Why the Chiefs have a legitimate shot at the top seed: This is contrary to how things have been since Patrick Mahomes became the starting quarterback in 2018, but the Chiefs’ reason for optimism is their defense. They have the NFL’s second-ranked scoring defense at 16.1 points a game, and if that keeps up, the team will stay in just about any game. And there’s reason to believe it will continue. The pass rush has surged in the past two games, giving the Chiefs 28 sacks for the season, tied for second most with the Bills, three behind the league-leading Ravens. Even in Sunday’s otherwise hideous loss to the Denver Broncos, the defense gave the Chiefs some hope into the fourth quarter.
Why they might be vulnerable: The offense hasn’t been as good as in previous years, and at times it has been awful. Wide receiver production outside of rookie Rashee Rice has been disappointing. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney were expected to be major contributors but have mostly been no-shows through half a season, combining for 45 catches, 504 yards and three touchdowns. Moore dropped a perfectly placed touchdown pass in the loss to the Broncos that could have sparked a comeback. Mahomes hasn’t been up to the task of lifting the passing game. He is headed toward a career-worst statistical season. He has his lowest passer rating (95.8) and is on pace for 17 interceptions, which would easily surpass the most in his career (13 in 2021). He’s on pace for a TD-to-interception ratio of less than 2:1, which would also be a career worst. — Teicher
ESPN BET : The Chiefs are the +250 betting favorite to win the AFC and +500 favorite to win the Super Bowl.
The Kansas City Chiefs are making waves on the international stage.
A half dozen organizations, including the Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC, are joining them.
“The first thing they recognize about Kansas City is Patrick Mahomes. It’s the Kansas City Chiefs, the Super Bowl champions,” said Derek Byrne of Visit Kansas City.
Now, the spotlight is turning towards soccer, and Kansas City is looking to seize the opportunity.
Germany is considering establishing a World Cup base camp in the United States, and leaders hope to make Kansas City its home.
Lorenzo Reyes: Chiefs 29, Dolphins 23
Kansas City, under Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, have been quite effective coming off losses. And while the narrative of Miami bullying bad teams is a bit overinflated, they also haven’t shown the ability to finish off the NFL’s top tier of teams. I think the difference here is the Chiefs defense, which — with all the attention paid to Mahomes and Travis Kelce — has sneakily been one of the league’s best.
Tyler Dragon: Chiefs 28, Dolphins 27
What a matchup for fans in Germany. The Chiefs’ issues at wide receiver reared its ugly head in Denver. The lack of consistent pass catchers not named Travis Kelce could prevent Kansas City’s from reaching another Super Bowl. But the Dolphins secondary is vulnerable. Miami has yet to defeat a team with a winning record.
Safid Deen: Dolphins 31, Chiefs 28
The Dolphins didn’t fare well against the Bills or Eagles, but facing the defending Super Bowl champs is their real litmus test. Tua Tagovailoa won’t need any reminders he has to feed Tyreek Hill in this one. Hill will be the X-factor in helping Miami beat his old pals Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Andy Reid and the Chiefs in a Frankfurt shootout on Sunday morning.
Many have openly wondered why such a big matchup will be played overseas. Regardless of the reason why, Chiefs veteran receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling isn’t a fan of the travel associated with playing an international game.
“Yeah, it sucks,” he said during a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports. “I mean, obviously it sucks that we have to travel nine hours for a home game when Arrowhead is right down the street. But obviously we do have other fans that are all over the world, not just in the United States. So it gives them the opportunity to see some of their favorite players play.
“I know we’ve got a lot of fans over in Germany, so I’m grateful that we get to give them that opportunity. But it does suck for the players to have to be away from their families, or (I’ve) got to find a babysitter for my dogs for a couple days. Things that we’ve got to take into account. But past that, it is what it is.”
Why did Chiefs and Dolphins end up in Germany instead of the United States? The reason were explained in NBC’s Football Morning in America column this week:
Kansas City wanted the game to be in Germany. Every team has to play a game at an international site once every eight years, and the Chiefs wanted their game to be in Germany since they have global marketing rights there.
Divisional games typically aren’t international games, so the Chiefs — the home team — were limited to six home opponents.
The Chiefs have a massive prime-time slate, with the Eagles, Bills, and Bengals on the schedule. All three were deemed late-season games by the league, with CBS getting the 4:25 p.m. doubleheader window in December for Chiefs-Bills and Chiefs-Bengals. Chiefs-Eagles was the “Monday Night Football” pick.
With the Chiefs having nine home games, six opponents were eliminated for an international game based on divisional matchups and three were eliminated for other television windows. The Dolphins, Bears, and Lions were left. The Chiefs asked the NFL not to put the Bears matchup overseas since that would be the only time the Bears would play in Kansas City for eight years. The NFL was intrigued by the Lions for the NFL Kickoff Game ,so the Dolphins were the last opponent left.
