No matter how it went down, it was shocking to see the Kanas City Chiefs lose last night. Even with the Detroit Lions being a trendy upset pick and KC being down its second and third-best players in Travis Kelce and Chris Jones, the defending Super Bowl champions have found a way more times than not over the last several years. Its happened so frequently since the rise of Patrick Mahomes that even on a fourth-and-25, I expected some sorcery to where everything worked out for the almost-impenetrable Chiefs. It didn’t happen that way and now Kansas City has gone from Super Bowl favorites to a team with plenty of tangible red flags.
It’s one game, I get it, and part of why the NFL season is long is because coaches and players have a chance to correct mistakes. And if Kadarius Toney didn’t have anti-Velcro hands last night, the Chiefs would have been in a great position to win the game. It says a lot about where both the Lions and Chiefs are at if the latter needed a last-second field goal or touchdown to win. To be fair, a Jones-less defense only allowed two touchdowns to a Detroit team that’ll prove it’s hard to stop the deeper the season goes. Kansas City is no doubt better with Jones on the field and anyone who argues otherwise is as unreliable as Toney’s hands. However, there are several NFL defenses that wouldn’t have been as cohesive without its best player as the Chiefs looked Thursday.
The biggest “we need Jones” sign didn’t happen until that miraculous 4th-and-25 conversion didn’t happen. You can argue Andy Reid should’ve punted the ball with three timeouts back to the Lions instead of going for it, and should’ve re-thought his original decision after a false-start penalty drove Kansas City five yards closer to its end zone. The one part of that argument missing is that no matter what field position Detroit had in the final two minutes, Kansas City lost those battles in the trenches quite convincingly. Jones thrives in those moments and would’ve been a brick wall to get through. Instead, David Montgomery found his way through the tackles without pushback until a few yards deep.
We all know the advantage the Chiefs hold at tight end with a healthy Kelce, who hadn’t previously missed a game since 2014. Kansas City has nine tight ends and wide receivers on its active roster without the last name Kelce. Turns out, the odd man out last night covers for them all. In how many scenarios did Mahomes have to go outside the pocket, avoid all the defensive ends and linebackers to deliver a pass and his greatest security blanket wasn’t there? How many different moments last night would’ve turned out differently? I can tell you there’s zero chance the Chiefs go 0-for-7 in the second half on third down.
In terms of being the most complete team in the NFL, the Chiefs were never that. They relied on their biggest stars more than any other team in the league. Kansas City’s biggest star, if not the biggest star in the entire league, was exposed last night. He wasn’t exposed as less than he’s billed to be. Trust me, I’ve had him in fantasy since 2018, I know just how great he is. Mahomes was literally exposed. No player is good enough to defeat a good team by himself, not even Mahomes. And last night proved the lack of substance around Kansas City’s best players. That’s not an easy fix with all the maneuvering that typically happens in the offseason. The Chiefs can’t be counted out, but last night will sting more than expected.