Last Sunday, after holding the Raiders in a vise in a 48-9 beatdown, the 2021 Chiefs became the first team to accomplish that four-in-five stretch since the Legion of Boom pulled it off. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense held the Packers to seven points in Week 9, the Raiders to 14 points in Week 10, the Cowboys to nine points in Week 11, the Broncos to nine points in Week 13, and the Raiders to nine points in Week 14. Outside of the Broncos, that’s a bunch of generally high-powered offenses that turn very normal when they meet this defense.
Interestingly enough, the Chiefs’ defense bottomed out in the second half of the 2020 season, dropping from 14th to 29th in Defensive DVOA, and the uptick wasn’t nearly as significant in 2019, the team’s Super Bowl-winning season, when the defense moved from 16th to 11th. This season? The Chiefs ranked 28th in Defensive DVOA in Weeks 1-9, and only the Patriots have a better Defensive DVOA since Week 10. They’re third in Defensive DVOA behind the Patriots and Cowboys since Week 6, so this isn’t an in-season blip that can be ignored.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4)
FPI chances to make playoffs: 95.6%
FPI chances to win division: 61.4%
Nothing happened Sunday to stop growing public sentiment that the Chiefs will once again finish the season at the top of the AFC. Sunday’s demolition of the Raiders was their sixth consecutive victory and brought the Chiefs even, in terms of record, with the Patriots and Titans. At the moment, the Chiefs come out third in the three-way tiebreaker because of conference record and head-to-head tiebreakers.
Now comes a massive divisional game at the Chargers. A loss would drop the Chiefs into the wild-card race. A win wouldn’t clinch the AFC West, but the Chiefs would be able to neutralize the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Chargers.
Next up: at Chargers
Why the Chiefs can cover
Las Vegas players marched to center field and stood on Kansas City’s logo prior to kickoff in their Week 14 matchup. In response, the Chiefs came out and completely owned the Raiders, blowing them out 48-9. Kansas City outgained Las Vegas 372-290 in the rout.
Patrick Mahomes was stellar against Las Vegas, completing 20-of-24 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns. Kansas City’s rushing attack also cooked on Sunday afternoon, finishing with 132 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Derrick Gore led Kansas City with 61 rushing yards, including a 51-yard carry for a score. Clyde Edwards-Helaire added another two rushing touchdowns.
4. Chiefs (9-4)
They’re riding a quiet six-game win streak even though Patrick Mahomes has only shown spurts of his MVP-caliber self. That speaks volumes about Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, which has been all over the ball for weeks.
The #Chargers activated WR Keenan Allen from the COVID list, per the wire.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 14, 2021
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The large increase stems from a lowered 2021 cap due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous cap in 2020 was $198.2 million, but because teams played in front of limited or no crowds last season, the 2021 cap was adjusted accordingly and reduced to $182.5 million, its lowest mark since 2018. That required teams to get somewhat creative in efforts to be in compliance with the cap, and led to some veteran free agents preferring one-year contracts in order to take better advantage of the expanded cap for 2022.
Free agency will be bonkers this year https://t.co/jnDbi7cwMB— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) December 14, 2021
In addition to Beckham, defensive back Terrell Burgess, tight end Brycen Hopkins, defensive back JuJu Hughes, offensive tackle Alaric Jackson, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and safety Jordan Fuller were added to the list, while defensive end Jonah Williams and defensive back Tyler Hall were also added as practice squad members.
The Cleveland Browns on Tuesday placed eight players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including four offensive starters in five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry, offensive guard Wyatt Teller, tight end Austin Hooper and left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.
Defensive end Takk McKinley, punt returner JoJo Natson, backup guard Drew Forbes and reserve tight end Ross Travis also were placed on the list.
All eight players are vaccinated, a source told ESPN.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
11. Indianapolis Colts (10th)
On Saturday night... we’re all Colts fans.
12. Baltimore Ravens (9th)
Another team in danger of missing out on the postseason. They are simply too beat up.
13. San Francisco 49ers (14th)
Entrenched in the NFC wildcard spots. I don’t think any team will like coming up against them — purely because of how unpredictable they are.