The Raiders came into "Sunday Night Football" with a chance to at least slightly bury the defending AFC champion Chiefs in the crowded West. Instead, they got buried on their own turf. Derek Carr and Co. kept pace with their division rivals into the second half a week after being upset by the Giants, but from halfway through the third quarter on, it was all Chiefs, with Patrick Mahomes seemingly reverting to MVP form, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce exploding with him, and Steve Spagnuolo's defense blanking Vegas down the stretch en route to a 41-14 blowout.
The Chiefs have not looked pretty for much of 2021, but on Sunday night, they looked like contenders once again. And now, at 6-4, they are officially atop the AFC West with the playoff picture just starting to take shape.
Here are some takeaways from Sunday night's big Kansas City victory, which dropped Las Vegas to 5-4:
Why the Chiefs won
Don't look now, but their offense might have come back from the dead. Not that they ever lacked talent, but on Sunday night, Mahomes didn't try to hide his acrobatic gifts in the name of controlling the ball. Instead, he finally found some balance and touch, restoring all-night chemistry with Hill and Kelce. He still took or missed a few unnecessary shots, but that's nitpicking considering the ease with which he operated for much of the evening. And how about Darrel Williams? The backup running back made a case to be the indefinite RB1 with his pass-catching performance, particularly on a leaping fourth-quarter score. Defensively, the Chiefs also confirmed they're still trending upward: the trenches made some noise early, and Tyrann Mathieu erased Darren Waller when it mattered. Throw in a perfectly executed fake punt from Tommy Townsend, and it was an all-around show.
Why the Raiders lost
For the second straight week, their offense devolved. Week 9 may have been lackluster in part due to the sudden void left by Henry Ruggs' departure, but at least it saw Waller and Hunter Renfrow step up to collect targets. Against the Chiefs, Renfrow made a nice end-zone TD catch and helped set up a garbage-time scoring drive, but that was about it for Vegas' passing game, save for one deep Bryan Edwards catch. DeSean Jackson's debut ended up costing them more than helping them thanks to the veteran's second-half fumble, while Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake registered almost nothing on the ground. A late Carr arm-punt pick helped keep the ball in K.C.'s hands, and the Raiders defense had no answers for the Chiefs as the game wore on, proving occasionally feisty up front but always a step or two behind in the secondary.
The Raiders got the ball down 10 points with just over seven minutes left in the third, and they had reason to believe they could still win the game, having just driven 75 yards to pull within three earlier in the quarter. Carr even hit Edwards for 24 yards to put Vegas near midfield on second. But then, on first, he tried for an even bigger shot and hit Jackson, but the latter proceeded to cough up the ball while attempting to elude the pursuing defenders. Mathieu quickly recovered it, and that was pretty much the nail in the Raiders offense's coffin.
Play of the game
Mahomes was back on his magic for most of the night, but Williams deserves most of the credit for this jump-ball scoring catch that put the Chiefs up 34-14:
The Chiefs (6-4), who appear to be at least one big step closer to their Super Bowl-caliber selves, will return home for a spectacle of a Week 11 matchup with the Cowboys (7-2), who just rolled all over the Falcons. The Raiders (5-4), meanwhile, will look to snap a two-game skid by staying at home and playing host to the Bengals (5-4), who will be coming off their bye week.