When a team scores 48 points in a win, you usually end up talking about their offense after the game, but in the Chiefs' 48-9 victory over the Raiders on Sunday, it was their defense that stood out the most.
The Chiefs' defense came up with big play after big play in the win and it all started on the first play from scrimmage when Mike Hughes picked up a Josh Jacobs fumble and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown and after that, the rout was on.
It's fitting that Kansas City got its first touchdown off a turnover, because that ended up being the story of the game. Overall, the Chiefs forced a total of five turnovers against the Raiders and those turnovers would end up leading to a total of 28 points. It was the most turnovers the Chiefs' defense has forced in a game since 2018.
The Chiefs forced three of those five turnovers in the first half, which was a big reason why Kansas City was able to take a 35-3 lead into intermission.
The Chiefs' defense has been the story of their six-game winning streak. What Kansas City's defense has accomplished during the streak is nothing short of impressive and that's because during the first seven weeks of the season, the Chiefs appeared to have one of the worst defenses in football.
During the Chiefs' 3-4 start, the defense surrendered more than 400 yards per game and only tallied seven turnovers. However, during their six-game winning streak, the defense has turned up the heat, surrendering just 311.7 yards per game while racking up 16 turnovers. The most impressive statistic, though, is the fact that no one has been able to score on the Chiefs. In their first seven games, the defense gave up 29 points per game, but during their six-game winning streak, that number is down to 10.9 points per game.
The revival of the Chiefs' season has coincided with the revival of their defense. Every week, the unit comes through with big plays and this week was no different. Besides Hughes' touchdown, we also saw Tyrann Matheiu pick off a pass AND recover a fumble. The Chiefs have also gotten much better at getting pressure on the quarterback. Against the Raiders alone, Kansas City racked up four sacks with Alex Okafor providing 1.5 of those.
The scariest part about the 2021 Chiefs is that their offense hasn't even played its best football yet. If the offense starts firing on all cylinders, this is a team that's going to be nearly impossible to beat.
Kansas City 48-9 over Las Vegas
|The Raiders allowed a scoop-and-score touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and turned the ball over three times in the first half on the way to getting outscored 35-3 in the first two quarters. They never had a chance. You would think a team right in the middle of the jumbled AFC playoff picture would come out revved up to take on the Chiefs in Kansas City, but that did not happen. The Raiders did more than just fall below .500 on Sunday, they also may have fallen out of the playoff race altogether. A loss next week against the Cleveland Browns may put the nail in the coffin.
|The Chiefs' defense scored a touchdown on the first play of the game and recorded another strong outing while the offense finally got rolling. Patrick Mahomes completed 12 of 15 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as the Chiefs jumped out to a 35-3 lead. Kansas City racked up 221 yards of total offense and averaged 7.1 yards per play in the opening half. It was over by then. That's six straight wins for the Chiefs. Keep a tight grip on that No. 1 seed in the AFC, Patriots.
Raiders-Chiefs grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
L.A. Rams 30-23 over Arizona
|If the Rams wanted any chance of winning the NFC West they had to win this game and they responded by going on the road and dominating the Cardinals. The Cards secondary had no answers for Matthew Stafford, who came up with big throw after big throw. On a night where he threw for 287 yards, Stafford got everyone involved as Odell Beckham, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson all had at least one catch of 40 or more yards AND a touchdown. As good as the Rams' offense was, the defense might have been better. The Rams picked off Kyler Murray twice and flustered him into making multiple bad throws.
|Kyler Murray made plenty of huge plays in this game, but those were overshadowed by the multiple big mistakes he made against the Rams and his two biggest mistakes came in the form of two ugly interceptions. In the first quarter, Murray threw an interception on the goal line after driving Arizona 63 yards. His second mistake came when he threw an interception in his own territory that eventually set up a Rams touchdown. The Cardinals also failed to convert on two pivotal fourth downs. Of course, even if Murray had made zero mistakes, the Cards might have still lost and that's because their defense couldn't stop the Rams' high-powered offense. With the loss, not only did Arizona's chances of earning the top seed in the NFC go way down, but there's no longer any guarantee that they're even going to win the NFC West.
