It’s halftime of the KC Chiefs’ Saturday night showdown against Los Angeles, and they lead the Chargers 10-6 at Arrowhead Stadium. Here is Chiefs beat writer Terez A. Paylor’s quick analysis.
1. The energy is right tonight
The Chiefs resembled the team that dismantled the Raiders last Sunday, which was a really good sign. There was lots of early emotion and guys were flying around all over the place. That’s what it will take to win this game. There seems to be a significant difference between the enthusiasm the Chiefs played with this week and last week and the way they’d been playing for essentially the entire month of November.
2. Kareem Hunt looks as quick as he has in a long time
Kareem Hunt looks as quick as he did the first month of the season, when he burst onto the scene with a flurry and lit up the NFL. He’s absolutely rocketing upfield off one cut, just like he did in September, and is spinning all over the place and generally being difficult to take down. This guy is pumped up tonight.
3. That Tyreek Hill touchdown was legit
You know the play I’m talking about. Great throw by Alex Smith. Legit, blistering speed by Tyreek Hill. It all added up to a 64-yard touchdown that put Hill over 1,000 yards this season, which definitely legitimizes the Chiefs’ decision to insert him into the “Z” receiver role before this season. Hill beat Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward on that play, by the way. Hayward is battling a calf injury, but he’s still a stud.
4. Bob Sutton is showing some real creativity
After a long stretch in which the defensive scheme appeared to go stale with an abundance of soft coverage and zero creativity, you have to give defensive coordinator Bob Sutton credit — he opened this game with some really nice blitzes. Eric Murray got a sack on one of those, and Chris Jones got a sack on another. Though the defense allowed a touchdown drive late in the half, if the Chiefs can continue to pressure Philip Rivers, they’ll win this game.
5. Not to be a downer, but ...
I can’t get over how much different this team looks compared to what I was forced to watch throughout much of November. If these guys had played this hard, with this much emotion, during that brutal four-game losing streak, this wouldn’t be a must-win game. Fans should remember that as they decide how much they plan to invest emotionally in this team over the next few weeks.