One of the biggest disappointments thus far in the 2021 season has to be Patrick Mahomes. This man had the greatest three year start to any career ever. Now, in his fourth season, the man is tied for the third-most interceptions in the league. He has been absolutely manhandled by some of the toughest teams in the league (Tennessee and Buffalo) and has struggled to take down some of the weaker teams in the NFL as well. Mahomes and the Chiefs barely snuck by the New York Giants and only managed to put up 13 points against a Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team.
In fact, prior to Week 10, Mahomes hadn’t had a game with multiple TD passes and no interceptions since Week 1. Then, right when we’d all sort of given up on this season for Mahomes, as if on cue, he goes off for 400 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions.
While it’s almost sinful to bet against Mahomes nowadays, we can’t look past his underwhelming and sometimes downright poor play this season. As much as I’d like to believe Mahomes is back in form and will tear apart the league for the remainder of the season, one incredible week against the Raiders isn’t enough to make me forget everything else. That’s where this weekend comes in. The Dallas Cowboys should be a perfect measuring stick to determine whether we can put our faith in Mahomes once again.
Depending on who you ask, Dak Prescott is arguably the frontrunner for the MVP award right now. He has led his Cowboys to a 7-2 record — third-best in the NFC, and aside from a little hiccup against the Broncos two weeks ago, the Cowboys have been one of the most consistent teams in the league.
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What’s been most shocking about the Cowboys season has been their defense though. A bottom-10 overall unit in 2020 and second-worst in rushing, the Cowboys have turned their misfortune into a strength in 2021. The Cowboys are not bottom 10 in any defensive category and are actually top 10 in rushing defense. The emergence of Trevon Diggs as a turnover-producing monster has played a large role in this turnaround. The Cowboys have forced the third-most interceptions per game in the NFL, and Diggs has more than half of them. However, as I’ve said before, Diggs isn’t the best coverage corner. Chiefs’ receiver Tyreek Hill thrives on being able to get separation with his speed. For someone like Diggs, who struggles to keep up with top receivers, Hill is an absolute nightmare.
Does that mean Hill is destined to have a monster game this Sunday? No. Opposing teams have made an effort to limit Hill’s impact in the Chiefs’ passing game this year. It’s been an effective strategy and was a large reason for why the Chiefs got off to such a slow start, so it stands to reason that the Cowboys would build their gameplan around that same ideology. However, if there’s anybody for Hill to take advantage of, it’s Diggs.
That’s one solid outlet for Mahomes this weekend, but looking solely at Hill won’t be enough to warrant faith in Mahomes once again. What I want to see from the former No. 10 overall pick this weekend is smart decision-making. That’s all. Just make good decisions. Mahomes often looked too loose with the football through the first nine weeks of the season. He seemed so invested in producing positive yardage that he didn’t care if he made an ill-advised throw just to get the ball out of his hands when he felt pressure bearing down.
That impulsive decision-making led to several of his interceptions. Against a Cowboys’ defense that loves to take advantage of their opponents’ mistakes, that gung-ho mentality he had between Weeks 2 and 9 could cost the Chiefs greatly. Hopefully, he takes a page out of his own playbook from a week ago and doesn’t try to force big plays, rather just take them when they come.