Rams-Cardinals grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tennessee 20-0 over Jacksonville
|If this game was any indication, it appears that Urban Meyer might have officially lost the team. Leading up to the game, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported of mounting turmoil in the Jaguars locker room and that turmoil is probably only going to boil over after this loss. The Jaguars showed zero effort on a nightmare day where they never came close to scoring. Trevor Lawrence had an embarrassing day, throwing four interceptions, which all came in the second half.
|Tennessee went into Sunday's game on a two-game losing streak, but that streak is no more and the Titans have their defense to thank for that. In what was easily the Titans' most dominant defensive performance of the season, they absolutely destroyed the Jags offense. Not only did they sack Lawrence three times, but they also picked him off four times. The Titans also pitched just their second shutout over the past 20 years. The Titans' offense wasn't anywhere near perfect -- it totaled under 300 yards -- but it did more than enough for Tennessee to pick up the win.
Jaguars-Titans grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New Orleans 30-9 over New York Jets
|The return of Alvin Kamara seemed to spark the Saints' offense. Playing in his first game since Nov. 7, Kamara went wild, totaling 145 yards and a touchdown with 120 of that coming on the ground. With Kamara in the backfield, that took a lot of pressure off of Taysom Hill, who thrived against the Jets. Not only was he nearly perfect throwing the ball (15 of 21 for 175 yards), but he also rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
|Nearly the entire season has been a struggle for Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and this game was no different. Wilson completed just 45.2% of his passes against the Saints, but that wasn't even the biggest problem for the Jets, the biggest problem was that Wilson and the offense seemed to struggle in key situations. For one, they couldn't do anything in the red zone as they came away with zero touchdowns on three trips inside of the Saints' 20-yard line. They also struggled on third downs, converting just 3 of 14 in the game.
Saints-Jets grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Atlanta 29-21 over Carolina
|Going into this game, the Falcons had one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but you wouldn't know that based on how they played in Carolina. The Falcons' defense absolutely dominated the Panthers and they did that by forcing three turnovers. The biggest play was a 66-yard pick-six by Mykal Walker in the second quarter. Besides the turnovers, the Falcons' defense also stopped the Panthers on two big fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter.
|Cam Newton's storybook return to Carolina is starting to feel more like a horror show. The Panthers quarterback made two huge mistakes against the Falcons and both of those mistakes were costly to Carolina. In the first half, Newton threw a pick-six that gave the Falcons a 14-7 lead. In the second half, Newton lost a fumble that the Falcons would eventually turn into a touchdown. For some reason, Panthers coach Matt Rhule decided to rotate quarterbacks in this game and that decision turned out to be a disaster as P.J. Walker wasn't much better than Newton.
Falcons-Panthers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Seattle 33-13 over Houston
|The Seahawks' offense got a surprise in this game and that surprise was the emergence of Rashad Penny. In what was easily the best game of his career, Penny rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries. Before Sunday, Penny had only hit the 100-yard twice ever in his career. The only player on the field who was more impressive than Penny was Tyler Lockett, who caught five passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. This game was actually close at halftime (16-13), but the Seahawks' defense shut out Houston over the game's final two quarters to help seal the blowout win.
|Davis Mills got off to a hot start in this game, but after he cooled off, so did the Texans' offense. The rookie quarterback completed his first 14 passes for a total of 150 yards, which allowed Houston to come away with 10 points on its first three possessions, but after that, the Texans' offense just disappeared and so did Houston's chances of winning.
