There can be no doubt that this is the best football team Kansas City has had in years, maybe even decades. Second year back Patrick Mahomes has been the story of the NFL, as he is not only having one of the best first seasons of all time, but really one of the best in general. The Chiefs have the number one offense in the NFL, and have the firepower to maintain it for the rest of the season. There defense, however, is widely considered the worst defense in football. After a horrendous showing against the Rams on Monday Night Football, it may be time to ask the question Chiefs fans have been hoping to avoid; is the Chiefs defense bad enough to keep a historically great offense from winning in the Play-Offs.
The Chiefs have played three games against teams that were projected to compete for the Super Bowl so far this year. In all three they have been kept close by the offense, but gave up enough mistakes defensively that they only have one win in those games. it is in these three games that we see that, although the Mahomes led freight train of an offense is unbelievable, there defense may be so bad that its doesn’t matter.
The first of these games was a 42-37 away win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 2. At the time, this looked like a great win. Mahomes threw for 6 touchdowns as the Chiefs managed to hold off a tough opponent on the road. Now, though, this win seems as much a confirmation of the Chiefs’ hopelessness defensively as it was a confirmation of Mahomes’ talent. They allowed 475 total yards offensively, and allowed a team that shouldn’t have been on the same level to almost come back and steal a victory. It was a good job of them to hold on, but the cracks in the foundation definitely became apparent.
The next game was Kansas City’s first loss of the season, a 43-40 loss to the Patriots in New England. This loss was hardly a bad one. It was the first real adversity that Mahomes faced, and he responded by leading a comeback from 14 down in the second half before losing on a field goal in the final seconds. However, giving up 43 to a team is always going to make winning difficult. The Chiefs gave Belichick;s offense whatever he wanted, and because of that, they were able to march down the field multiple times in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. While nobody was blaming the Chiefs for losing in Foxborough, it still showed that there defense was going to struggle against talented teams.
Finally, there is the game in LA. On what might have been the greatest regular season game of all time, The Chiefs gave up 54 points in a 3 point loss in the Coliseum. Mahomes was great. He threw for 6 touchdowns(again!), and two of his three interceptions were on desperation throws in the last few minutes. Their defense, though, was terrible. They had penalty after penalty. They couldn’t guard any of the fast Ram’s receivers downfield. They did manage to hold Todd Gurley III without a TD for the first time in 13 games, but that and a lucky fumble recover TD are the only things they can hang their hat on. They simply could not stop the Rams, and it cost the Chiefs a game that they deserved to win. Mahomes was having one of the greatest performances of all time, and they cost him the dub. Before, it seemed as though the Chiefs could outpace their opponents most of the time, but, after last night, it seems like it doesn’t matter what they do offensively when they face talented teams. One of the greatest performances by an offense ever was not enough to overcome their defensive woes.
If they are going to win a Super Bowl, they have to learn to contain teams like this. They can’t give up 40+ points every time they play an above average offense, because it is just too much to expect Mahomes and Co. to keep up. They don’t have to be perfect, but they have to learn to get stops. They have to force the occasional turnover. The Chiefs have what it takes to win, but they need there defense to be consistent. They have shown flashes of what they can do, and even held the Bengals, a team having one of its best offensive seasons in years, to ten points. They can hold tough against these teams, and they know it. Proving it, though, is the only way we can see the Chiefs finally raise another banner.