The Kansas City Chiefs massacred the division rival Las Vegas Raiders 41-14 on Sunday Night. And just like that, the team in red and gold is back to leading the AFC West. We have talked plenty about the AFC failing to capitalize while Kansas City was struggling. Not only did more AFC contenders fail to show up in Week Ten, but the Chiefs also got their confidence and swagger back.
Patrick Mahomes got back to winning with his unique style. Andy Reid called and coached his best game in a good while. Additionally, the Chiefs defense gave Derek Carr a bumpy road to travel on. There is certainly plenty of the season left to play. Kansas City must continue to ascend, as one dominant showing is not going to completely separate them from the rest of the AFC West or AFC pack. But, the Chiefs are finally showing signs that you can believe in once again.
What are the top five things we learned from the Chiefs in this win? Plus, what player’s stocks are rising or falling entering Week Eleven? Let’s kick it off.
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Top Five Things We Learned
The Chiefs Offense Has Not Been Figured Out
Despite what many people believed, this Chiefs offensive attack has not been figured out. In the passing game alone, the Raiders were forced to make difficult decisions in space. One option was always left open for Kansas City’s taking. Play action pass attempts allowed Mahomes to read and react quickly to the defense’s coverage. Those kinds of plays resulted in success when either going short or deep. Additionally, Kansas City killed Vegas all night with the screen game, and the Raiders never caught on to it.
Mahomes began to feel more comfort in the pocket last week against Green Bay. However, we saw his maneuverability grow even further against the Raiders. Mahomes stepped up urgently when he needed to. He also did a good job of keeping his base under control and continued to step into throws. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill registered performances we are used to seeing. Kelce’s yard after catch ability is second to none. Moreover, Hill has become just as much of a red zone master, as he has a deep threat.
Finally, the running game of Darrel Williams and others grinded the Raiders down quickly. Williams’ straightforward style allowed him to run through, around or over opposing tacklers. Kansas City did a lot of mixing between man blocking run calls and zone blocking run calls as well. The constant confusion from the defense, commanding blocking and tremendous field vision of Williams allowed the Chiefs to stay ahead of the sticks. Their pace was how they wanted it to be all night long.
Spagnuolo’s Pressure Is Getting In Opponent’s Heads
The Chiefs did not blitz or even bring as much extra pressure against the Raiders, compared to what they did against the Packers. Though, the threat of that is beginning to get opposing passers antsy once again. Kansas City was quick to win with natural pressure from their base defense. Jarran Reed played arguably his best game of the season from the interior. Meanwhile, Chris Jones, Melvin Ingram and Frank Clark all made their presence felt, even if they did not always get home.
As I saw many people say throughout this game on Twitter, Carr may have the greatest variance of any passer in terms of success against no pressure and failure against pressure. Almost any quarterback is going to feel the lasting effects of the blitzes, the pressures, the hurries or the quarterback hits. However, Carr was all over the place against Kansas City.
The Raiders quarterback threw many balls where he was dropping off of his back foot. At the same time, Carr was late to feel pressure coming more and more as the game went on. Elsewhere, Carr put many balls in harm’s way. A pop fly arm punt resulted in an interception for Daniel Sorensen after he attempted to roll out to his left to evade pressure. Quick passes resulted in a handful of batted down passes at the line of scrimmage. The threat of the Chiefs pressuring Las Vegas also led to many untimely check downs if Kansas City showed any hint of bringing the heat.
Kansas City Secondary Flying Under Radar
We all know how great Tyrann Mathieu can be at the safety position. His ability to play other roles in the slot, in the box or in man coverage are all assets to this Chiefs defense. Furthermore, his leadership and mentality is something that the other defensive backs feed off of heavily. The Chiefs secondary is quietly churning out strong performance after strong performance week after week, however.
Over the last month, the reemergence of Charvarius Ward has allowed Kansas City to switch up their coverages. We have seen an increase of Cover 2. On occasion, the slight use of Cover 1 has forced opposing quarterbacks to get the ball out quickly.
Rashad Fenton has truly been the one who has continued to defy expectations of the national media. His physicality against opposing receivers has always been there. Nonetheless, his awareness and timing has led to off-target throws, dropped passes, pass breakups or turnovers. Fenton was able to force a fumble against the Raiders. Meanwhile, his quick breaks on the football led to some drops by Vegas. He is allowing measly numbers while in coverage (5.4 yards per target, 7.9 yards per completion, 8.8 yards of average depth per target when targeted), while also not missing a tackle on the season.
Over the last few weeks, L’Jarius Sneed is back to the level we saw him play at late last season. His tackling form and success rate there is sneaky good in space. Sneed has continued to play multiple roles as well. Blitzing from the second level, playing press coverage in the slot or breaking on balls while in zone coverage have all created stops for the Chiefs defense and more frustration for the opponent.
