Chiefs news for 2 December 2019
The Chiefs (8-4) have won five-straight games against the Raiders (6-6) and 10 of the last 11 between the two teams. The Chiefs have won 25 of their last 27 games against AFC West opponents.
Usually when the Chiefs bury opponents, they do it behind a high-octane offense. But this time the defense and special teams provided the jump start. On Oakland’s opening drive, safety Tyrann Mathieu picked off a Derek Carr pass to set the Chiefs up at the Oakland 47-yard line.
That was the first of three Oakland turnovers on the day leading directly to 14 Kansas City points. The Chiefs defense generated just 12 turnovers in the team’s first 10 games of the season. In the last two games against the Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs have produced seven turnovers.
The 8-4 Chiefs are two games ahead of the 6-6 and second-place Raiders in the AFC West. They swept the season series, having also won in September when the teams played in Oakland.
That means the Chiefs have the tiebreaker, so they need just two wins in their final four games to clinch their fourth straight AFC West championship. Just one of the Chiefs’ remaining four regular-season opponents has a winning record as of today.
That opponent is defending Super Bowl champion New England. The Chiefs are at the Patriots next Sunday, and beating the Raiders gives the Chiefs some room for error heading into that most challenging assignment.
The difference is that more players are becoming more familiar with Spagnuolo’s schemes as well as each other. “Everything is starting to come together because we know we have guys who can make plays,” said linebacker Reggie Ragland. “(Safety) Tyrann Mathieu has been making plays since he was at LSU. (Safety) Juan Thornhill has been making plays since he was at Virginia. We have a lot of guys who know how to make things happen and we’re playing loose. At the end of the day, it’s our job but we also still need to have fun with it.”
The Chiefs set the tone on defense from the moment this game started. Mathieu intercepted Carr in the first quarter and set up Kansas City’s first score, a 3-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to running back Darrel Williams. The Raiders later tried to convert a fourth-and-1 on the Chiefs 40-yard line in the second quarter. Thornhill sniffed out a jet sweep by Oakland wide receiver Trevor Davis, stuffed the play and the Chiefs eventually turned that into a 13-yard touchdown run by Mahomes.
The Raiders were already reeling by that point and then Thornhill added to their misery with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. Just like that, the Chiefs had a 21-0 lead and all hopes of a decent division battle vanished. “You’ve got to give them credit,” said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. “That is a good defensive team. They do a lot and they came in with a very unorthodox package. They mixed their coverages and mixed their looks. We had some opportunities (but) we just didn’t cash in on them and they did. That is a big part of this game.”
During his conversation with reporters after Sunday’s game, Kelce was asked about the same number of questions about the upcoming Patriots matchup as the game just played vs. the hated Raiders. Kelce understands most NFL fans want to see the two teams play one another — featuring the marquee matchup of Mahomes vs. Brady — after the dramatic AFC Championship Game.
A reporter used the phrase “unfinished business” in the exchange. Kelce didn’t fully agree. He acknowledged, though, that the Patriots are the rival the Chiefs want to conquer next.
“We have a lot of business going up there and coming away with a win,” he said. “I’ll take this group against anybody in the league.”
2. If someone told you that Patrick Mahomes would be held below the 200-yard passing mark, and the Chiefs would have one offensive play that went more than 20 yards, you’d probably think the game was at least close. Nope. Despite getting relatively healthy for the first time in weeks, the K.C. offense, playing in gusty elements that occasionally sent even Mahomes’ normal bullets flying wayward, wasn’t crisp. It mattered naught, with the Chiefs offense taking advantage of short fields and Raiders penalties to blow out the division rival. Rookie running back Darwin Thompson entered late after Darrell Williams left with a hamstring injury. The sixth-round pick looked good, generating 44 yards and a TD late in the fourth quarter as the Chiefs salted away the game. It will be interesting to see if Andy Reid gives the rookie more run down the stretch after the optimistic performance.
3. The victory, in which the Chiefs were flagged for zero accepted penalties for the first time since 1974, per CBS, puts K.C. in position to win the AFC West for the fourth straight season. At 8-4, Reid’s team has a two-game edge on Oakland (6-6) in the win column. After beating the Raiders twice to earn the tiebreaker, the advantage is three games with four to play. Jon Gruden won’t be happy with how his team came out in a rivalry game, which included 12 penalties for 99 yards (one DPI called on a booth review that wiped out an end-zone INT), that essentially handed the Chiefs the division. Oakland has had positive moments this season, but back-to-back losses by 31 points take some shine off the Raiders‘ good games.
The Rest of the West:
Denver Broncos 23 – 20 Los Angeles Chargers
Destined for an overtime showdown with their AFC West rivals, the Chargers (4-8) somehow wrested defeat from the jaws of victory. On the Broncos‘ ensuing possession, Drew Lock launched a prayer along the right sideline in the direction of Courtland Sutton, but the receiver was interfered with by Casey Hayward at the Chargers‘ 35-yard line. The refs threw the flag, and “New York” didn’t call for the PI call to be reviewed. All of this set up a game-winning try from McManus from 53 yards out with three seconds left. The kicker, who had been seen throwing a tantrum in the first half after being denied a crack at a long field goal try, nailed it, his second successful 50-plus-yard try in less than five minutes. As the ball flew through the uprights, so flew Los Angeles’ chances at making the postseason. All eight of the Chargers‘ losses this season have come by one score. So close, so far, so long, L.A.
2. Activated off injured reserve this week after missing Denver’s first 11 games with a thumb injury, Lock finally made his regular-season Broncos debut. The second-round rookie’s first game was mostly a tale of two halves. Lock led touchdown drives on two of his first three drives, including a 12-play, 80-yard march that featured five first downs and a beautiful 26-yard TD pass to a diving Courtland Sutton. The rook found Sutton (four catches, 74 yards) for another score on Denver’s next drive. Lock was 12-of-19 for 123 yards and the two scores at halftime, but he didn’t have nearly as much success coming out of the break. In the second half, Lock threw a bad pick over the middle to Denzel Perryman, completing six of nine passes for just 13 yards, none of them to wide receivers. With the downfield element mostly eliminated, Lock still showcased smart play on Denver’s go-ahead drive midway through the fourth quarter, especially on a third-down conversion to Jeff Heuerman that extended the march. But the Broncos relied mostly on Lock’s stellar first half and second-half dump-offs to running backs to hold on for the victory. Denver (4-8) compiled just 218 net yards in the win, which was an improvement on the 134 Brandon Allen‘s Broncos offense mustered last week against Buffalo but left Lock room for improvement in the season’s dying weeks.