In Sunday’s Week 3 game, the Kansas City Chiefs needed to come out and make a statement. Simply defeating the Chicago Bears — a team that had been through a tumultuous week — was not going to be enough. To prove the Chiefs’ aspirations for winning another Super Bowl were legitimate, they needed to show the distance between themselves and a team like the Bears.
And boy... did they ever! If the NFL had a mercy rule, it would have been called before Kansas City finished stomping Chicago 41-10.
Here are five things we learned from the game.
1. The Chiefs are Westside Kings once more
For the first time in the 2023 season, the Chiefs are back where they belong: sitting atop the AFC West. On the heels of seven straight division titles, the team has been fighting its way back to this position after dropping its Week 1 game to the Detroit Lions.
The Kansas City offense may still be a work in progress. But paired with what might be the Chiefs’ best defense since 1998, it has the ingredients to develop into the most complete team of Andy Reid’s Kansas City tenure.
Now let’s add in the rest of Sunday’s results. The Denver Broncos gave up the most points in an NFL game since 1966. Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach Josh McDaniels seemed content to throw a game away by kicking field goals. The Los Angeles Chargers had a win gifted to them through some poor decision-making by the Minnesota Vikings.
With all of that, it’s hard to see a world where seven consecutive titles doesn’t turn into eight. But of course... it’s still early in the season — and just as it is in every year, the West is not enough. We want the whole enchilada. Or as head coach Andy Reid might say... all the nuggies.
2. Trent McDuffie deserves some respect
This Chiefs’ defense may have only one superstar — but it also has loads of up-and-coming protostars who are just beginning to heat up. Out of this developing galaxy, the player who might end up shining the brightest is the team’s second-year cornerback.
Through three games, McDuffie has held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating under 80 while allowing less than 100 total yards receiving.
Trent McDuffie is much closer to a L’Jarius Sneed type of impact than I ever thought he could be— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) September 24, 2023
2 forced fumble turnovers this year, 2nd on the team in tackles today..
Plus he’s Elmer’s glue in coverage
The things that make McDuffie special, however, go beyond his coverage skills. He’s also a good blitzer from the slot — and he’s fearless in run support.
Like many other young players on the Kansas City defense, the former first-round pick has only scratched the surface of his potential. If he continues to develop like this, the Chiefs could have a lockdown corner for years to come.
3. Jawaan Taylor has to change
Kansas City’s starting right tackle continues to be targeted by NFL referees for not lining up too far behind the line of scrimmage.
Do I think it’s bogus most of the time? Yes... I do.
Do I think the officials are picking on him unfairly? Sure.
Do other linemen get away with the exact same thing? You bet they do!
Does it matter? Nope... not one bit.
There’s a simple solution: Taylor has to adjust. He just can’t keep getting flagged for this.
Just before the end of Sunday’s first half, a long passing touchdown to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was called back for Taylor lining up behind the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Bears edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue fell into quarterback Patrick Mahomes' lower leg and rolled his ankle. While Mahomes was able to stay in the game, it never should have happened.
For the record I don’t think Jawaan should be this close (far back I guess?) where they can call it. The responsibility is on him to fix the alignment and not have it close enough where it can be flagged. Look to the side and get a thumbs up from the ref every play if you need to— Mitchell Schwartz (@MitchSchwartz71) September 24, 2023
Just like former Kansas City right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is pointing out, it doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not. Before every play, Taylor should verify with the officials to make sure he is lining up in a position where he won’t draw the flag.
The Chiefs simply have too much cash invested in Taylor for him to not work out. He is their right tackle — both now and in the future. And despite the flags, he’s actually played really well.
At the end of the day, it might not be fair. But the onus is on him: He must change.
4. “Swelce” is actually a thing
Rumors have been swirling for weeks. Megastar Taylor Swift and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce have been “hanging out.”
But what does that even mean? Are they just friends? Are they crushing on each other? Is it more of a Netflix-and-chill thang?
At first, everything was very hush-hush. But last week on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Kelce said that he had invited Swift to watch a Chiefs game. He didn’t say it would be Sunday’s game, but speculation began to build anyway.
And then... there she was — hanging out in an Arrowhead suite with... his mother.
Taylor Swift is HERE for the Chiefs game pic.twitter.com/46SW4gEodz— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 24, 2023
That’s right: Kelce brought Swift home to meet his mother.
By the looks of things, she fit right in. She even did a chest bump after the Chiefs scored a touchdown.
Taylor doing a chest bump as Chiefs score a touchdown pic.twitter.com/hgc0cCrAsO— Taylor Swift Updates (@SwiftNYC) September 24, 2023
But does she actually like him?
Watch her celebrate after he scores.
TOUCHDOWN TRAVIS KELCE!— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 24, 2023
Taylor loves it in the box! ❤️
: FOX pic.twitter.com/bs3uEhWbOn
Now, I’m not a professional lip reader, but her reaction seems pretty real to me.
5. The receivers will get where they need to be
Mahomes and Reid are like two sculptors who are working on a new masterpiece. In this case, the giant block of granite they’re carving is Kansas City’s young receiving corps.
But like all great works of art, it takes time to reach the desired outcome. And while this latest pièce de résistance is not yet finished, you can already start to see some of its features.
On Sunday, Skyy Moore — and especially Rashee Rice — showed real signs of the potential the Chiefs clearly see in them. They combined for nine receptions and 101 yards. More than once, Rice nearly had a touchdown catch — but was called down at the 1-yard line.
Really nice job by Rashee Rice to grab the pass clean and sneak between a couple defenders there for the near-touchdown.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) September 24, 2023
As these guys get more reps under their belts, the edges are going to smooth out. Soon, the the finished work will begin to come into focus.