Seahawks-Texans grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Dallas 27-20 over Washington
|It didn't take a stellar effort by the Cowboys to knock Washington out early in this game. All they needed to do was what they did: Use the return of Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore to combine with the efforts of DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons to give quarterback Taylor Heinicke nothing short of Hell in a hand basket. Ron Rivera said Mike McCarthy made a "big mistake" in being overconfident this week, but it turns out it was Rivera who did, by not having his team ready to play competitive football. Some believed Washington would have a chance to upset Dallas and send a message to everyone, and while they did send a message, it's not the one they were hoping for. This could've been aced by Dallas, but a near late-game collapse drops the grade a bit.
|Yes, Washington was without several key players due to injury and a rash of positive COVID-19 tests, but everybody on the roster gets paid to perform. The Cowboys have already proven you can win without several starters, because they've already done that this season. There was never a moment when you felt Heinicke was in control of anything, making mistakes when under pressure and when not, throwing just one interception but escaping from what could've easily been a four-interception day. Antonio Gibson was a nonfactor and Washington's defense couldn't do much to capitalize on an uneven day from Dak Prescott. This was a failing grade initially, but raised because of some late-game grit shown by the Football Team.
Cowboys-Washington grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Cleveland 24-22 over Baltimore
|Losing Lamar Jackson clearly hurt, but the Ravens were already down 10 points when the former league MVP left the game. Tyler Huntley played well in relief of Jackson, going 27 of 38 for 270 yards while rushing for 45 yards on six carries. But his two fumbles proved costly for the Ravens, who lost to the Browns for just the fifth time in John Harbaugh's 14 seasons as Baltimore's coach. Huntley had success getting the ball to Mark Andrews (11 receptions for 115 yards) and Rashod Bateman, who recorded his first 100-yard game after pulling down seven passes for 103 yards. And while Huntley was consistency hounded by the Browns' defense, the Ravens' defense failed to register a single sack of Baker Mayfield. Penalties proved extremely costly for the Ravens, who were flagged 10 times for 125 yards. Harbaugh's decision to try for the two-point conversion after the Ravens made it a nine-point game with 8:56 left also contributed to the loss.
|Cleveland dominated the first half and was able to make enough plays to hold off the Ravens in the second half. Cleveland received an efficient game from Mayfield, who went 22 of 32 with 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Defensively, the Browns held the Ravens to just 1 of 12 on third down. They recorded four sacks of Ravens quarterbacks while forcing two key fumbles by Huntley. Cleveland's defense received strong individual efforts from Myles Garrett, defensive backs Grant Despite (11 tackles), John Johnson III (six solo stops), Troy Hill (three tackles for loss), Jadeveon Clowney (1.5 sacks), and Takk McKinley (one sack, one forced fumble).
Ravens-Browns grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
|The final score of this game doesn't really do it justice and that's because the Giants' loss was a bigger blowout than the scoreboard says. The Giants got two garbage-time touchdowns in the final four-and-a-half minutes, but before that, they did absolutely nothing. The defense had no answers for Justin Herbert and offensively, there was no way the Giants were going to win a shootout with Mike Glennon under center. If Giants fans are looking for something to hang their hat on, New York did do a good job of converting third downs (7 of 14), but that was about the only thing they did well in the game.
|When Justin Herbert brings his 'A' game, not many teams in the NFL can slow him down, and Justin Herbert brought his 'A' game. The Chargers QB diced up the Giants with a 275-yard performance that also included three touchdowns. Herbert's most impressive throw came right before halftime when he hit Jalen Guyton for a 59-yard TD on third-and-11. After that score, it felt like the game was over. Defensively, Justin Jones came up big with a sack and a fumble recovery. With the Chargers playing the Chiefs on Thursday, this could have been a trap game, but they didn't overlook the Giants.
Giants-Chargers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Denver 38-10 over Detroit
|The Lions were in this game at halftime, but unfortunately, their offense decided not to show up for the second half. The Lions had the ball five times during the disastrous half and they came away with nothing. Their five possessions ended with a fumble, two fourth-down failures, an interception and the end of the game. Defensively, the Lions had no answers for the Broncos in the red zone. Denver's offense made five trips inside of Detroit's 20-yard line and came away with five touchdowns.
|On a day where the Broncos were celebrating the life of Demaryius Thomas, Denver gave an effort that Thomas would have been proud of. The Broncos dominated the Lions in every way you can possibly dominate another NFL team. Offensively, the Broncos used Melvin Gordon (111 yards and two touchdowns) and Javonte Williams (73 yards and 1 TD) to control the ball. Defensively, not only did the Broncos shut out the Lions in the second half, but they also forced two turnovers that led to two Denver touchdowns. The Broncos have now positioned themselves to make some noise in the AFC playoff race.
