Not Andy Reid’s finest night either. Reid earned a few groans when he settled for a field goal on the opening drive, facing a fourth-and-3 from the Denver 17-yard line. Perhaps Reid just wanted to get his offense some points — and confidence, amid a mild cold streak. But when Reid lined up for a field goal on fourth-and-2 from the Denver 6 on the Chiefs’ third drive, the crowd let him have it. Only problem was, the Chiefs faked it — and were stopped. Hey, maybe it’s just me, but if it’s fourth down and I’m not kicking, I want Patrick Mahomes’ hands on the ball. As it was, two red-zone trips only netted the Chiefs three points, and Denver was able to make it a one-score game with six minutes left. Reid also struggled as a play-caller, dialing up some other gadget plays that fell flat. You understand he wants to give his team a spark, but that was a lot of specials for a short-week game.
Why the Chiefs won
This game wasn’t about Andy Reid, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. It was the defense that stood out in Week 6. The defensive dominance started right from the jump, as the Broncos’ most successful drive in the first half went for a total of 34 yards. Wilson had just 37 passing yards in the first two quarters, and threw one of his two interceptions.
You have to remember, the Chiefs and Broncos came into this matchup ranked No. 9 and No. 10 in points scored per game (KC 25.6 ppg, DEN 24.2 ppg), but the Chiefs defense held Wilson, Sutton and Jerry Jeudy in check all game. The defensive line batted down multiple passes and got pressure on the quarterback, and the secondary stuck to their assignments with effective man-to-man coverage.
Now I know what you’re thinking: The Russell Wilson–led Broncos aren’t a good offense. But that just hasn’t been true. While the Broncos aren’t blowing up the scoreboard, they’ve been a bang-average offense this year. They ranked 16th in offensive DVOA and 12th in EPA per play coming into this week and have been the perfect barometer for what is and isn’t an efficient offense.
Spagnuolo’s defense made them look like a peewee team, specifically in the passing game. Wilson couldn’t even get to 100 passing yards on the night. He finished with a -11.7 CPOE (completion percentage over expected) and -0.37 EPA (expected yards added) per play, per rbsdm.com. The Chiefs picked Wilson off twice and hardly let him complete any passes beyond the line of scrimmage. It was a peak division “rivalry” big brothering.
On Thursday night, we watched how Reid’s Chiefs easily dispensed of a divisional opponent. The art was in the perceived effortlessness. We now talk about the Chiefs the way we used to talk about the Patriots, curious if something is wrong merely at the sight of a margin of victory that is less satisfying than our Las Vegas friends would lead us to believe. After Thursday night’s game, we should take this as a kind of a cue: It’s not just a thought that Reid could eventually usurp Belichick, but a very real possibility.
There is, obviously, a long way for Reid to go. But, the mundane nature in which the Chiefs swatted away another professional football team Thursday night, winning this one with strong situational defense (especially in short-yardage situations), shows again that Reid understands the need to constantly micro-evolve around the once-in-a-lifetime quarterback just like Belichick did. Perhaps, even better than Belichick did. This is an important factor to weigh when comparing the two coaches. To me, it’s really the main factor.
Is the Chiefs defense good?
Who would’ve thought that after six games, we’d be questioning which side of the ball is better for the Chiefs? Well, here we are.
Even against a bland Broncos offense, the Chiefs were impressive and potentially stole the game. While the Chiefs offense let the Broncos hang around, their defense prevented disaster, holding Denver to 197 yards of total offense and only eight points while recording four sacks and three takeaways.
The unit’s strong performance isn’t a mirage, either. The Chiefs have shut out teams in 12 quarters this season, the most of any defense in the NFL. Also, they’ve held three of six opponents to 10 points or fewer. That begs the question, is it time to crown the Chiefs D as good? Maybe.
Around the NFL
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the injury, Herbert said Wednesday he shouldn’t be restricted.
“I think there’s so much going on during the game that you’re probably not going to be worrying about it too much,” he said, via ESPN. “I think you’re just going to be worried about not getting tackled or not taking those hits. Whether it’s a scramble, it’s about being safe and getting down. That’s in the back of your mind.”
Herbert suffered the injury after throwing an interception in Week 4. The QB finished the game with a large splint on his hand and took snaps out of the shotgun. Having a bye last week helped ensure Herbert would be healthy for the matchup against offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s former club.
Asked what he’s expecting when that decision is made, Kittle said Thursday that he probably will have to pay for his wardrobe choice.
“Probably to get a fine,” Kittle said. “I wore a personalized T-shirt, maybe an inappropriate word. So it is what it is. It was a decision I made. If they want to fine me, they fine me.”
Kittle wore the shirt under his red No. 85 jersey during the Niners’ 42-10 win over the Cowboys. The gray shirt said “F--- Dallas” in blue lettering, and Kittle revealed it while celebrating running back Jordan Mason’s 26-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
2. Harrison Butker is the best kicker in the NFL
This time last season, Butker was recovering from an ankle injury that caused him to miss four of the first five games. He wasn’t 100% when he returned and would miss six field goals and three extra-point attempts in the regular season.
There were grumblings over whether the Chiefs rushed him back from his injury too soon. Former Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt was screaming from the rooftops that it was all Tommy Townsend’s fault.
Butker said in the offseason that he was over-kicking last year and that he went back to basics over the summer and just focused on striking the ball cleanly.
Fast forward to this season, and Butker is on the heaters to end all heaters.
*Knocks on wood*
But it seems like Butker can’t miss at the moment.
*Knocks on more wood*
It’s not just that Butker’s been accurate; he hit a 60-yard field goal on Thursday night with leg to spare. He’s one of three kickers this season who has made at least 10 field goals without missing an attempt or an extra point.
*Knocks on even more wood than that*
A tweet to make you think
We do some great things that none of the great NFL all-time teams COULD do.— Tom Childs (@tomchilds56) October 13, 2023
We also do some awful things that none of the great NFL all-time teams WOULD do.