• It sounds like the Chiefs are planning to stand pat at the deadline, which follows their pattern in recent years to keep draft capital intact—knowing they’ll need cheap labor to fill out the roster around their more expensive stars. And, yes, the receiver position has come up for them. But for now, the plan is to bank on recent second-rounders Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice developing.
D - Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes apparently had the flu going into this game, which makes sense, because he played like he had the flu. The Chiefs QB, who was constantly flustered by the Broncos defense, was inaccurate on a day where Kansas City’s offense turned the ball over five times. The nine points scored by the Chiefs was the team’s second-lowest total since Mahomes took over as the starter in 2018. The Chiefs defense did its best to keep this close — they had six sacks of Russell Wilson while also forcing a turnover — but it wasn’t enough in a game where Kansas City’s offense was simply broken. The Chiefs probably shouldn’t be too worried about this performance considering Mahomes had the flu, but if they play like this next week against the Dolphins, it might be time to start panicking.
If there is one area to be concerned about, though, it’s the Chiefs receiving corps—a group that gives the team absolutely nothing on key passing downs. Overall, Kansas City ranks 26th in EPA per play on throws to receivers, according to TruMedia. On passing downs, which include second- and third-and-long situations, Mahomes is averaging minus-0.05 EPA when throwing to his wideouts. That’s where you’ll find a significant difference between the 2023 passing game and the one that led the league in just about every metric in 2022.
JuJu Smith-Schuster emerged as the go-to guy when defenses sold out to stop Travis Kelce last season, and Kansas City has been unable to find a replacement for him. If the Chiefs look to make a deadline deal for a receiver, they don’t need to sell out to land a star. They just need to find a chain-mover—maybe even Smith-Schuster himself, who might be available after he got off to a slow start in New England. That should be more than enough to get this offense where it needs to go.
MOST INTRIGUING GAME OF WEEK 9
Miami Dolphins vs Kansas City Chiefs
There is a lot to love about this Week 9 game in Frankfurt, Germany, starting with the fact that it will play a serious role in who lands the top seed in the AFC playoffs. Both teams are 6-2 coming in and there should be plenty of offense. The Dolphins boast the most explosive unit in football, while the Chiefs have the best player in the game in quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Of course, there’s also the Tyreek Hill factor. This will be the first time the Dolphins wide receiver will face his former team since he was traded away after the 2021 season.
Kansas City Chiefs: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
The Kansas City Chiefs have already brought back one member of last year’s receiving corps. They should now see whether they can land JuJu Smith-Schuster from the New England Patriots on the cheap.
Smith-Schuster, who was inactive in Week 7, hasn’t been a significant piece of New England’s game plan. Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald reported last month that Smith-Schuster is on “increasingly shaky standing on the depth chart.”
With Smith-Schuster having only 14 catches on 25 targets, that statement tracks.
Like Mecole Hardman, Smith-Schuster is already familiar with Kansas City’s scheme and personnel. He caught 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns last season. Even if he might not be as prolific this season, he could be a contributor.
The Chiefs have only $4.8 million in cap space, but that’s more than enough to absorb Smith-Schuster’s $1.1 million base salary. The challenge would be convincing New England to eat the $7.9 million in dead money that it would be left with.
5. Chiefs (6-2)?
Sure, yes, a little hasty. But boy, did they look bad against the 3-5 Denver Broncos, losing 24-9. Patrick Mahomes was sick, the defense let Russell Wilson throw three touchdowns and the wide receivers piled up a few more killer drops. They’ve been winning shakily for a while now. I assume they get right, but not their best Sunday. Messy, even.
Add Now: WR Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears
The Chiefs already traded for Mecole Hardman, but it would make sense if they are still scouring the trade market for pass-catching options. Rashee Rice has shown some potential, but the Chiefs’ young group of players have yet to emerge as consistent week-to-week weapons.
Adding another veteran like Darnell Mooney would help the Chiefs be more consistent. He’s struggled to produce in the Bears offense this season, but he already has a 1,000-yard season on his resume. Andy Reid would find ways to take advantage of his deep speed.
2. Defensive end George Karlaftis compiled one of the best games of his young career.
The man at the center of the Chiefs’ defensive efforts on Sunday was George Karlaftis, who recorded 2.5 sacks (a career-best) and six pressures.
