The Chiefs are coming off a win this past Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings 27-20 and now look ahead to a Thursday night battle at home against the Denver Broncos. Before I look ahead, a recap of Sunday’s great win. The offense had a much sharper performance in my opinion: no turnovers, better third-down efficiency, and seemingly everybody had a role. Patrick Mahomes went 31-41 for 281 yards and two touchdowns. The defense continues to ascend as well.
Defense Gets Better and Better
For the fourth week in a row, the Chiefs defense allowed 20 points or fewer and forced at least one turnover. The one turnover they did get against Minnesota came on the very first play of the game when safety Justin Reid forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Willie Gay. That turnover led to a nine-play drive capped by an Isiah Pacheco touchdown from one yard out. It seemed like everyone on offense took turns making big plays.
Offense Takes Turns Making Plays
Travis Kelce of course led the way with 10 catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. To put it simply, he is the best tight end in football and is what makes the Chiefs offensive engine go. We saw the struggles they had in week one without him and ever since, it’s been a steady improvement over the last few weeks. We’ve seen rookie Rashee Rice come along and start to gain some traction in an NFL-style offense.
Although his overall stats might not be eye-popping, he’s a guy who can be counted on to move the chains and get first downs. He is third on the team creating 11 first downs, only behind running back Isiah Pacheco (20) and Travis Kelce (12). Rice caught four passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. There’s one more unsung hero that I want to give a shoutout to: Justin Watson.
Watson’s Wonderful Catches
There were two huge catches Watson made during the game that can’t go unnoticed. The first was a ridiculous sideline grab towards the end of the first half that continued a drive to tie the game going into halftime. Check it out here. If you thought the first catch was good, the second one was even better.
He did what most NFL people will say when a receiver makes a great catch: he “Mossed” his defender meaning he made a leaping catch over them. That term came from hall-of-fame receiver Randy Moss who made jaw-dropping catches over defenders from time to time. Watch this. Watson has had a quiet start to the year so far, but he will get more chances to be involved especially if he makes plays like that.
Up Next: The Denver Broncos
To say Denver has been a disappointment this season would be… an understatement. Last season, they were coached by Nathanial Hackett who was a first-time head coach and they acquired Russell Wilson. Last year did not go well as they went 5-12. They finished dead last (32nd) in scoring offense averaging 17 points per game. They seemed to not have any direction and got worse as the season went along. Hackett was fired as you might imagine but was hired this summer by the New York Jets to be the offensive coordinator. A lot had gone wrong but it seemed like things were looking up this year when they hired former Saints head coach and NFL analyst Sean Payton this summer. Here’s where things get messy…
Payton’s Big Mouth Pays the Price
Once Sean Payton got hired, his goal was to set a new standard in Denver, but while doing so he took shots at the previous coach which is a violation of an unwritten rule in sports amongst coaches: don’t publicly take shots at a previous coach and their staff. Payton said of Hackett: “it was one of the worst coaching jobs in NFL history”. That comment loomed large all summer ESPECIALLY when the season schedule was released and the Jets and Broncos were slated to play each other. For what it’s worth, Payton was a great coach in New Orleans but he had not coached since 2013. The game has vastly changed since then. He really had no room to talk because all he went off of was the game film from 2022.
After all the off-season chatter, the Jets and Broncos faced off this past Sunday and Nathanial Hackett and the Jets got the last laugh by going into Denver and beating the Broncos 31-21. It was an embarrassment for Denver given all the circumstances. While Russell Wilson and the offense is certainly playing better football, the Broncos’ defense is nonexistent. They allowed 70 points to the Miami Dolphins three weeks ago and they allowed the Jets to run for 234 yards. As far as overall rankings go, Denver ranks dead last in points per game allowed (34) and total yards per game allowed (450). Maybe Sean Payton should worry about how HE coaches instead of wondering about how poorly the previous coach did. I expect the Chiefs to run all over the Broncos on Thursday.