Winner: The House
Here’s my betting strategy: When a line seems good, I bet on it. When a line seems too good, I stay the hell away, because clearly somebody smarter than me knows something I don’t. That happened Sunday when the Chiefs were road favorites against the Colts. Kansas City had Patrick Mahomes, a 2-0 record, and a résumé that includes two Super Bowl appearances (with one win) since 2019. Indianapolis had whatever is left of Matt Ryan, no playoff wins since Andrew Luck retired, and an 0-1-1 record that included a tie against the sorry Texans and a 24-0 loss to the Jaguars. How could anybody expect this game to be close? The spread, for some reason, was 5.5 points. Less than a touchdown!
And so America hurled money at this ridiculous line. According to FanDuel, 91 percent of bets were on the Chiefs; at BetMGM, this was the most-bet game of the day, and the Chiefs were the most-bet team of the day, both in terms of bets and total cash. My boss put the Chiefs moneyline in what might be his “parlay of the year.” Everybody with a smartphone and a promo code had money on KC.
And the Chiefs ate it. They didn’t cover the spread, or even win the game. The Chiefs lost a game they dominated, allowing Indianapolis to score the game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds to go. Mahomes threw an interception after getting the ball back, and the Chiefs lost, 20-17.
Gus Bradley’s gameplan against Mahomes
After a slow start, the Colts’ defense finally came along and put together a masterclass against the Chiefs. Kwity Paye, DeForest Buckner, and Yannick Ngakoue combined for 14 pressures, while depth player Ifeadi Odenigbo contributed with 3 pressures on just 6 pass rushing snaps, which is crazy effectiveness. Holding Patrick Mahomes to 262 yards on 35 passing attempts, just a single touchdown, and his first interception of the season is an unbelievable performance from a defense that looked soft as Charmin against the Jaguars last week. Kudos to Bradley for having the defense ready to play, and it speaks well of him that depth players like Odenigbo, Rodney Thomas, and Rodney McLeod were able to perform so well after injuries forced them into action.
Use of Jelani Woods in the red-zone
The Colts were struggling a lot in the redzone to kick off the season, going just 2-7 in their first two games of the year, so things needed to change. Reich used rookie tight end Jelani Woods more in the redzone, and he caught two touchdowns, including the game-winning score with just 24 seconds remaining. Woods is massive, standing 6’7’’, so using that big frame when the Colts’ offense needs just a few yards to score is essential for maintaining this level of success.
4. Chiefs shocking loss
“Any given Sunday” isn’t just a phrase, it’s a reality. The Chiefs looked like a top two or three team coming into Week 3, as they were undefeated and set to play probably the worst team they had faced yet this season in the winless Indianapolis Colts. Frank Reich and Matt Ryan tied with the Houston Texans in Week 1, and then were completely blown out by the Jaguars in Week 2. This was going to be an easy win for Kansas City. Right?
No, the Colts escaped with a 20-17 victory. Ryan led a 16-play, 76-yard game-winning drive that lasted over eight minutes. It was capped by a Jelani Woods touchdown catch with just 24 seconds remaining — the rookie’s second touchdown catch of the game. As for why the Chiefs lost, there were multiple reasons. The offense didn’t look explosive, the rushing attack went nowhere and there were untimely penalties and turnovers. One series that stood out was when the Chiefs, up by four points, attempted a fake field-goal pass on fourth down at the Colts’ 24-yard line early in the fourth quarter. They didn’t convert the first down, and ultimately lost by three. That’s tough.
Expect the unexpected in this league.
After the game, referee Shawn Smith indicated to a pool reporter the penalty was for “abusive language toward an opponent.” I have my misgivings about penalties for language on the football field, and it’s disappointing to see such a pivotal moment in a game determined by a referee’s opinion of what might have hurt Ryan’s feelings. It also seems like a rule that should be easy to avoid invoking in a key situation. Jones is a great player but getting penalized in that moment was a disaster.
