On a night that saw reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes reduced to a very pedestrian performance, it took four Philip Rivers turnovers to seal ta Chiefs victory in front of 75,000 fans at Estadio Azteca Monday night.
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The sheer exuberance experienced by Chiefs fans following Daniel Sorenson’s late interception to put the game on ice should be met with an equal amount of concern. Why did the offense come out flat in the first half and go into a complete shell in the 4th quarter? How did Tyrann Mathieu drop the easiest interception in NFL history that would have sealed the game? Why wasn’t feisty defensive tackle Mike Pennel active against the Titans?
This was one of the games where merely surviving meant that all the lofty goals and expectations for this team could still be in play as the Chiefs currently sit at 7-4 and lead the AFC West by a half a game. The Chiefs host the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium on December 1st, a game that will have large implications on the division race.
Causes for concern
Many will remember back in July that Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said publicly that 2019 was a “Superbowl or bust” type of season. Not an unfair expectation given the fact that the team were four inches away from a Superbowl appearance in 2018. A revamped defense, the return of MVP Patrick Mahomes and an embarrassment of riches at receiver only fueled the lofty expectations of Chiefs Kingdom.
Something has not felt right about this season from the get go. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill was injured early in the season opener after a tumultuous off-season that threatened his NFL career. Injuries continued to mount as Eric Fisher, Chris Jones, Sammy Watkins, Kendall Fuller and a dislocated kneecap for Patrick Mahomes threatened to completely derail the season completely.
The team lost three consecutive home games for the fist time since 2012 and a sloppy train wreck of a game at Tennessee on November 10th have put the Chiefs once promising Superbowl hopes on ice despite the Monday night Chargers survival. Between injuries, uncharacteristic special team gaffes, questionable play-calling from Andy Reid, penalties and fumbles, it’s hard to imagine this team being capable of a championship run in January.
Reasons for hope
Despite the previously stated misgivings, the Chiefs still find themselves sitting atop the AFC West with five games to go in the season. A win over Oakland in two weeks (a team Andy Reid has lost to only twice since 2013) would all but stamp a fourth straight division crown and assure that at least one playoff game would take place at Arrowhead Stadium.
After hosting the Raiders, the Chiefs travel to New England which will be a formidable of not impossible task but winnable games against the Bears, Broncos and Chargers end the season which makes 11-5 very possible which will likely create a logjam for the 3-4 seeds with the Chiefs, Colts and Texans. While we wait on Tyreek Hill injury news,
Kansas City is seemingly getting healthy at the right time and defensive end Frank Clark is finally living up to his bloated contract. Will they be able to put some of these unflattering performances behind them and load up for a run to glory? The analytics and a simple eye test says probably not.