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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly in the Chiefs AFC West Clinching Victory

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With the Kansas City Chiefs trailing 17-7 in the first half, moments of Déjà vu smothered the fans, but the team methodically matriculated their comeback and held off the Cincinnati Bengals with a 25-17 win, giving them their eighth straight AFC West Title. In my latest fan view column, I present the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Sunday.

The Good

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The Chiefs had an incredible first drive; the running game was humming, and we were unafraid to keep feeding it.

Harrison Butker hitting a 50-plus yarder was helpful, as well as each of his six total field goals; he must be the MVP for the game. 

Isiah Pacheco had a fantastic game.  On his long run before halftime, he just hit another gear.

Rashee Rice had another great game, and nothing better than his 67-yard reception, the Chiefs’ most extended pass play of the season.  I thought he may break away, but not quite.  Justin Watson also had a nice long catch; it was great seeing Mahomes connecting on a couple of those.

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Mahomes had a good game, consistently making needed throws even though he was under duress for much of the game.  His incomplete fourth-quarter screen pass but saved a sack was one of the game’s more significant plays.  This was the case with his back-to-back runs, the second of which, on fourth down, was not an easy play to convert as he powered through two Bengals defenders. 

His cape removal when he came out for the kneel-downs had our entire family laughing out loud.  

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Seeing the coaches committing to running the ball for the entire game was excellent.  I was concerned we would abandon it for a while in the third quarter, but we gave the Bengals a heavy dose of Pacheco down the stretch to wear them out.

Richie James’ punt return was huge.  That play set up the Chiefs in field goal range and can’t be overlooked. 

The way the defense stepped up late was imposing and necessary.  After having no pressure for 50 minutes, they just unleashed on Browning, sacking him four times on the Bengal’s last drive. 

The Bad

In the first half, we just let Jake Browning run at will.  Our defense turned him into Lamar Jackson as a runner.  Speaking of our defense, the first two drives, I lost count of how many wide-open Bengals there were, especially on screens and short passes to the sides.

L’Jarius Sneed is excellent, but he needs to clean up all the holding-on routes. His interference penalty in the end zone gave the Bengals four points. Otherwise, knowing the ball was severely overthrown, it led to four points for the Bengals, who would have kicked the field goal.  Penalties were again a killer, twice extending drives on third down, and neither time was necessary. 

Travis Kelce had another drop, this time on third down, but the throw from Mahomes was poor. If you don’t make the catch, nothing else about where the first down marker is matters. In other words, secure the catch first and worry about the yardage after that act with the ball.

The inability of our receivers to get open on critical third downs, even when the line is protecting Mahomes, remains a work in progress. However, they did stretch the field.  

The Ugly

Our coaches didn’t make any egregious decisions like allowing Bradley Chubb to still be in the game down 30 points or the Lions trying to go for the two-point conversion for the win rather than the tie.

Still, I’ll forever question the way Reid uses first-half timeouts.  I was fine calling a timeout when the Bengals had a 2nd and 8, even though it makes me nervous. They got seven on the next play, and we called another timeout.  I believe far more can go wrong for us there than right, and thankfully, the half ended with no more scoring.

Wayna Morris was under siege in the first half, which led to the Mahomes fumble.  Why he was allowed to line up one-on-one against Hendrickson repeatedly baffles me, and it seemed he got beat like a drum each time he did. However, the Chiefs did give him some blocking help in the second half. I’m hoping Smith is back for the playoffs.

J’Marr Chase is a turd, that is all.

On Browning’s touchdown run, Mike Danna was poorly held on the edge by Ford, the tackle for the Bengals.  He ultimately got the jersey around the shoulder and prevented Danna from maintaining the edge.  Also, I wouldn’t say I liked how the officials allowed the Bengals to call the false start against us at the end of the half. The flag came in so late, and I believe it was only because the Bengals wanted it called so severely. 

The intentional grounding on the Bengals was a bad call; I’d be distraught if I’d been a fan of theirs then.  And we were also fortunate they missed Chris Jones lining up offside.  I’ll not even address why Jones would do that in a critical situation, but it was good to see the poor calls even out.

Willie Gay and Charles Omenihu getting into it on the sideline was just another black eye for our team. I get that these things happen, and players and coaches are frustrated, but we must get control of our emotions and put the energy into our opponents.

We nearly turned the ball over again after Mahomes fumbled on the following kickoff.  The kickoff was placed perfectly, but I would like to see someone going to get the ball or having more awareness than we did.

MVS killed a drive all by himself, dropping the ball on third and three.  Later, he had a chance for redemption on what would have been a nice deep catch, but he again came up short.  I’m giving this no thought, but I think this was one of the ten worst free-agent signings I’ve seen with my team.

I have no words for Richie James fielding the punt in the end zone. 

The turnover battle continues to plague us.  The Chiefs lose the per-game turnover ratio by turning the ball over .7 times more than their opponent.  We are last in the league in that category.  We either need to fix that, or the playoffs will be short for us.

Butker hitting six field goals is good, but it’s also wrong.  We must get back to punching that ball in the end zone. 

In summary, the Chiefs locked up their eighth straight division title. They trail only the Patriots team that got 11 straight.  I like our chances to break that record.

I believe we will use next week as a semi-bye, resting all players we can’t afford to lose and giving them mental rest while we are locked into the 3rd seed.  We host Miami if the Bills beat the Dolphins.  I’m good with that matchup.  

My favorite line of the night, and shout out to Jason Bennett for catching the exact quote, when the announcer said, “With that win, both the Broncos and Bengals are eliminated.”  Regardless of how far we go this year, it doesn’t get much sweeter than that. 

Happy New Year.  Feel free to follow or friend me if you enjoy this content.

The following is another fan shoutout, so stop reading if you are only here for the football.  My friend from Africa, Travis Lawranzo, has quite the story of becoming a Chiefs fan.  He was born in Liberia but had to flee about 782 miles to Ghana as a refugee.  He credits God with helping his family escape alive.  There, he got an Xbox and started playing football games, where he had always wanted to be the Chief. 

He fell in love with the Chiefs when they lost to the Patriots instead of going to the Super Bowl, but Mahomes won his first MVP.  So, he started going onto YouTube, watching Chiefs videos, and came across the Franchise production.  He’s been hooked ever since and never misses a game, even when it’s hard to view. 

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