A victory by one point or one hundred points is recorded identically. Still, the Kansas City Chiefs have a vast advantage over the rest of the AFC West. The Chiefs are 4-1 since Andy Reid took over as head coach and 16-3 against division rival Las Vegas Raiders after Monday’s 30-29 victory.
There is often only a hair’s breadth separating victory and defeat on game days. There is a disparity in how some teams and organizations manage to lose in the most heartbreaking ways while others consistently find ways to win.
Josh McDaniels and the Raiders are now 1-4 after missing a two-point conversion with 4:27 remaining in the game. In the final 51 seconds of the game wide receiver, Davante Adams was unable to convert a crucial first down.
Adams and fellow wide receiver Hunter Renfrow collided on Las Vegas’ final offensive play sending Derek Carr’s prayer of a throw hopelessly tumbling to the ground. Bad teams can’t come through with the big plays when they’re needed. In 2021, however, luck was on the side of the Raiders.
In the previous campaign, the team barely made it into the playoffs. ESPN’s Jason Fitz pointed out that seven of the games Las Vegas won last year were decided by walk-off plays. Four of the team’s five losses this year have been by a combined 14 points.
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The Chiefs have a leg up on the competition thanks to their two best players: quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce. They are and have been for some time, the most formidable offensive duo in a league focused on scoring.
— UNISWAG (@UNISWAG) October 7, 2022
In his field, Mahomes sets the bar exceptionally high. While Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills is having what appears to be an MVP season, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs has changed the way quarterbacks are rated in the NFL. Mahomes’ throws are so improbable that they are almost comical to watch.
The Chiefs’ offense exudes confidence because of the four-time Pro Bowler’s knack for making the impossible look easy. The team is always in contention and can come back from any situation where less resilient squads would have given up.
Against Las Vegas, Kansas City could have easily stayed at home and hid. With less than 10 minutes left in the second quarter, the Raiders jumped out to a 17-0 lead. After Mahomes and company responded with a touchdown drive of 75 yards, they were stymied by one of the worst calls of the season on their next possession.
Defensive tackle Chris Jones made a blazing run up the middle of the Raiders’ offensive line for a strip-sack on third-and-eight from the 46-yard line. Despite Jones having already stripped the ball from Carr, the officials bizarrely flagged him for roughing the passer after he landed on Carr with his full body weight. Las Vegas responded with a field goal, giving them a 20-7 lead.
Jones argued after the game that officials should be able to see hits that result in a roughing of the passer penalty from the booth if the penalty is to be called at a high velocity.
A major mistake like that could have sent the opposing team reeling. The Chiefs, on the other hand, grew more resolved. The Chiefs scored 24 points throughout their next four possessions. After throwing an interception early in the second quarter, Mahomes went 17 for 23 for a touchdown three of which went to Kelce.
The Chiefs had a tough time keeping their edge protected at the beginning of the game. When the offensive line found its groove, Mahomes was nearly unbeatable. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he achieved the first perfect passing score this season when aiming for the seams.
According to Austin Gayle of The Ringer, he has the highest EPA on non-pressured dropbacks in the last two weeks. Incredibly, every time Kansas City drove within scoring range, the Raiders failed to cover the game’s best receiving tight end. CBS Sports’ Doug Clawson claims that Kelce’s four touchdowns were the most by a tight end since the 1985 season and the second-most ever.
Stathead (via Pride of Detroit’s Jeremy Reisman) reports that the 33-year-old’s touchdown catches with less than 30 receiving yards make him the first player to accomplish this feat since at least 1950.
Mahomes and Kelce share a special bond that goes far beyond the traditional role of a comforter and safety net. In any circumstance, Mahomes can make any throw. He has no compunction about releasing a pass that no other quarterback would dare try.
Kelce uses his strength, body contortion, and supple hands to consistently work himself open, catch passes and make plays after the catch. Since the beginning of the 2018 season, the pair has gained 610 yards together via scramble plays as reported by Next Gen Stats. The only other team to go over 400 yards together was the now-former Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett.
Mahomes and Kelce keep grinding away, wearing down the opposition. In the offseason, the rest of the AFC West made some moves to catch up but ultimately fell short. The early years of Las Vegas’s existence have buried it so deeply in obscurity that its devoted following may have forgotten where they are.
The Raiders are virtually eliminated from postseason contention, barring a miraculous turnaround. The Denver Broncos are a game better than the Oakland Raiders at 2-3 but quarterback Russell Wilson’s honeymoon with the team was cut short.
The offense is dysfunctional and the team’s offseason prize acquisition isn’t shaping up to be what was expected. The Broncos score fewer points than any other team in the league. The adventures of the unit in the danger zone make for a terrifying Halloween tale.
The Chiefs have dominated their division for quite some time but the Los Angeles Chargers were supposed to be the team to finally challenge that. Justin Herbert, the quarterback, is taking a chance despite having injured ribs.
Rashawn Slater, the left tackle has a torn biceps tendon and will miss the rest of the season. Joey Bosa, a key member of the defense has suffered a serious groin injury. Keenan Allen, a wide receiver is out with a hamstring injury. They’ve gotten off to a strong start (3-2) considering the circumstances but high standards were set.
The Chiefs’ next opponent, the Bills will serve as a true test. The two best teams in the AFC will square off in a titanic battle for regular-season conference supremacy. Anything the Chiefs do in the disappointing AFC West pales in comparison to how they perform against elite competition.
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