The connection between Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce was as good as it has ever been. Kelce’s 12 catches tied a career high while his 172 receiving are the second-most in a game of his career. Mahomes put up 424 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception on 32 of 42 passing in total. The Chiefs defense did what they do best once again, holding their seventh consecutive opponent to 21 or fewer points. They are the only team to do so in all of their games this season. The only reason the Chiefs don’t receive an “A” grade is because they were unable to score for the majority of the second half.
Chiefs Quietly Field One of the NFL’s Stingiest Defenses
Lost in all the buzz about tight end Travis Kelce’s relationship with Taylor Swift and Patrick Mahomes’ wizardry from the pocket, the Kansas City Chiefs have a top-notch defense that’s helped them win several games.
Through six weeks, the Chiefs defense ranked second in scoring and fifth in total yards. On Sunday, the unit only gave up two touchdowns, forced two turnovers and sacked Justin Herbert five times.
Kansas City put together a strong outing on both sides of the ball in a 31-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, but one can make the case that its defense has consistently played at a higher level than the offense this season.
This marks the first time since Justin Herbert took over as quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers that a game against the Kansas City Chiefs was decided by a differential of more than six points. At this point, one point remains painstakingly clear as we approach the trade deadline: the Chargers have regressed in Brandon Staley’s third year as head coach.
The Chargers should have some difficult conversations behind closed doors, as they have one week until the trade deadline comes and goes. The current configuration of the roster leveraged future cap health to pry the Bolts’ championship window open one more year before they’d have to replace some core players on both sides of the ball.
Winner: The Mahomes-Kelce combo
Welcome back, boys! We know Brandon Staley’s defense can’t be counted on for, you know, much defense. But the Chiefs’ superstars were in full stride against their rival Chargers on Sunday. Patrick Mahomes had well over 300 yards through the air by halftime, finishing with four scores while feeding Travis Kelce in front of you know who. The latter started 2023 on a bit of a slower note while battling injuries, but he made 12 catches for 179 yards and a TD look casual while skating past Los Angeles.
The Chiefs offense came alive on Sunday after spending most of the season under their lofty expectations. Mahomes was 32 of 42 for 424 yards and four touchdowns against the Chargers. The best part of the Chiefs’ offensive production wasn’t Travis Kelce going for 179 yards … it was the rest of the receiving core finding a connection with Mahomes. Rashee Rice and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both had explosive receptions and touchdowns. These connections will continue to grow the Chiefs offense back into what we’ve become accustomed to. Kansas City is 6-1 with the arrow pointing up. It’s a great spot to be in.
3. And speaking of an MVP race that has yet to really crystallize, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (424 yards, 4 TDs passing) and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson (357 yards, 3 TDs passing, 36 yards and a TD rushing) – both previous winners of the award – may have officially declared their candidacy Sunday, opportune timing given the unimpressive night Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa had.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Biggest Need: Wide receiver
The Pick: WR Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State
Big board analysis: Egbuka is a smooth route-runner who can operate from the slot or on the outside. His game is very well-rounded, as he can separate vertically and find a soft spot versus zone.
Around the NFL
The Patriots (2-5) were on the cusp of letting a game they led for large stretches slip away from them before Jones engineered an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive after taking over with 1:58 left on the clock. Jones hit tight end Mike Gesicki on a 1-yard pass with 12 seconds remaining.
It was the type of final drive that Patriots fans had grown accustomed to during Tom Brady’s playing days but had mostly been elusive for Jones, who is in his third season.
“I want to continue to do that and make people believe,” Jones said.
Jones was 11-of-13 for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He finished 25-of-30 for 272 yards with the two touchdowns and no interceptions, and his 83.3 completion percentage was the third highest in franchise history in a game with at least 30 pass attempts.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters after the game that it was his decision to keep Watson on the sideline despite him being cleared after undergoing an evaluation for a concussion.
“I just did not want to put him back out there,” Stefanski said. “I wanted to protect our franchise quarterback.”
Watson told reporters that he wanted to go back in the game as a “competitor” but he understood the decision.
“I want to go out there and try to help the team as much as possible. Go out there and play and perform and compete,” Watson said, via BrownsZone.com. “The decision was best for the team. They felt that was the best. PJ [Walker] did a great job of finishing the game.”
Why the Dolphins lost
Miami committed 10 penalties against zero for the Eagles. The Dolphins’ league-leading running game was completely shut down as Raheem Mostert carried four times for -7 yards in the first half, and pretty much the entirety of his production on the night came on two carries. Tua Tagovailoa was held to a season-low 6.8 yards per attempt, and the demoralizing deep touchdowns the Dolphins have typically demolished teams with were not there for the taking for most of the night. Basically, the Dolphins offense just did not look like itself.
They were roaring right along. Then they slammed right into a butt-kicking on Sunday.
“Those guys, they played well. They kicked our ass,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of the Baltimore Ravens after their 38-6 throttling of Detroit. “It’s a credit to them.”
Winners of four straight and 3-0 on the road heading into Sunday, Detroit was stopped cold as host Baltimore rolled early to a 28-point first-half lead and never looked back.
Detroit ran 72 plays in the game but netted just 337 yards. In contrast, the Ravens recorded a mind-spinning 9.1 yards per play, spearheaded by a stellar showing from Lamar Jackson, who had 357 yards and three touchdowns through the air and also rushed for 64 yards and a score.
“Lamar beat us,” Campbell said. “He hammered us with his arm. He threw the ball extremely well. He ran when he needed to, and we did not handle it well.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Wide receiver and returner Mecole Hardman: Box score scouts and anyone desperate enough to start Hardman in fantasy football may have been disappointed in Mecole’s game. But his impact was obvious to those watching, from the 50-yard punt return to the tough catch for the final first down of the game for the Chiefs. Hardman is back.
Linebacker Willie Gay Jr.: Gay was everywhere against the Chargers. Five tackles and a sack was already a solid day before he jumped into the Arrowhead sky and batted down a pass in the fourth quarter, nearly coming up with an interception for himself or a teammate — and forcing a punt to set up Mecole Hardman’s big return and the touchdown that put this game out of reach.
Linebacker Drue Tranquill: Getting to face his former team as a captain was probably the third-best thing that happened for Drue Tranquill Sunday afternoon. Getting a sack against Justin Herbert to help close out the game must have been a huge thrill as well. But walking away a winner and contributor in his first time facing the Chargers had to be the best feeling for the Chiefs’ linebacker.
A tweet to make you think
Bro Grayson Waller & Austin Theory just did the Taylor Swift handshake... pic.twitter.com/dkcmv6IYeq— Rony Mac (@TheRONYBrand) October 23, 2023