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5 things we learned from the Chiefs’ sloppy victory in New England

Not all wins are created equal — and Kansas City’s Sunday victory doesn’t inspire a lot more confidence.

NFL: DEC 17 Chiefs at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs traveled to Foxborough on Sunday afternoon to take on the New England Patriots. After heartbreaking back-to-back losses, this should have been a get-right game for Kansas City. It was an opportunity to silence all of the doubters and prove this team has what it takes to make another Super Bowl run. Instead, we were treated to another lackluster and mistake-ridden offensive performance.

Sure... the Chiefs won 27-10 — but you can’t help but think that this had more to do with how bad the Patriots are than it does with any sort of indication the Chiefs have figured things out.

1. Even if they won’t say it, the Chiefs’ stars must be frustrated

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

After last week's loss to the Buffalo Bills, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce both came out in the media in support of their teammates — with Kelce going as far as to say that the Chiefs have everyone they need to win a championship.

But now we have another week of this “Groundhog Day” offense under our belt. The same issues that have been plaguing it for the previous 13 games returned on Sunday. And it’s not like it’s different players making mistakes, either. Week in and week out, it’s the same cast of characters.

Of course, we should expect the team’s stars to publicly support their teammates. What else are they supposed to do?

These leaders can walk the line, saying all the right things — but when another careless mistake by receiver Kadarius Toney led to an interception on Sunday afternoon, the truth was written all over Mahomes’ face.

I can’t imagine Mahomes (and the locker room’s other leaders) having any faith in these guys any longer — and when they say they do, they’re just trying to be good teammates. After all, biting your tongue (and not pointing fingers) is part of what makes them great.

2. The team would be better off just cutting its losses

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The Chiefs can’t keep putting receivers Marquez Valdes Scantling, Skyy Moore, and Kadarius Toney on the field and expect positive things to happen. It’s madness.

Couldn’t just about any combination of players muster the 22 combined yards of offense these guys gave us on Sunday?

We have 14 games of experiential data. It says that when these guys are on the field, negative things happen. If we replaced Valdes-Scantling, Toney and Moore with practice squad receivers Cornell Powell, Montrell Washington and Daniel Arias, would there actually be any drop-off in production? Or would it be just a drop-off in turnovers?

At some point, you have to amputate the gangrenous leg, so that it doesn’t infect the entire body.

3. Harrison Butker is not perfect

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Heading into this game, Butker had made all 23 of his field goal attempts and all 34 of his extra-point attempts. But on Sunday, he missed a 39-yard field goal attempt five minutes into the first quarter. Butker would go on to make two more field goals and a trio of extra points.

Despite the miss, Butker is still having what is arguably the best year of any NFL kicker — and should be in the discussion for first-team All-Pro honors.

Butker’s stellar season has been overshadowed by the emergence of the Chiefs defense and the struggles of the offense — but make no mistake, is in the most butt-kicking form of his career.

It’s nearly guaranteed that Kansas City will need to lean on Butker’s leg at some point down the stretch. He’s having a career year at just the right time.

4. The Chiefs’ defense gets stronger as the game goes along

NFL: DEC 17 Chiefs at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are two ways to look at this game. The first is that the Kansas City defense started slow for a fourth straight week, allowing scoring opportunities on three of the Patriots' four first-half possessions.

But another (and more optimistic) view is that despite its slow starts, the Chiefs' defense is like a snowball rolling down the mountainside: as it rolls downhill, it grows larger and larger.

I’ll be honest: there were enough negative things about the offense on Sunday that I feel like we needed to see a silver lining. Sure... the Patriots are horrible — but the defense shut them down in the second half, holding them to just 58 yards of offense.

It’s very possible that this happened because the linebacking corps was back to full strength for the first time since Nick Bolton dislocated his wrist in October.

5. The streak continues

NFL: DEC 17 Chiefs at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This was the seventh straight game in which the Chiefs didn’t allow an opposing receiver to gain 100 yards. The Los Angeles Chargers’ wide receiver Josh Palmer amassed 133 yards on five receptions back in Week 7. Before that, you have to go back to the second game of the season, when the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Christian Kirk caught 11 balls for 110 yards against Kansas City’s secondary.

During this streak, the Chiefs have faced some of the game’s top pass-catchers — guys like Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs — and all of them have been disappointed by their stat lines against the Chiefs. In a pass-happy league where defenses are at a disadvantage, this is an achievement to be celebrated.

On an individual level, Kansas City’s second-year cornerback Trent McDuffie is on a 22-game streak (through Week 14) where he has not allowed 100 receiving yards in coverage.

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