How do you stop the Kansas City Chiefs?
That's not a rhetorical question. Perhaps it's more existential, since playing them has to make you wonder what is truly the meaning of life.
The Chiefs are like an impossible object. They are the NFL's Penrose Stairs. There is no answer, for you will constantly be walking up stairs just to realize you never went anywhere in your quest to beat them.
That's what I came to realize in the second half of the Chiefs's eventual 33-27 win against Miami. Head coach Brian Flores is the most recent coach to crack the Mahomes Code by virtue of what he did in the 2018 AFC title game. And perhaps with a healthier defense on Sunday he could have given us—and the rest of the league—a blueprint on how to defeat Kansas City.
Yes, Patrick Mahomes has lost games before. But every loss since his MVP season has felt more like a fluke than an indictment on his play or his team. A "they get paid, too" more than "the formula worked."
It was a wild Week 14 Sunday and there's a lot to go over. John Breech, Ryan Wilson and host Will Brinson break it all down on the Pick Six Podcast; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
Want to blitz Mahomes? He'll defeat your man coverage like he did against the Texans, Jets and Ravens. Want to sit back, rush four and play zone? He'll hand the ball off like he did against Buffalo. Want to rely on taking the ball away? The Dolphins got two tipped interceptions in the first half and still trailed at halftime.
I haven't been so convinced a team would repeat as Super Bowl champs in my professional career.
Mahomes ended the game with 393 passing yards but had three interceptions and took a 30-yard sack in the first half that had the Chiefs punting from their own end zone. The Dolphins held them to less than 100 rushing yards. And, again, the Chiefs still won.
The best way to beat Kansas City is to affect the passer, and conventional wisdom would tell you that's possible with the Chiefs. Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out before the season. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz hasn't played since Week 6. Guard Kelechi Osemele tore up both his knees early in the season and is out for the year.
The Dolphins sacked Mahomes three times after he entered the game averaging about a sack per contest. And, again, the Chiefs still won.
Are the Dolphins pretenders? Insomuch as you believed the Dolphins could make noise in January. They'll get to the playoffs and, depending upon the matchup, they could win the wild-card game. But they are similar to the Cardinals in that they'll need the experience of losing to a superior team in these playoffs before coming back in the 2021 season ready to build off it.
But even the defenses you think do a good job against Kansas City still wind up giving up too many points. It's been more than 14 months since the Chiefs were held to fewer than 20 points in a game. And then Dave Toub's special teams can hit you for six, just like Mecole Hardman did on his 67-yard punt return in the third quarter.
Parity in the NFL is such that teams can give them games. The AFC playoffs will be fascinating and so will Super Bowl 55 on CBS when the Chiefs face the NFC champ in Tampa.
I just happen to know who's going to win.
More Week 14 insider notes
- I'm happy for Mitchell Trubisky. Here's a guy who didn't ask to be drafted ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson and who has clearly underachieved. But he's never thrown a teammate under the bus and never had an outwardly bad attitude about his lot in NFL life. This was a big game for the 2017 NFL draft narrative and Trubisky did well.
- The Panthers continue to fail in the fourth quarter. It's great that they're in games against the Bucs, Saints and Chiefs. But losing to the Falcons, Vikings and Broncos in winnable games is concerning. I don't see this team progressing in their quest to learn how to win. The record keeps scratching at the same spot for the Panthers.
- I believe the Jaguars are going to make a move at head coach, and I believe they'll fire Doug Marrone at some point in the evening following their final regular season game. But the Jags kept Marrone because 1) the players love him and 2) there's no better option to take over as interim head coach.