In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the Kansas City Chiefs have turned into a defensive powerhouse and in Week 11, they did it against one of the best offenses in the game.
Steve Spagnuolo’s unit held the Dallas Cowboys to nine points — nine! This group must have turned all of that early-season criticism into motivational fuel because over the past four weeks they’ve only allowed 11.75 points per game.
When this happened against the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers (without Aaron Rodgers) it was less of a story, but against fearsome point-scorers like the Las Vegas Raiders and Cowboys, it gains weight. This defense looks like the real deal and that makes the Chiefs a legitimate championship contender and the team to beat in the AFC once again.
Or does it? — On November 22, Stephen A. Smith said not so fast Chiefs Kingdom.
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Analyst Says Chiefs Are NOT the Team to Beat
Hold the phone Kansas City, Stephen A. does not think the Chiefs are the team to beat. During a segment on ESPN’s “First Take,” Molly Qerim Rose asked Michael Irvin and Smith if KC has retaken their place as big bully of the conference.
The Hall of Fame wide receiver agreed that they had, based on their track record and their mid-season adjustments, but his fellow debater was not on board. Before Smith even got to why that was, he decided to pick a fight with the Chiefs offense, stating:
First of all, I don’t understand why Travis Kelce and all of those guys were jumping around with Eric Bienemy… what the hell are you jumping around for? You scored 19 points. I mean your offense wasn’t anything to write home about, I’m sorry. I didn’t see anything — a little spurt there but I didn’t see anything to write home about. Had a couple of trick plays, Tyreek Hill got loose early, we get all of that. You jumped out to a 16-3 lead, I understand. But what I’m saying is that we’ve seen this Chiefs offense be significantly more potent. That was not the case yesterday number one.
The famed TV personality then explained why the New England Patriots are now the team to beat in his eyes. “I’ve completely shifted to the New England Patriots because of Bill Belichick and that defense,” Smith admitted.
He then went to the old adage that defense — and running the football — wins championships. The Pats do both of those things very well, but they still have a rookie quarterback who has yet to prove whether or not he can handle the bright lights of a postseason stage.
“I just haven’t seen Mac [Jones] in an uncomfortable situation,” Irvin countered while doubting New England, “[that] defense has been so great. Now, I gotta give it to Patrick Mahomes because he’s been in uncomfortable situations and has come back before. We watched it in one playoff run, where they came back double-digits down in all three games — they came back and went to the Super Bowl. I need to see Mac Jones do some of that… they scored 40 points [against the Raiders], then they come out against Dallas, the first three drives they go out and score so offensively, they’re getting that groove back.”
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AFC Beginning to Take Shape
Whether the Chiefs are truly back or not is still up for debate, but Mahomes and his teammates certainly look confident enough to beat any team on any given week.
That includes Belichick and the Patriots defense, who have given this offense trouble in the past. That also includes the other ‘contenders’ in the AFC. This conference is starting to take shape and there are a few teams that pose a unique challenge.
First, you got the Tennessee Titans (8-3) who absolutely bulldozed KC in Week 7. Are they still as large of a concern without superstar Derrick Henry though?
Next up are the Baltimore Ravens (7-3). The recent AFC rival finally beat the Chiefs in Week 2 as Lamar Jackson led his team to a one-point victory. This matchup always has the potential to go either way but history still favors Kansas City.
Then there are the inconsistent but ever-dangerous Buffalo Bills (6-4) and the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers (6-4), as well as the upstart Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) and the red-hot Indianapolis Colts (6-5) among others:
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1).
- Cleveland Browns (6-5).
- Raiders (5-5).
- Denver Broncos (5-5).
With the third wildcard spot that was added in 2020, this is setting up to be a wild finish in the AFC and as usual, Kansas City is right at the heart of it.