It’s a shame, too, because this was otherwise an incredible performance by the Chiefs defense. They allowed a touchdown on that 4-yard field in the first quarter and otherwise limited the Colts to 134 yards of offense through the first three quarters. Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo seemed to be a step ahead of Ryan and coach Frank Reich, as the Chiefs sacked Ryan five times, knocked him down 10 times and seemed to have a steady stream of unblocked blitzers running free at the quarterback. When a team allows one drive of more than 50 yards all game, its defense typically has done enough to win.
Around the NFL
Dallas’ defense is more than just Micah Parsons. The second-year linebacker is an absolute game-wrecker, but Monday night truly belonged to Demarcus Lawrence. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn played around with Lawrence’s alignment for much of the night, causing issues for New York’s maligned offensive line, and Lawrence capitalized to the tune of three sacks and four pressures. Parsons chipped in four more pressures, with the two teaming up with Dorance Armstrong (four pressures, one sack) to harass Jones all night. Dallas finally took advantage of the success up front when Diggs made a diving interception to seal the win, capping a night that should make Quinn proud of his unit’s consistent ability to make a difference. It’s going to matter much more in the weeks ahead.
The news makes Sunday’s defeat even more costly. Slater had a stellar rookie season and entrenched himself as Los Angeles’ left tackle of the future, a long-term protector of franchise quarterback Justin Herbert. Unfortunately for the Chargers, a week after Herbert suffered a painful rib cartilage injury, his blindside blocker sustained an even more serious injury that will likely end his campaign after just three games.
Slater finished the 2021 season with a strong Pro Football Focus offensive grade of 83.6, and through three weeks, was on his way to an even better second year with a grade of 84, a mark powered by excellent run-blocking ability. Instead of continuing at a strong pace, the biceps injury will end his sophomore season in its first month.
The new event will replace the full-contact showcase started in 1951. It will be renamed “The Pro Bowl Games” and will feature AFC and NFC players showcasing their football and non-football skills in challenges over several days. The 2023 Games will be held in Las Vegas, and the flag football game at Allegiant Stadium is Feb. 5.
Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions company will help shape programming and promote the event’s content throughout the week. Manning, a 14-time Pro Bowl pick during his Hall of Fame career, will provide his perspective and will also be a part of the coaching staff for flag game.
“The Pro Bowl is something that we’ve been looking at for a while, really continuing to evolve,” NFL executive Peter O’Reilly told The Associated Press. “Coming out of last year’s game, we really made the decision based on a lot of internal conversations, getting feedback from GMs and coaches, getting a lot of feedback from players. We think there’s a real opportunity to do something wholly different here and move away from the traditional tackle football game. We decided the goal is to celebrate 88 of the biggest stars in the NFL in a really positive, fun, yet competitive way.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Trading Hill was a move that had to be made for this roster’s future. The trade made the 2022 Chiefs worse, but it improved the fate of the 2023 roster and beyond. Sure, the Chiefs have seen their struggles on offense with Hill, and many will point to just last season, as the Chiefs struggled in October and November.
The 2022 offense needed to be better than it was in the 2021 AFC championship. Taking away Hill was a massive step back for the floor of this offense. Sure, one can squint and see a situation where they were as good as last year offensively. But being better than 2021 (fourth in overall offense) seems less than likely.
The problem with the analysis of Hill is many analysts look at the Chiefs without him and think they’ve lost the ability to stretch teams vertically. But the addition of Marquez Valdes-Scantling will continue to force teams to respect the deep threat. Even Hardman commands respect from coverage based upon his speed alone.
“Ultimately, the game was decided by what really matters: a referee overhearing a naughty word.”
“Well, that’s the last time we find our kicker on LinkedIn.”
“We always struggle against young, mobile quarterbacks.”
“Mahomes was distracted by Andrew Luck sipping Mai Tais, raving about the joys of early retirement.”
“Never should’ve let Nathaniel Hackett coach our special teams.”
“Chris Jones blew the game by becoming the first player in NFL history to swear.”
“We told Skyy he should drop a “y” from his name — and well, we guess he misheard.”
“In hindsight, maybe the pre-game Jagermeister was a bad idea.”
A tweet to make you think
There’s a lot here. What did the #colts do defensively that worked so well? Also, what’s up with the #chiefs offense these last two games? Is it a real problem? A few interesting notes. My report NFL NOW on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/IfckTPhrxY— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) September 26, 2022