill’s future as a starting QB would seem to be an uphill battle, but his ability to be a game-changer as the team’s Swiss army-knife, jack-of-all-trades option will remain a calling card of head coach Sean Payton’s offense.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs have won four consecutive games — which has boosted them into the top spot in their division. The latest victory was the most impressive: the Chiefs beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-9 to improve to 7-4, placing them only one loss behind the top seed in the AFC.
The turnaround has been highlighted by stellar defense — but quietly, the offense has gotten into a more effective, comfortable rhythm over the last month. That starts with Mahomes, who never bought the idea that a short stretch of poor play made him or his unit unfixable.
“I knew we were never broken as a team,” Mahomes assured reporters after the win over the Cowboys. “We have too many good players, too many special guys on this team that go through the process, even when there are bad times or good times. We’re still early in the season. I know we’ve gotten to that second half, but our goal was to be on top at the end of the season, it’s not to win the regular season.”
There is no trophy for having the best record in the NFL after 18 weeks. It gets the team a postseason bye and home-field advantage — but there are no guarantees it will matter if the team isn’t playing at their best.
Per PFF— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) November 22, 2021
This season, Charvarius Ward has only allowed a reception on 45% of the throws he was targeted in coverage. 18/40 tgts
That's an elite mark; there are only four (qualified) CBs in the NFL this season that have a rate lower than 50%#Chiefs