Five hot takes from the Chiefs win over the Raiders on Sunday
The Kansas Metropolis Chiefs defeated the Oakland Raiders 40-33 on Sunday, extending their document to 10-2 and sustaining their lead on the remainder of the AFC. Listed here are 5 hot takes from the recreation:
1. Making up for Kareem
Photograph by Ezra Shaw/Getty Pictures
I do know when the thunderbolt of Kareem Hunt’s launch hit us on Friday afternoon, plenty of Chiefs followers instantly thought this may change the calculus of the recreation towards the Raiders — if not the Chiefs’ probabilities of profitable a Tremendous Bowl in 2018.
I wasn’t one in every of them. I by no means did assume that the Chiefs dashing assault was going to be a key issue on this recreation. As an alternative — even once I thought Hunt can be enjoying towards the Raiders — I figured the Chiefs would like to assault the Raiders protection the place it’s weakest: towards the move.
However because it turned out, the Chiefs handed on about 56% of their snaps on Sunday. Solely twice this season — in Week 1 and Week 2 towards the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers — did they move on a smaller proportion of their performs.
And the Chiefs gained extra yards on the floor — 174 — than any recreation this season besides towards the Cincinnati Bengals.
Does that imply I used to be fallacious? It’d. Or it won’t.
Via the first three quarters, the Chiefs have been main 33-16. As much as that time, that they had handed on 61% of their offensive snaps. In the fourth quarter, they handed on simply 41%. So you might argue that the technique that put the Raiders away depended extra closely on the cross.
Additional, an enormous chunk of the dashing yardage got here from two outliers — a Patrick Mahomes scramble that gained 28 yards, together with a 33-yard end-around from Tyreek Hill.
Spencer Ware’s dashing numbers truly weren’t excellent on Sunday. He had simply 47 yards on 14 carries — simply three.four yards per try. These aren’t spectacular numbers. It might be fairly straightforward to take a look at them and say, “Oh, boy! We’re in trouble!”
Nevertheless it is perhaps extra instructive to match what the Chiefs have accomplished this season with Hunt and Ware along with what Ware and Damien Williams did collectively towards Oakland. If you take a look at it that approach, Hunt and Ware mixed for four.7 yards a carry by means of 11 video games. Ware and Williams mixed for five.Zero towards the Raiders.
This isn’t to say that Kareem Hunt is definitely replaceable. He simply… isn’t. He’s a particular participant. If nothing else, he introduced one other dimension to the Chiefs together with his capability to make yards after catch as a receiver — one thing we actually didn’t see from both Ware or Williams towards Oakland. And that is additionally only one recreation to match towards 11. Subsequent week towards the Baltimore Ravens might simply be a lot totally different — and really possible can be.
Placing apart the off-the-field points — boy, it wouldn’t it’s good if we might do this? — we’d certainly agree that we’d moderately see Hunt on the workforce as an alternative of on the road. However rightly or wrongly, that ship has sailed. The Chiefs will simply have to determine a solution to modify to his absence. On Sunday, they managed to do it. We’ll simply should see how — and the way properly — they will do it going ahead.
2. Protecting the focus
Photograph by Jason Hanna/Getty Pictures
The opposite factor Chiefs followers began worrying about on Friday afternoon was whether or not Hunt’s launch would upset the apple cart — that’s, whether or not the group would all of the sudden implode as a result of Hunt had been launched.
Truthfully, that wasn’t an unreasonable factor to fret about. I frightened about it a bit bit, too — however I took consolation from the classes of the 2015 season. That was the one the place the Chiefs began 1-5, and had been written off by all however its most ardent followers — and in addition the season the place Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in the Week 5 recreation towards the Chicago Bears.
In these days, Charles accounted for about one-third of the Chiefs’ offensive output. It was truthful for followers to assume that the Chiefs season was completed when Charles was carted off to the locker room — particularly when the Chiefs misplaced the following week’s recreation, too.
However the Chiefs gained 10 straight to complete the season, and gained their first playoff recreation since 1994. A part of it, in fact, was that the Chiefs’ schedule occurred to be a lot simpler in the second half of the season than it was in the first half.
However it was additionally as a result of Andy Reid is aware of learn how to hold his gamers targeted on the process at hand: profitable the subsequent recreation on the schedule. The gamers all talked about it at the time, they usually nonetheless speak about it immediately: Reid is a person who genuinely cares about his gamers, and provides them the respect they deserve. That respect is returned. Such a coach is well-suited to steer a group by means of adversity.
We will definitely discover fault with a few of the issues that occurred on the area towards the Raiders. The sport was a lot nearer than many anticipated. The protection — as traditional — gave up a variety of yards. Sometimes reliable gamers dropped passes. The Chiefs fumbled away the ball on their opening play from scrimmage.
