Four Takeaways From the Chiefs’ 34-28 Win Over the Broncos
Here are four takeaways from the Chiefs’ Week 14 road matchup against the Broncos.
The Kansas City Chiefs came into their Week 14 outing against the Denver Broncos having won 13 consecutive games against their AFC West rivals. Needing the victory in order to keep pace with the Buffalo Bills in the conference standings and also have a chance to clinch the division title by the end of the night, Andy Reid’s group ended up being in for more than many expected.
Despite jumping out to a gigantic early-game lead, Denver was able to bring the score to 27-21 via some offensive progress and a couple of errant Patrick Mahomes decisions. By the end of the night, though, it was the visiting team that still managed to come away with a 34-28 win. Now 10-3 on the year, the Chiefs extended their streak against the Broncos and will face them again in Week 17.
Here are four takeaways from Sunday’s game.
1. Travis Kelce is one of one
Somehow, the legend of Travis Kelce grows with each passing week. Against the Broncos, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer made history by becoming the fastest tight end ever to reach 10,000 career receiving yards. Additionally, he extended his streak of 1,000-yard receiving seasons to a record seven years in a row. He also has at least 80 receptions in seven consecutive seasons, which is the most in Chiefs history and trails only Tony Gonzalez on the all-time NFL leaderboard. Even at the age of 33, Kelce continues to find new ways to excel and remains the best player at his position. Sunday was yet another reminder of that.
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2. Patrick Mahomes had a mixed bag of a game
No one got off to a better start on Sunday than Mahomes, who completed 15 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone (including one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see). On the other hand, he added a pair of first-half interceptions that are no longer very uncharacteristic of him. After another highlight-reel touchdown play in the second half, Mahomes followed it up with a late interception that gave the Broncos more hope than needed. A three-pick afternoon from the best quarterback in the sport won’t fly come playoff time, and Mahomes is making it a habit of mixing in bad decisions with his usual brilliance. For the Chiefs’ sake, he’ll need to iron that out soon.
3. Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon thrived
Early in Kansas City’s win over Denver, rookie running back Isiah Pacheco was breaking off chunk runs and helping keep drives alive. At the very end of the game, he showed why he’s the team’s go-to option on the ground. A 93-yard performance (70 rushing, 23 receiving) from the seventh-round pick — combined with a 112-yard receiving day from veteran Jerick McKinnon — saved the Chiefs’ offense from giving away its lead. Kansas City’s running back duo finds a new balance every week and in Week 14, it was a diet of Pacheco on the ground and McKinnon through the air that made for two unsung heroes against the Broncos.
4. The Chiefs’ defense needs to be better, period
Even with Mahomes’s interceptions and the Kansas City offense stalling on multiple occasions, there aren’t a lot of positive things that can be said about a unit that surrendered 28 points to one of the worst offenses in all of football. Despite several sacks and a critical late-game interception, Steve Spagnuolo’s unit struggled in coverage and looked unfocused all game long. This is no longer a one-off thing — it’s a trend. If Kansas City wants to get to another AFC Championship Game or Super Bowl, its young and unproven defense needs to step up. Blame falls on the shoulders of both the players and Spagnuolo for Sunday’s poor showing.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.