Kansas City Chiefs 20, Tennessee Titans 17
Photo courtesy of USA Today
This was an important Kansas City win for all sorts of reasons, but none are bigger than being 6-2 and tied with the Bills for the best record in an extremely loaded AFC.
Patrick Mahomes is that guy. He’s the quarterback you want leading your team when all the chips are down. The Kansas City offense scored 9 points in three and a half quarters, were getting dominated at the line of scrimmage, couldn’t run the ball at all, and Mahomes put the Chiefs on his back with three runs — a 20 yard scramble on 3rd-and-17, a 14-yard touchdown run, and a two point conversion run — to send the game into overtime.
The Titans are going to win the AFC South and be in the playoffs again. By this performance alone, nearly winning as 13.5-point underdogs with a backup quarterback that completed just 5 of 16 passes, I put head coach Mike Vrabel firmly into the conversation for best coach in the NFL. At present I still have Bill Belichick number one and Andy Reid number two, but I challenge anyone to find a coach who wins so much with so little on such a regular basis.
The Bills are and have been the best team in the NFL this season (despite the Eagles still being undefeated), but QB Josh Allen might have to miss some time with an elbow injury and that’s obviously going to hurt their chances of winning a Super Bowl. So long as Allen plays, Buffalo is going to be favored. But the road is going to be a lot harder if they have to travel to Kansas City in the playoffs for a third straight year.
The Chiefs’ schedule is going to get significantly lighter in the second half of the season, so if ever they are going to go on a run and make a genuine push to get the top seed in the conference it would be now. Their next four games come against the Jaguars (at home), Chargers (on the road), Rams (home) and Bengals (road). If they can somehow manage three wins there it would bring them to 9-3 before a relative cakewalk to close out the year against the Broncos (twice), Texans, Seahawks and Raiders.
Assuming Josh Allen isn’t out for more than a week, if that, I am guessing it’s going to take at least 13 wins for Kansas City to earn the coveted Bye in the first week of the postseason. Since Buffalo won the head-to-head, it means the Chiefs will need to be a game ahead of them at season’s end. It’s a tall order and I’m not expecting it — particularly based on how KC takes so many games off — but there is certainly a path to get there.
The NFL is weird.