Lions-Broncos grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
San Francisco 26-23 over Cincinnati (OT)
|Have to give it to George Kittle in this one. Jimmy Garoppolo went to the pass-catcher he trusts the most in Kittle to help deliver San Francisco the win. Kittle had two big third-down receptions in the fourth quarter and overtime to put San Francisco in position to win -- the first was on a 19-yard catch on a third-and-10 in the final minute to set Robbie Gould up for the potential winning field goal with no time left (Gould missed). The second was a 9-yard catch on a third-and-5 that put the 49ers in the red zone and avoided the tying field goal in overtime. Brandon Aiyuk scored the winning TD on the next play. Nick Bosa had also had a big sack in overtime on third-and-3 that forced the Bengals to kick a field goal in overtime instead of going for the winning touchdown. The 49ers stars put them in position to win -- and as a result San Francisco is 7-6 and a game up on the final wild card spot.
|Joe Burrow did whatever he could to bring the Bengals back, trying to overcome the two muffed punts by Darius Phillips that led to 10 points by the 49ers in the first half. Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase brought Cincinnati back with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter -- one which Burrow took over the game with his arm. The Bengals took a big loss to San Francisco, falling to ninth in the conference standings -- and didn't have a single answer for Kittle. The pass rush also missed Trey Hendrickson in the second half and the offensive line was no match for Bosa. This was a game the Bengals had to have, but there's no reason to panic yet. Their best chance to get into the playoffs is by winning the AFC North.
49ers-Bengals grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tampa Bay 33-27 over Buffalo (OT)
|You have to give them some credit for getting back in the game and forcing OT, but you're not going to win many football games by allowing your opponent to jump out to a 24-3 lead at halftime. The Bills made a number of questionable decisions throughout this game, which contributed to why they were put in such a big hole at the break. They became the first team since 1991 to not hand the ball off to a running back for the entire first half and were 0-5 on third down throughout the opening two quarters. Protecting Josh Allen was also an issue throughout the first half as the quarterback was sacked three times and couldn't get into a consistent rhythm. Corrections were made in the second half, but they still had a few odd decisions, including a failed fake punt on the opening drive of the third quarter. Again, they showed resiliency by drawing even, but they didn't have enough in the tank to fully complete the comeback.
|Tampa Bay was able to get control of this game early by going up 24-3 in the first half, but had what would have been arguably the biggest meltdown of the season if they allowed Buffalo to fully complete the comeback. Over the final two quarters of regulation, the Buccaneers allowed the Bills to get back into this game and outscore them 24-3 to force overtime. They held a 27-10 lead with 11:24 to play in the fourth quarter and the Bills were able to claw their way back. The defense was able to show up in OT, however, and force a three-and-out, and Tom Brady threw a 58-yard walk-off touchdown to Breshad Perriman, so they came out unscathed, but it shouldn't have come down to that.
Bills-Buccaneers grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Green Bay 45-30 over Chicago
|They blew leads of 10-0 and 24-14, and never really threatened in the second half. It took two touchdowns by Jakeem Grant -- a 97-yard punt return and a 54-yard jet sweep touch pass -- to keep this game from being a total embarrassment, and it wound up being pretty close to one anyway.
|They don't get an 'A' due to the awful special teams performance. But once they got over their slow start, the Packers pretty much dominated this game. Aaron Rodgers was throwing into extremely wide windows all night, and they used A.J. Dillon to grind out the clock down the stretch. Plus, the defense had Justin Fields off balance throughout the second half.
Bears-Packers grades by Jared Dubin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)