Based on the reactions of the most vocal Kansas City Chiefs fans to Sunday’s 34-28 victory over the Denver Broncos, we might have expected the team to fall in Week 15’s rankings. In two of them — one of them the ranking published by Mile High Report — it did. But in two others, the Chiefs moved up.
Here’s this week’s sampling:
(unchanged from 5)
The Chiefs opened Sunday’s matchup with the Broncos by scoring the game’s first 27 points, including the latest absurd Patrick Mahomes touchdown pass for the Canton reel. Then... things got weird. Mahomes threw an interception ... then another ... then one more, and Kansas City’s defense was left to fight off an unlikely Denver rally. A late third-quarter scoring pass from Mahomes to JuJu Smith-Schuster provided some breathing room, and the improving Chiefs pass rush (season-high six sacks) finished things off. “We beat them in the first half; they beat us in the second half,” defensive end Frank Clark said. “We just won the game. That’s the perfect way to describe it.” Thank you.
— Dan Hanzus
(unchanged from 2)
Special teams: 31
The Chiefs rank second in scoring at 29.5 points per game. And their defensive ranking is based largely on the strength of the pass rush, which has generated 42 sacks. But opponents still have a QBR against the Chiefs of 57, third highest in the league. Kansas City’s special teams are usually outstanding, but not this season: They’ve fumbled three punts, and their field goal rate of 77.8% is the fourth worst.
— Adam Teicher
Editor’s note: the rankings given are ESPN Football Power Index efficiency rankings. For comparison, Football Outsiders’ DVOA metrics currently rank Kansas City first in offense, 25th in defense and 15th in special teams.
The Athletic: 2
(unchanged from 2)
Potential 2023 free-agent target: Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt
Watt has quietly turned back the clock in 2022 with 6 1/2 sacks in 12 games for the Cardinals. Here’s how the top free-agent-to-be defensive linemen/edge rushers have produced in terms of hitting the quarterback per pass-rush snap this season. Only Watt’s teammate Zach Allen has been as productive of a pass rusher while doing it as frequently. Watt will be 34, which seems like the right time to ring-chase. And if you’re gonna ring-chase, Patrick Mahomes is the one to follow.
— Bo Wulf
(unchanged from 4)
Despite some big plays, the defense has to be better than it was against Denver if they are going to be a Super Bowl team. They actually made Russell Wilson look good.
— Pete Prisco
(down from 3)
Let’s not start picking apart Patrick Mahomes. Sure, he threw three interceptions against Denver. He also had 352 yards and three touchdowns and the Chiefs won. Let’s not forget that Mahomes lost Tyreek Hill, who will be an All-Pro this season and has a chance to break the NFL’s single-season receiving yards record, yet leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns. And the Chiefs are 10-3. Nothing against Jalen Hurts, but Mahomes still should be the MVP favorite, even as the odds flipped in Hurts’ favor.
— Frank Schwab
(up from 4)
The Chiefs had some interesting but more diverse offense in a tough matchup against the Broncos’ defense — and then decided to make big plays on the other side of the ball, too. Patrick Mahomes can look great even when he’s off.
— Vinnie Iyer
USA Today: 3
(up from 5)
Maybe it’s understandable that quarterback Patrick Mahomes gets bored and sloppy against Denver, a team he’s now 10-0 against. And Sunday’s no-look touchdown toss pairs well with the left-handed throw he made in the Mile High City years ago. But his three interceptions are a reminder to clean things up for a team that seems to have an easier path to the AFC’s No. 1 seed than Buffalo does.
— Nate Davis
(down from 2)
The Broncos played in one of the most surprising games of the week, and it was easily the most entertaining one they’ve played all year. They scored a touchdown on three straight drives, and even put up points in the third quarter — something thought to be impossible until last Sunday. And out of everything, the most surprising — yet expected — thing they did was notch yet another one-score loss. Nothing changes.
— Ross Allen