17. How long can the Kansas City Chiefs defense survive without Chris Jones?
We didn’t really get a chance to find out. The Chiefs and Jones restructured his deal a week into the season, and that was enough to get the star defensive tackle to end his holdout. But while other players along the defensive line have raised their games, Jones hasn’t been his typical dominant self this season, so I’d imagine Kansas City’s top-five defense would be doing just fine if he were still on the couch.
This is one of the better units in the NFL. It’s clearly the best defense Mahomes has ever played with, as he said after its dominant performance in the 21-14 win over the Dolphins in Germany. Kansas City took the obvious approach to disrupt Miami’s offense: attacking the line of scrimmage on early downs, when McDaniel likes to dial up screens, perimeter runs, and receiver end arounds. Then on third down, the Chiefs mixed up their coverages but mostly played with just one safety deep, and relied on four- and five-man rushes to create pressure. This wasn’t some galaxy-brain game plan by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. It was a sharp one that was well executed. The corners stayed tight with Miami’s impossibly quick receiving corps. The linebackers played quickly and physically against the run. The safeties did their jobs. The Chiefs defense was just better than the Dolphins offense.
The pass rush was a team effort, which hasn’t always been the case for Kansas City. Edge rushers George Karlaftis and Charles Omenihu led the team with five and two pressures, respectively, while Jones chipped in with two. Kansas City’s pass rush has been less reliant on its star in the middle this season, and Sunday’s game followed that trend. Jones didn’t have a proper training camp or preseason. He joined the team in Week 2 and could ramp things up by the time we hit January. If he does that, the defense should continue to be one of the NFL’s best. At the very least, it’s a more balanced unit—from front to back—and one more capable of handling the league’s most dynamic threats.
“Sunday’s game in Frankfurt is a culmination of several years of work by a great team of people,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. “We have sponsors. We’ve done a number of activations.”
Those initiatives include:
During the 2022 NFL Draft, former soccer player Oliver Bierhoff officially announced the Chiefs’ fourth-round selection of Joshua Williams from a Chiefs draft party in Munich.
In June of 2022, the Chiefs and SPORTFIVEIVE -0.1%, a global sports marketing agency with regional hubs in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich, agreed on a comprehensive partnership to help grow their fanbase and business opportunities in Germany.
The Chiefs organized German watch parties for the 2022 game in Munich, the 2022 Chiefs postseason run and the 2023 season opener.
They named the ChampionShip boat in honor of the club’s three Super Bowl titles, and it drew fans — along with Saturday night appearances by KC Wolf, former Chiefs Christian Okoye and Dante Hall, the Hunt family, Chiefs president Mark Donovan and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The Chiefs formed partnerships with several companies. Burger King Germany, for instance, features special Chiefs packaging, giveaways, social media assets and even an official “Chiefs Burger.”
Add Now: WR Marquez Callaway
The Chiefs let the trade deadline come and go without adding a wide receiver. They are still one of the best teams in the league, but they might come to regret that. Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Justin Watson and Richie James all made appearances on the Chiefs’ injury report last week with various ailments.
Marquez Callaway is one of the best free-agent options available. The 26-year-old had a strong 2021 campaign which included 698 yards and six touchdowns. He’s at least worth a look for a team that needs receiver options.
31. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: WR JA’LYNN POLK, WASHINGTON
Polk has evolved into one of the most impressive deep-threat and contested-catch players in college football. In Washington’s vertical offense, he’s hauled in eight of his 11 contested opportunities and caught 96.5% of the catchable passes thrown his way. He would be a welcomed and reliable vertical threat for Mahomes and company.
MVP: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Runner-up: Eagles QB Jalen Hurts
David Helman: Patrick Mahomes has some work to do if he’s going to win his second straight MVP and his third overall. Nine games into his 2023 campaign, Mahomes is 500 yards and eight touchdowns off his pace from last season. He’s also on pace to throw more interceptions this season.
At the same time, he’s still the league’s best quarterback, playing for the reigning champs. Maybe most importantly, few of his primary competitors for the award are distancing themselves from the pack. For all the concern about the Chiefs, they’re tied for the best record in the AFC and are on pace for 13 wins. Mahomes ranks near the top of the league in all the pertinent quarterback metrics — including advanced ones like EPA, success rate and completion percentage over expected.
Chiefs have the best defense in the AFC
Overreaction or reality: Overreaction
The Chiefs defense is very good, evidenced by the 14 points and 292 yards the unit held the Dolphins to in Sunday’s 21-14 victory in Frankfurt, Germany. Kansas City is fourth in the NFL in yards allowed (287.8), second in passing yards (176.1), and second in points per game allowed (16.1). The defense is the biggest catalyst toward Kansas City’s 7-2 start and why the Chiefs could go back to the Super Bowl again.
Thanks to the Ravens, the Chiefs defense isn’t the best in the AFC. Baltimore is allowing the fewest points per game (15.1) and the second fewest yards (276.5). The Ravens also are first in goal-to-go situations (40%) and second in red zone conversion rate (35%).
Kansas City deserves to be in the conversation, but Baltimore is better.
2 -Steve Spagnuolo
Kansas City Chiefs · DC
The Chiefs have their best defense of the Patrick Mahomes era and Spagnuolo is making the most of his resources each week. Only one team has scored more than 21 points against Kansas City all season. Miami boasts the league’s top offense, but the Dolphins managed just 14 points in the Chiefs’ win in Germany on Sunday. The difference in that contest turned out to be a forced fumble caused by cornerback Trent McDuffie that safety Bryan Cook ultimately returned 59 yards for a touchdown. You also could argue that Kansas City won at least two other games in the first half of this season because its defense was equally clutch.
Around the NFL
Chargers find a way to win ugly. Let’s keep it simple: Los Angeles scored 27 points and won by 21 while totaling just 191 yards of offense. That’s the kind of night it was for the Chargers, who found the going to be rather difficult against a notoriously stingy Jets defense that certainly its job. Austin Ekeler found some early success and scored two touchdowns, but finished with just 47 yards on 14 carries. Keenan Allen led the Chargers in receiving with 77 yards, while Justin Herbert posted a passer rating of 65.4. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win, one Los Angeles can be proud of for the way its defense (and special teams) rose to the occasion.
Murray, who hasn’t played since Week 14 of the 2022 season when he tore his right ACL three plays into a “Monday Night Football” game against the New England Patriots, will take all the reps with the first-team offense and continue to “ramp up,” Gannon said.
“Pleased where he is at right now,” Gannon said. “We’ll see how the week goes.”
The plan is to activate Murray on Wednesday, the final day of his window to be promoted to the 53-man roster after coming off the physically unable to perform list. Should Murray not be able to go Sunday, rookie Clayton Tune will get his second straight start, Gannon said.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Cornerback Trent McDuffie: Typically, when a cornerback leads the team in tackles (10), it’s a bad sign for the defense. But maybe not when it’s McDuffie doing the tackling. With the second quarter clock winding down and the Dolphins in Chiefs territory, No. 22 came flying into the backfield to hit wide receiver Tyreek Hill and simultaneously strip the ball. It was a pivotal, game-changing play that nearly put it out of reach. McDuffie is making his case for a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection in his second season.