Karlaftis strip-sacked Russell Wilson at the end of the first half, setting up a Kansas City field goal that narrowed the deficit to just five points. He also combined with defensive lineman Charles Omenihu to sack Wilson on third down early in the third quarter, and he later sacked Wilson yet again on third down midway through the fourth.
The second-year edge rusher currently ranks seventh in the NFL in pressures with 39, and his six sacks rank thirteenth.
• Chiefs strengthen WR corps ahead of trade deadline: A deal for Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins might cost Kansas City a Day 2 pick but would bolster a lackluster receiving group.
Around the NFL
Six months after his selection in the first round was loudly scrutinized, Jahmyr Gibbs was celebrating in the Ford Field stands.
Gibbs broke loose and broke out with the best showing of his rookie campaign, highlighted by a 27-yard touchdown run that propelled the Detroit Lions to a 26-14 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday.
“You could tell he was feeling it,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said of Gibbs. “Every week he’s just gotten a little bit better and a little bit better. I thought last week was his best game, and this week certainly surpassed that. I think the more he gains his own confidence in his own abilities in this league, he’s just going to continue to grow. And I think this was kind of the tip of the iceberg, if you will, for what he’s able to do and going to be able to do. Really proud of him.”
The Minnesota Vikings remained in active discussions Monday about the best way to move forward following the loss of quarterback Kirk Cousins, who suffered a season-ending tear of his right Achilles tendon in Sunday’s 24-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
An MRI confirmed the tear, the Vikings announced Monday afternoon. But speaking shortly thereafter, coach Kevin O’Connell declined to name a starter for Sunday’s game at the Atlanta Falcons.
He indicated the team would add a quarterback in the next day or so, and would not rule out the possibility that the newcomer could ultimately become their starter for the bulk of the season.
“We’re still working through that,” O’Connell said.
Seahawks trade grade: B-
Seattle receives: Leonard Williams
Seattle certainly needed to bring in somebody to help the defensive line, and particularly the pass rush. Williams doesn’t have many sacks, but he is coming off his best pressure performance of the season (7) against the Jets and he is a very good athlete on the interior. Still, the Seahawks paid a high price for what is almost certainly a rental. Even with their 5-2 record, the need for talent up front, and the Giants eating a good portion of the contract, Seattle probably gave up more than was necessary for a player of Williams’ caliber.
Giants trade grade: A
New York receives: 2024 second-round pick, 2025 fifth-round pick
New York is picking up most of the $10 million remaining on Williams’ contract for this season, per NFL Media, but ... the Giants were going to pay out that money anyway. Williams’ contract voids at the end of the year and it was highly unlikely that he would remain in New York. That the Giants were able to get second- and fifth-round picks in exchange for his services is a nice bit of business. That’s especially true because they have so many holes on their roster.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Broncos totaled only 240 yards — and had been held to 14 points until a muffed punt return in the fourth quarter set them up to score their third touchdown. But Denver got itself into scoring position (and won in time of possession) by running the football early and often — totaling 153 rushing yards on 40 attempts. While the average of 3.8 yards was not noteworthy, the way the Broncos used their running game to dictate the game’s flow certainly was.
“They ran the ball really well on offense,” observed Kansas City safety Justin Reid in his post-game press conference, “and that was the biggest key to them having their success. We’re going to really need to tighten up the run game on the defensive side of the ball.”
Broncos’ running backs combined for 32 rushing attempts, hammering the Chiefs’ defensive over and over again. It took advantage of a Kansas City second level that was without linebacker Nick Bolton, who went on the team’s injured reserve list on Saturday. Bolton’s thumping play style was missed against the Denver offense — which was completely committed to the ground game.
Bolton’s effectiveness comes not only from his physicality, but also his mindset. Reid believes that on Sunday, the unit did lack some of that mentality.
“It wasn’t like guys had the wrong attitude,” noted the veteran safety. “You just have to go out there and be aggressive; when the opportunity is there to make a play, you just have to go out there and make [it].
A tweet to make you think
For the sake of football fans everywhere, not to mention Davante Adams' sanity, someone needs to trade for Davante Adams tomorrow.— nick wright (@getnickwright) October 31, 2023
And I'm not saying the Chiefs, that's not happening. Buffalo, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, hell even Houston, all would be way more fun.