Andrew Wylie Can Do Just Fine At Right Tackle
One of the biggest worries or question marks entering this contest was if Andrew Wylie could handle being the starting right tackle. With Lucas Niang out with a rib injury and Mike Remmers being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, Wylie was a veteran who the Chiefs could lean on. Honestly, he made Maxx Crosby, a former Eastern Michigan teammate, look completely nonexistent. Crosby was certainly close to getting home a couple of times. But, Wylie’s solid footwork, awareness to counter moves and stout hand placement made the Raiders pass rusher a non-factor.
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Wylie has served many roles on the Chiefs offensive line over the last few years. Arguably, he may best be suited for this spot at right tackle. Wylie is more technically savvy than he is powerful. With Mahomes’ ability to improvise, the much more nimble Wylie could be just fine for Kansas City at right tackle. It was an exquisite performance by the Chiefs offensive line overall. Though, Wylie suppressed any doubts of how he would perform in a crucial game.
The Chiefs Depth Is Coming Through
We just talked about Wylie easing any worries at right tackle. However, there were many different instances where Kansas City saw depth players shine on Sunday night against the Raiders. Wide receiver Byron Pringle made some tightly contested catches and won down the field often, including on his touchdown catch. How great is it to have Darrel Williams producing nearly 150 yards of offense, just as Clyde Edwards-Helaire is set to return soon from a MCL sprain? Defensively, Derrick Nnadi helped lead many run stuffs against Josh Jacobs or Kenyan Drake. The linebacker trio of Anthony Hitchens, Nick Bolton and Willie Gay are all serving their roles and doing their jobs well. None of the three are going out there trying to do too much, and it showed again this week.
It was refreshing to see how in rhythm Mahomes was. As ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky mentioned, Mahomes got the ball out with one hitch or less on 44 of 50 pass attempts. Meaning he was not just getting the ball out quickly, but was more comfortable and unfazed by what the Raiders defense was trying to show him. The ball placement, timing and attacking of all areas of the field was the best it has been for Mahomes since early October. He finished the night with 406 passing yards, five touchdowns to no interceptions and 8.12 yards per attempt. In addition, the Chiefs quarterback did not take a sack and finished with a completion percentage of 70 or higher for the first time since six weeks beforehand at Philadelphia.
Tyreek Hill And Travis Kelce
Usually, it is no surprise to see this duo dominate when the Chiefs win and score 40+ points. Both pass catchers combined for 15 catches, 202 receiving yards, 13.4 yards per reception and two touchdown catches. It was the way in which they did it that left a greater impact than what we have seen recently, nonetheless.
Hill’s route running, greater mix of usage and fakes or counter moves allowed him to win in all three areas of the field against the Raiders. His nuance and attention to detail before the ball even comes his way leaves just as great of an influence on the defense as Hill’s speed does.
Kelce was terrorizing the Raiders after the catch by forcing missed tackles. He was able to defeat press coverage attempts with noticeable strength. Moreover, Kelce was able to create more separation than he had in recent challenging games.
When the passing was as lethal as it was, and Williams ended the night as the team’s second leading receiver (101 receiving yards), you know it was a good night. Williams just embarrasses tacklers by blowing through them like a bowling ball. He does not hesitate to attack up the field in the running game. As a receiver, that touchdown catch was a little extra sweet when he was able to moss Johnathan Abram.
Kansas City Offensive Line
As mentioned above, Mahomes was not sacked at all. He hardly even felt pressure all night long. We talked about what stood out from Wylie already in one on one matchups with Crosby. Yet, the pancake blocks from the rest of the crew were occurring all night long. Orlando Brown Jr. staved off speed rushers better than he has in a while. Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith are just a treat to have for the next handful of years.
To cap off the offense, Coach Reid called his best game since the first month of the season. His attack on the Raiders weaker points was relentless and fun to watch. He did not hesitate to bring out all of the tricks. Multiple misdirection RPOs froze the opposing defender’s eyes and feet. On the other hand, his aggressiveness on fourth down looked more natural than the fourth down attempts the Chiefs have tried in other games. His mix of balance and boldness allowed Kansas City to stay in manageable downs and distances without feeling any pressure.
We talked briefly about Reed earlier. He notched his first sack in a Chiefs uniform. To boot, his pressure and short area quickness from the interior eliminated opportunities for Carr to step up in the pocket. Reed has been more effective with disengaging from blocks and keeping plays in front of him.
Once again, Josh Gordon did not register a catch or a target. There was reportedly interest that Kansas City had in Odell Beckham Jr. before he signed with the Rams. Because of that, Gordon has obviously not answered any prayers that the Chiefs had hoped he would. He of course had not played football in a long time and is learning an intricate offense. Yet, Gordon’s best ability is currently served as a blocker. That is disappointing for a weaker wide receiver room and a guy who has the ability to be the number two option among that depth chart.
Due to fumbles by Mecole Hardman, it was encouraging to see the Chiefs finally make a change at punt returner. Somehow nothing changed. Mike Hughes fumbled after taking a hit by Raiders punter AJ Cole. It was looking like a tremendous return, only to be wiped out by another turnover by Kansas City. If Hughes could not stick at cornerback and hold onto the football as a punt returner, what do you do with him at this point?
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs articles throughout this 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.
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