Mahomes is back. The Chiefs have moved up in the power rankings. And they just crushed their division rivals, the LA Rams, down in Mexico City. While they’ve got their flaws, and Mahomes’s knee injury and subsequent missed games certainly hurt this normally explosive team, Week 11 showed us that the Chiefs ready to fight to get back into contention. But are they as good as they once were? Can they fix the cracks in the team and rise to the top of the AFC again before the playoffs? Here’s what we think.
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Worries and Challenges for the Chiefs
After missing just over two games due to a dislocated kneecap, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes returned to the field against the Titans in Week 10 and the Rams in Week 11 to score two more Ws for his team. However, none of it came easy. Mahomes had career lows across the board in the first half of Monday night’s game, including a measly 73 passing yards. He managed only 182 yards over the course of the whole game, the lowest in his career. Coach Andy Reid claims the recent injuries aren’t hindering him, and Mahomes says he’s feeling healthy, but it’s clear that he’s still learning to trust his knee again. The upside is that he racked up a career-high 59 rushing yards, including two runs of over 20 yards.
According to Mahomes, the Super Bowl is still the Chiefs’ ultimate goal this year. So is Kansas City actually a contender? Are they as good as, say, the Patriots? Or the Ravens? Last year, the answer to that question would have been a resounding “yes.” But here’s one thing to think about: As awful as Chargers and Philip Rivers were in Mexico City, they almost came back to win that game. Some sports experts believe the Chiefs’ defense led the team to the victory, but they might’ve just gotten lucky. After all, their D is still the second-worst in the league in yards allowed.
How will the Chiefs fare against teams with quarterbacks who aren’t past their prime? And where is that renowned, explosive Chiefs offense we talked so much about previously? Is Mahomes off his game? Only time will tell…
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The Positives for the Chiefs
It’s not often we say this, but the Chiefs defense did look good in Week 11. They capitalized on the mistakes made by the Rams and, although it wasn’t pretty, they managed to win a game that could’ve slipped away. Not to mention, they intercepted Rivers four times and made him look, well, old. Safety Daniel Sorenson put the nail in the coffin with a final interception to end LA’s attempt at a last-minute drive. But perhaps most importantly, this Chiefs team proved they could win even when Mahomes isn’t playing his best.
After Tyreek Hill left the game with injuries (along with Damian Williams and LeSean McCoy), tight end Travis Kelce really stepped up. Along with a touchdown, he had seven catches for 92 yards of his own. This game put him over the 6,000 career receiving yards mark, a pretty historic stat. And speaking of stats, before McCoy exited the game, he crossed the threshold of 11,000 career rushing yards.
And let’s not forget that for all the criticism, the Chiefs are still 7-4 and solidly in first place in the AFC West, and they’re now 3-0 over division opponents. Although their remaining schedule isn’t easy, with enough wins, they could still find themselves in possession of a playoff bye.
As for now, the Chiefs have a bye week to rectify a few things out and allow Mahomes to get back into his prime. Then they’ll take on a tough Oakland Raiders team (a division rival they’ve already beaten once in Week 2) followed by a real test against the New England Patriots. So it won’t be too long before we see if the Chiefs are the real deal this year or not…