The league lucked out with Kansas City and Miami as the first Germany game this year, though the Chiefs lost a home game as a result. With the AFC having just eight home games in 2024 (they have nine in odd-numbered years), the Chiefs weren’t giving up a home game next year to play overseas.
Later asked about his emotional expectations for the week, Hill discussed his mindset for Kansas City.
“I’m ready, man,” Hill said. “It’s just another game. I’m just excited to play against my old brothers. It’s just like if you’re in high school and you move to a different city, it’s still ball. At the end of the day, my job is to go out there and do what I’ve been doing all year, and that’s have fun, help lead this team, and create opportunities for whoever. I’m still going to be the same old Cheetah, baby.”
NFL WEEK 8 TAKEAWAYS
The Chiefs generated just -0.35 expected points added (EPA) per play against the Broncos, 30th among the league’s 32 offenses and their lowest single-game mark of the season. The defense also struggled, ranking 31st in defensive grade (51.8) and 32nd in coverage grade (41.7).
BIGGEST RISER: DENVER BRONCOS
The Broncos have rattled off two consecutive wins, the latest coming against the defending Super Bowl champs. The Denver defense held a reportedly flu-ridden Patrick Mahomes to nine offensive points and didn’t allow a single offensive touchdown in Week 8.
Vance Joseph’s group has slowly turned things around after a historically bad start to the season, allowing an average of 15 points per game in the last three weeks, with two of those games coming against the Chiefs.
One small reason for concern has definitely been how much Sean Payton has been trying to hide Russell Wilson. Wilson has eclipsed 30 pass attempts just once in the last five weeks, with Denver producing a -2.85 pass rate over expected in that span.
Around the NFL
All it took was a nine-hour flight, a day to themselves for Miami Dolphins players to explore a new country and a night to get rested for the week of practice in Germany.
The Dolphins decided to travel over the Atlantic Ocean early in the week ahead of facing the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s NFL international series showdown in Frankfurt. The decision has drawn rave reviews from players who had their Tuesday off day to knock out some sightseeing before it becomes business as usual for a Wednesday-Thursday-Friday practice schedule leading up to Sunday — all while getting acclimated to the five-hour time difference, which becomes six hours Sunday morning.
Following Wednesday’s practice at PSD Bank Arena, the Dolphins were ingratiating themselves with the German media.
Players took turns reciting phrases they have learned in their brief time in the country. Outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips, who has been to Germany before — but not Frankfurt — visiting an aunt who was stationed there in the military, proved he can count to 20 in German.
“Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn, elf, zwölf, dreizehn, vierzehn, fünfzehn, sechzehn, siebzehn, achtzehn, neunzehn, zwanzig,” Phillips reels off.
Fact-checked, via Google Translate, he nailed it.
As Antonio Pierce sees it, he was made for this role all along.
“I’ve been fortunate. I played at a high-level,” the new Raiders interim head coach told reporters on Wednesday. “Going back to my roots and coaching at Long Beach Poly. At high school, I was the head coach there. I was at the New York Giants in 2017 and then college (Arizona State) for four years. I had opportunities to leave and go to other organizations and decided not to.
“The short story and the matter of fact is I grew up in Compton, California. I was born a Raider. I was born with the Raiders rolling in the Coliseum in L.A. I was rolling with N.W.A. talking Straight Out of Compton, rocking Raider hats. So, when an opportunity came to work with Josh (McDaniels), (defensive coordinator) Pat Graham and Dave (Ziegler), I jumped on it. So, that’s what set me up for this. I was born this way.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Dolphins’ offense is captained by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who currently leads the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns, and passer rating. He has also been as efficient as anyone else, ranking second in yards per pass attempt and fourth in completion percentage.
He is also one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the league, going down less often than every other signal-caller besides Patrick Mahomes. That will counter a Chiefs’ defense that has heated up the quarterback. Defensive lineman Charles Omenihu described what makes Tagovailoa and Miami’s pass game so effective.
“Quick passes,” Omenihu answered to reporters on Wednesday. “He’s a rhythm, timing type of guy — then obviously has two guys that can stretch the defense. From college, that’s how he was: timing, accurate, and he can throw the deep ball. Good quarterback.”
Linebacker Drue Tranquill recognizes that aspect of the Dolphins’ offense as well. He will play a key role in stopping the run but also keeping his head on a swivel to get in the way of quick passes over the middle.
“He has one of the quickest releases in the NFL, statistically,” Tranquill shared with reporters on Wednesday. “We’re going to have to have good coverage on the back end and make it a one-dimensional game. If they’re allowed to run the ball and set up play action, it’ll be tough.”
A tweet to make you think
Patrick Mahomes is the only QB to throw past the sticks on a majority of his 3rd & long attempts since 2018. He has gained +128.0 EPA in these situations, more than double any other QB.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 1, 2023
: @MiamiDolphins at @Chiefs
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