However none of that held them again. As Reid would put it, they stored battling — and gained the recreation anyway.
That’s not the type of factor you see from a workforce that’s imploding.
three. Mahomes is the difference-maker
Photograph by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Pictures
I’m positive I’m not the solely individual watching Sunday’s recreation who began feeling a determined sense of unease when the Raiders — after trailing by 16 at the finish of the third quarter — pulled to inside three factors of the Chiefs with simply seven minutes remaining in the recreation.
Once they obtained the ball again, the Chiefs not solely needed to rating a landing, however additionally they needed to do it with out leaving the Raiders sufficient time to place two scores on the board. The Chiefs obtained some assist when the Raiders dedicated two penalties, however harm themselves when Mitch Morse was referred to as for holding. It helped the Chiefs when Mahomes managed to realize eight yards when he needed to scramble from the pocket, and in addition when he gained 9 extra on a designed run.
Any of these issues might simply have occurred when Alex Smith was the Chiefs quarterback. However there’s one factor that in all probability wouldn’t have occurred with Smith beneath middle: the third-and-five play from the Raiders 29-yard line. Mahomes was chased out of the pocket, and needed to improvise — finally hitting Travis Kelce with a 25-yard move that broke the Raiders’ again.
I really like Alex Smith. However he wouldn’t have made that play.
So if you want, go forward and fear about Bob Sutton’s protection giving up all these yards. Complain about the forestall protection that permits subpar offenses to remain in the recreation throughout the fourth quarter. Be involved that with out Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs will find yourself squandering this splendid season.
Something might occur in the remaining video games; it’s not a positive factor that the Chiefs will make all of it the strategy to Atlanta and win all of it. However the Chiefs have now proved they’re not a group that may’t deal with enterprise towards a nasty workforce, or can’t be anticipated to win towards a superb workforce.
Why? As a result of Pat’s acquired this.
four. Mr. Kelce
Photograph by Ezra Shaw/Getty Photographs
On Sunday — with 168 yards on a dozen catches, and two touchdowns as well — Travis Kelce surpassed 1000 receiving yards on the season. Kelce has now been the Chiefs’ main receiver in seven of the Chiefs’ 12 video games this season. He’s simply having the greatest season of his profession.
Tyreek Hill — whose blazing velocity is certain to get anybody’s consideration — nonetheless leads the workforce in receiving yards, and will get most of the press ink. However Kelce simply retains holding on — making the robust catches when it counts the most, and preventing for the additional yards that make the distinction.
Kelce was the responsible celebration on the fumble on the opening play of the recreation, however I’m gone worrying about that sort of factor with the sixth-year tight finish. These days he solely fumbles the similar method different nice gamers typically fumble — when one other participant finds a chance to strip the ball. He not loses his cool on the area. He’s lastly matured into the participant the Chiefs hoped they have been getting.
Kelce is now on tempo to have 1400 yards (or extra) this season. Solely two have ever had greater than 1300.
5. The opportunistic protection
Photograph by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Photographs
We hold having this dialog about the Chiefs protection — the one which routinely provides up big numbers of yards towards offenses that (typically) aren’t excellent, and provides away dashing yards prefer it’s Christmas each day from September via New Yr’s Day.
And but… over the matter of six factors in two video games, the Chiefs can be 12-Zero.
I admit it: I’m a tough promote. I’m sufficiently old to have seen a whole lot of issues, and I’m onerous to persuade that historic tendencies can change appreciably. It’s all the time been true that robust — even elite — offenses have hassle surviving in the postseason with out a minimum of a mean protection.
And but… towards the Los Angeles Rams two weeks in the past, the Rams gave up 546 yards — and gained the recreation. Nevertheless it’s affordable to say they might have misplaced the recreation by a minimum of two touchdowns with out massive, opportunistic performs by their protection.
It’s all the time been true that profitable the turnover battle in a given recreation vastly improves a workforce’s probability to win it; since 1940, groups with a turnover margin of a number of have gained over 75% of their video games. Nevertheless it’s attainable that rule modifications favoring the offense in the final couple of many years might have had sufficient cumulative impact to show issues in a brand new path.
What if the formulation for a championship is now a robust offense coupled with a protection that may permit plenty of yards, however can nonetheless generate sufficient turnovers and different huge performs to show the tide of video games?
Accidentally or design, the Chiefs definitely match that invoice — as they demonstrated once more on Sunday. It’s not exhausting to argue that with out the 4 fumbles the Chiefs pressured, they could have left Oakland with a loss.
It’s going to take much more than the Chiefs (or one other staff like them) profitable a championship to persuade me this can be a long-term development. But when what’s happening is sufficient to make an previous man like me even think about the risk that a change is underfoot, one thing have to be happening.
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