It’s never easy for this Kansas City Chiefs team and that was especially true against the Denver Broncos in Week 17. They didn’t play a perfect game and dealt with some attrition during the course of the game, but they managed to grind out a win against a desperate team with nothing to lose. This win marks the 15th consecutive win against the Broncos for Kansas City.
So what else did we learn about the Chiefs in their latest game?
Final Score: Chiefs 27, Broncos 24
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Self-inflicted wounds continue to be the story of the Chiefs as of late. The second-half offense was particularly concerning, opening up the second half with six consecutive incomplete passes for Patrick Mahomes. He didn’t seem exceptionally comfortable throwing from the pocket, missing easy layups and wide-open receivers. They didn’t pick up a first down until under two minutes left in the third quarter. The struggles on offense, save for a single touchdown drive, really persisted through the remainder of the second half. The offense got it done when it counted most, but this will be worth monitoring going forward.
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Chiefs Wire Game Ball: RB Jerick McKinnon
Harrison Butker Rookie of the Game: DE George Karlaftis & CB Trent McDuffie
Casey Wiegmann Veteran of the Game: TE Blake Bell
Jamaal Charles Offensive Player of the Game: WR Kadarius Toney
Bobby Bell Defensive Player of the Game: DT Chris Jones
Morten Andersen Special Teams Player of the Game: CB Nazeeh Johnson
Otis Taylor Play of the Game: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes’ six-yard completion to himself.
Wesley Roesch Stat of the Game: Chiefs 47 net rushing yards.
Quick-hitting observations and analysis
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After a methodical opening drive there just wasn’t much going for the offense for the Chiefs. There have been open receivers, but the timing has been off just a tad. Contact forced a lot of passes free before receivers had a chance to secure the ball.
Special teams remain a big problem for Kansas City as they get closer to the postseason. Missed kicks will matter in win-or-go-home games.
The defense held its own for the most part on Sunday, but the weakness remains in the middle of the field. As soon as the Broncos started attacking linebackers and safeties in coverage, they
The timing was off all day for the passing game, but it was particularly noticeable when Mahomes was targeting Marquez Valdes-Scantling. I’m not sure if it was footwork-related, but Mahomes had a few overthrows in the passing game.
The pass rush was quite potent today and continues to be the most impressive part of the defense. Chris Jones, Khalen Saunders, Carlos Dunlap and George Karlaftis all had really impressive games getting after the quarterback.
Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney seemed to get more action in specific roles this week. The Chiefs are working Toney into the deep passing game and Moore into the screen game and they’re seeing a lot of success in doing it.
Jerick McKinnon continues to be the most consistent weapon the team has on offense outside of Travis Kelce. It feels like they’re perhaps saving him and some plays for him for the playoffs right now.
Isiah Pacheco moved up the franchise leaderboards in terms of carries by a rookie today. His 158 carries rank fifth-most in Chiefs history. His angry running style is a refreshing change of pace for the K.C. offense and is still underutilized.
Finishing games seems to be a big problem for this team. In this particular game, where Patrick Mahomes was clearly struggling, it felt like they didn’t do enough to help him. The run game was very lackluster. The quick-and-easy passes were lacking, save for the drive where they actually scored a touchdown. At times it felt like the play-calling was relying too much on Mahomes to make a play happen as opposed to the scheme.
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The Chiefs will travel to Allegiant Stadium to face the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18. This team has made it clear that they’re moving on from Derek Carr, who was just 3-14 against Kansas City in his career. In the meantime, Josh McDaniels is going with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback.