The Chiefs are unbeatable*. They cannot be beat*. No way, no how*. This small part of the internet is reserved for instant reactions to Chiefs games, so here we are:
The Chiefs are the best team in football*.
* If they play like THAT.
Oh, there’s always a catch, right?
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The Chiefs just whipped the Jaguars 30-14 here on Sunday, playing their best game so far against their best opponent so far, on a short week, and it looked like a mismatch.
The offense did The Offense Things, with Travis Kelce emasculating linebackers with jukes, Tyreek Hill’s speed a constant focus and Patrick Mahomes’ creativity and talent a constant stretch against the bounds of what even the league’s best defense is capable of countering.
The bigger story, of course, was the defense. Almost immediately, it was clear the front seven was in for its most disruptive day. Justin Houston was a problem for the Jaguars before leaving with a hamstring injury, Dee Ford was a star throughout and Chris Jones changed the game with an absurd blend of power, speed, agility, brains and hands with a pick-six on a screen pass.
He even juked Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles on the way to the end zone.
Let’s pause for some perspective. Bortles stinks in general, and even by his standards, he stunk against the Chiefs. The Jags were without their star running back, and a starting cornerback. Their path to victory was always by grinding yards on the ground, between the tackles, metaphorically punching the Chiefs in the mouth and keeping Mahomes off the field.
They abandoned that plan, for some reason, with an indefensible decision to throw on third and fourth down and inches near the goal line. Both passes fell incomplete, which is exactly what they deserved.
But the Chiefs deserve credit here, too. They beat the league’s best defense, while their own (still bad, if we’re honest) defense knocked a previously 3-1 team on its back.
This was the best team the Chiefs have played so far, with a talented and cocky defense that was supposed to prove more of a challenge. The same as it’s been with each previous test this season, the Chiefs aced it, and the same as it’s been with each previous test this season, the only thing that matters now is the next test.
One more time, that’ll be the hardest yet — at New England, with Bill Belichick having 10 days to prepare.
Some skepticism is warranted. Recent Chiefs history is full of hot starts, and early playoff losses. The defense will need to back this up, because even last year they played well at times but were ultimately so out of sorts the front office prioritized a culture change.
But if the Chiefs can be even close to this disruptive on defense, they’ll be the hardest team in the league to beat as long as Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill are healthy.
- Chris Jones made the best defensive play of the year. He read screen, kept his feet, put his hands up to defend the throw and was calm enough to make the catch. Bortles wanted no part of the tackle, but it was a nice juke anyway.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This play by Chris Jones was _____________?<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/J5mC1WEAFB">pic.twitter.com/J5mC1WEAFB</a></p>— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) <a href="https://twitter.com/PFF/status/1049008108985602048?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
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This has been an under discussed weakness of the Chiefs’ defense. We talk a lot about the tackling problems, and the weakness against the run, and the inability to cover linebackers and tight ends, and an inconsistent pass rush. All of those are problems, and I don’t mean to say otherwise.
But with how good this offense is, the defense doesn’t need to be great. More specifically and to the point — this defense cannot be great. It just doesn’t have the personnel. But they can be more disruptive, and create more turnovers, and that kind of approach is a great match for the offense.
This was the first time we’ve seen them do it in a game.
- The offensive line was so good. Mahomes makes them better, that’s always worth remembering. He makes some pressures irrelevant, and others the prologue for a highlight. But they blocked well, in both the run and pass.
The injury to Laurent Duvernay-Tarif is a significant problem, if it’s extensive. He’s perhaps the Chiefs’ best lineman out in space for the type of screens Andy Reid loves to run, and one of the better right guards in the NFL. It’s obviously too early to speculate, but he was down for a while, and had trouble walking off the field. No offense to Jordan Devey, but that’s a big drop-off.
- Sammy Watkins nearly caused Mahomes’ first interception with a curious decision to cut a route short at the goal line. One of the main reasons the Chiefs were interested in him is his ability in the red zone, which makes him a good pair with Hill and an additional threat with Kelce.
The Chiefs called a play where Watkins appeared to be the primary read on a slant at the goal line. But he stopped running shortly after the cut, which meant Mahomes’ throw went uncovered. The quarterback was visibly upset with Watkins, who immediately signaled that he knew he made a mistake.
Those are the kinds of things that break trust, if they happen too often.
- Mahomes did throw his first interception shortly after that, and it wasn’t the one a lot of us expected. I figured it’d be against pressure, with a rushed throw, a linebacker Mahomes didn’t see in real time materializing and making the play. Wasn’t like that at all. No pressure. No materializing linebacker. Just a bad throw. Sailed on him. He went 156 throws without an interception. Not bad for a wild, gunslinging turnover machine.
- Busy game. Lots of trash talking, personal fouls, and Jones deservedly being ejected for punching a player’s leg after an extra point. That’s the kind of thing happens more than it’s seen by officials, but that’s also no excuse. You have to be careful, and that’s especially true for star players. Ford, too, was kicked out of the game Sunday after accumulating his second unsportsmanlike penalty of the afternoon.