The Kansas City Chiefs were victorious over the division rival Oakland Raiders. Furthermore, they did not just beat them, they dominated them. KC is now set up to lock up another division crown. Following the Chiefs win over the Raiders, the report cards are in. Who’s stock is either rising or falling after Week Thirteen? Let’s find out with this week’s version of three up and three down.
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We have said it over and over now for about a month or more. The Chiefs pass defense is continuing to play well. The secondary had an exceptional day and made it a long day for Derek Carr in the cold. Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill were dialed in, knowing exactly what Oakland was wanting to do offensively. Mathieu talked about this after the game. He said, “we knew when Carr would take shots downfield. We understood it pre-snap by the formation, and it put us in position to make a play. Tight ends, running backs, check down are his game. We were able to capitalize when he did try to throw it downfield.” Both guys had an interception in the game, with Thornhill’s being a pick six.
Besides the safeties, Charvarius Ward is clearly getting comfortable in the scheme. As a whole, the coverage was air tight on Sunday. We saw many replays on CBS, where Tony Romo had the play paused, and you could see Carr had nowhere to throw very often.
The Defensive Line
While the Raiders offensive line flexed their muscles early, Kansas City fought back. It was a day where the attitude and leadership of Chris Jones showed immensely. He gobbled up Raiders ball carriers with ease, once the game was out of reach. Like the aforementioned Ward, Tanoh Kpassagnon is someone who has benefitted greatly from Steve Spagnuolo‘s new scheme. He was able to fly around and wreak havoc, when others were out of gas. Others like Mike Pennel and Khalen Saunders are continuing to show out in increased opportunities.
The rookie from Utah State finally saw some extended action against the Raiders. Darwin Thompson runs bigger and stronger than somebody who is 5’8” and 200 pounds. He does a nice job of running through tacklers. A few times in this game, Thompson gained positive yardage when Oakland should have had him for a loss. Impressively, he was the Chiefs leading rusher in this contest, despite not getting looks until the fourth quarter. He also notched his first career touchdown.
Unfortunately for Darrel Williams, he suffered a scary looking injury. He looks to have avoided something major than what was first believed to be the case. But for Thompson, this now opens the door for him to show what he’s got. And up next, is a huge date with the New England Patriots.
Once again, the Chiefs run defense was an issue. At first glance, it looked like the linebackers were consistently struggling. Oakland had open running lanes too many times. This was due in large part to run fits not being filled. Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson looked slow or hesitant. On the other hand, Reggie Ragland was fired up and making a handful of plays. However, the linebackers continue to be a major issue overall. This should be a top two or three priority to fix this offseason in the draft.
The Offensive Line
This is more of a minor one, but it is still major to see if this unit will finish strong to end the year. If not, then this unit needs reshuffling. Patrick Mahomes was forced to roll out and throw the ball away far too often early in this game. Meanwhile, there were some obvious missed blocks and assignments in short yardage situations. To boot, the skill players were able to make more yardage by themselves at times. This unit did a great job, and the team as a whole, for not committing a penalty. But, they have to continue to play clean in an important game against the Patriots next week.
Of all the receivers and weapons, Sammy Watkins has been nonexistent for a while now. On three targets, he finished with zero catches. Since returning from injury in Week Eight, Watkins is averaging just 3.8 catches per game in that five game span. He also has averaged just 34.6 yards in that span with zero touchdowns. Watkins actually hasn’t scored since he had three scores in Week One. Going back to the upcoming offseason outlook, Watkins could be gone to free cap space. He is on the hook for $14 million and $7 million in dead money for 2020.
That will conclude this week’s version of three up and three down. Be on the lookout for more Chiefs content throughout the week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.