You know it’s bad when Ryan Tannehill is doing the Jumpman logo in the end zone.
The previously mighty Kansas City Chiefs traveled to Tennessee to take on the Titans on Sunday, and left with nothing but a 27–3 loss. Well, that’s not exactly true. The Chiefs are also heading back to Kansas City with a wobbly Patrick Mahomes, courtesy of a late hit that knocked him out of the game. In came in the immortal Chad Henne, a perfect capper for a catastrophic afternoon for last year’s AFC representative in the Super Bowl, who have dropped to 3–4 for the season.
As has been the case for most of the season, the main culprit for Kansas City’s struggles was its defense. The Chiefs’ putrid defense played putridly on Sunday, giving up 369 yards to a Titans offense that dominated without even needing to get out of second gear. Case in point: Derrick Henry, destroyer of run worlds, “only” put up 86 yards on 29 carries, and yet still this game was over before halftime. The Titans were blanked in the second half and it did not matter one bit.
Part of that early dominance did come from Henry, who, quite hilariously, threw for a touchdown to open the scoring, but the other, more relevant part is that Tannehill was able to pick and choose his spots against the Chiefs defense that came into the game giving up nearly seven yards per play. (Somehow, the Chiefs only gave up 5.9 per play on Sunday, so … improvement?) Tannehill finished with a solid 270 yards and a touchdown pass to go along with the rushing touchdown you can see him celebrating in the photo above, against only one pick and six incompletions.
The main beneficiary from the Chiefs’ defensive malaise was A.J. Brown, who finished the game with eight catches for 133 yards and a score. Brown is now the fifth wide receiver to hit 100-plus yards against the Chiefs this year.
Perhaps more concerning for Kansas City, though, was that Mahomes and the offense got nothing going against a stout Titans defense that made them fight for every single one of their 334 yards. The run offense for the Chiefs was non-existent, which allowed Tennessee to rush at Mahomes, sacking him four times, forcing a fumble, and notching an interception. That takeaway, by Rashaan Evans, turned this into Mahomes’ sixth straight game with a pick. Mahomes wasn’t able to finish out the game after the aforementioned late hit, though he did pass a concussion test.
Are Kansas City’s weaknesses fixable? It’s hard to bet against the Chiefs after their success over the last half-decade, but every dynasty eventually falls apart. It seems impossible for this particular defense to keep the offense within striking distance of the opponent, and the offense is dealing with injuries and lopsided scorelines that force Mahomes to be superhuman at all times. He’s been able to do that in the past, but never to this extent and with this little support: Sunday was Mahomes’ first time ever down by 27 points in the NFL. The Titans are very good, but Kansas City didn’t do itself any favors on either side of the ball. Time is running out to find a solution, and nothing on Sunday hinted at anything in Kansas City’s future besides disappointment.