A couple weeks ago, there were two clear favorites in the AFC.
Now, there is only one.
The Kansas City Chiefs have been dealt two straight home losses. Patrick Mahomes, hobbled with an ankle injury that continues to get aggravated in games, has looked a little more human lately. The defense has been gashed by two straight opponents. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots keep crushing opponents.
It’s relatively early in the season and the Chiefs are still 4-2 and in first place of the AFC West. However, it seems like Thursday night’s game against the Denver Broncos — which can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app — is critical for the Chiefs. Remember, there was only one realistic goal for the Chiefs this season after losing the AFC championship game last season.
Chiefs losing ground to Patriots
The New England Patriots are already pulling away from the Chiefs. The Patriots are 6-0 and have a soft schedule. They aren’t going to lose many games this season. A healthy, clicking Chiefs team has the capability of winning at Foxborough in the playoffs, but nobody wants to play at New England in January. It’s a tough assignment. And there can be an argument made, certainly by the Texans and Colts, that the Chiefs aren’t even the second-best team in the AFC anymore.
It’s not even Halloween and it seems like the Chiefs’ margin for error is gone, in terms of positioning for home-field advantage in the AFC. And make no mistake, anything less than a trip to the Super Bowl will feel like a disappointment for the Chiefs. They came very close last season, losing to the Patriots in overtime of the AFC title game, and made moves in the offseason to finish the job.
Through four weeks the Chiefs looked like a team that could go to a Super Bowl. Then the Colts and Texans beat them in Arrowhead Stadium.
Multiple issues affecting Chiefs
Injuries have hit the Chiefs hard on offense and defense. Mahomes hasn’t missed any games, but he seems to get his injured ankle stepped on every week and the injury has affected his play. Mahomes was on fire through four games, and hasn’t been bad over the past two games, but he hasn’t played to his MVP level. And now he has a short week to heal.
The bigger issue is the defense, and particularly the run defense. The Colts used Marlon Mack to pound the ball, keep the Chiefs’ offense off the field and it worked. Then the Texans’ Carlos Hyde had a big day on the ground in last week’s win. The Broncos, with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, will likely test that run defense.
You wouldn’t think the team that started 4-0 would be more desperate for a win than the team that started the season 0-4. But that might be the case. Kansas City can’t keep giving up ground to New England, and they don’t want to find themselves in a battle for the division title with Oakland or Denver.
Thursday night isn’t exactly a must-win for Kansas City. But they might want to keep giving away games, if they wish to keep those Super Bowl dreams.
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