The Chiefs have hit a soft spot in the schedule, and this is where focus plays a role.
Locking in wasn’t an issue last weekend when the Chiefs visited Cleveland. The Browns made news earlier in the week by firing their coach and offensive coordinator, and several Chiefs had ties to the area or had played for the Browns. What’s more, most of these current Chiefs players have contracts signed by the Browns’ general manager, John Dorsey, who was in Kansas City from 2013-2017.
Motivation? Check. Kansas City rolled 37-21, dropping Cleveland to 2-6-1.
This week is different. The Arizona Cardinals bring a 2-6 record to Arrowhead Stadium. Similar connections don’t exist much beyond defensive tackle Xavier Williams, the Grandview native in his first season with the Chiefs after spending the previous three with the Cardinals.
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Arizona struggles on offense, ranking 31st in points and dead last in yards. The Cardinals played well enough in their most recent game: In an 18-15 victory over the 49ers on Oct. 28, they racked up 186 yards in the fourth quarter behind rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.
Still, this looks like a mismatch. The Chiefs are an early 16½-point favorite, according to VegasInsider.com. That’s a huge line in the NFL. In fact, no Andy Reid-coached Chiefs team has been a bigger favorite.
But Reid said he doesn’t think the Chiefs will need to search deep for motivation.
“They’re coming off a bye week — they’ll be fresh and they’re coming off a win,” Reid said. “We just have to make sure we get ourselves ready to play.”
If anything, a look-ahead factor could be in play for the Chiefs, who are set for a high-profile meeting with the Los Angeles Rams in Mexico City a week later.
But their AFC-best 8-1 record proves the Chiefs have hit nearly all of the right buttons so far.
Cardinals at Chiefs
Sunday, noon, Arrowhead Stadium
TV/Radio: CBS (Ch. 5), KCFX (101.1 FM)
Line: Chiefs by 16½
With his next touchdown pass, Patrick Mahomes will match Len Dawson’s team record of 30 in season. Dawson set the mark in 1964. Dawson played in all 14 games that year; Sunday will be Mahomes’ 10th game of 2018.
Mahomes also could become the first player in NFL history with nine straight 300-yard passing games in one season. Drew Brees has thrown for at least 300 yards in nine straight games: He did it twice, but both times he did so over two seasons.
Mahomes’ coach remains impressed. Reid was asked about the throws Mahomes makes from different arm angles, sometimes altering the angle on the same throw.
“I’ve been around a long time, and I sit there and go, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good,’” Reid said. “I’ve been very lucky to have been around some good quarterbacks, starting with (Brett) Favre, I played with Jim McMahon (at Brigham Young) ... Donovan McNabb ... They did the crazy stuff. I’ve seen it.
“But there’s a certain, Wow, that’s pretty good right there.” And he has one or two of those a game. He’s blessed that way.”
The Chiefs lead in the NFL in penalties. They’ve been flagged 76 times this season for 616 yards. The Steelers (74) and Bills (70) have fewer penalties but for more yards.
Against the Browns, the Chiefs were called for 11 penalties for 86 yards. On one play, three different Chiefs — tight end Travis Kelce and offensive linemen Cam Erving and Mitchell Schwartz — all drew flags.
“We have way too many — took half the game away from ourselves,” Reid said. “We ended up with almost 500 yards of offense and take away 90 yards. That’s going in the wrong direction. You have to keep disciplining yourself.”lair Kerkhoff bio