Chiefs unconvincing but get the job done for crucial Sunday Night win

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon


Show Bio

Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email
Read more about Ricky Dimon

It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t especially convincing, but the Kansas City Chiefs won’t worry about style points—especially not in a game as big as this one. A win is a win, and it’s something the Chiefs did not get when they faced the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this season. Monday night’s rematch in Las Vegas gave Kansas City a chance for revenge, and the visitors got it—just barely—by surviving a 35-31 thriller.

The West is won

Just how big was this game? Well, the Raiders went into it with a solid 6-3 record. The Chiefs were 8-1. It doesn’t take a math wizard to figure out that a win would have put Las Vegas just one game out of first place and owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. A loss leaves head coach Jon Gruden’s club three games back with only six to play.

In other words, it’s over.

The Chiefs still have three home games against Denver, Atlanta, and the Chargers. That’s three more wins right there. One more victory at either Tampa Bay (possible), Miami (probable), or New Orleans (possible) would be a mathematical clincher assuming Kansas City takes care of its Arrowhead trio. Based on the Raiders’ remaining schedule, they actually have a realistic chance of running the table. They probably won’t, and it won’t matter if they do—at least not in terms of the division race. But it’s just another indicator of how crucial Sunday night’s contest was. If Las Vegas had pulled off the upset, the AFC West would have gotten incredibly interesting.

Mahomes MVP?

A race that remains interesting is for NFL MVP. Russell Wilson was a considerable favorite for much of the first half of the season, but turnovers and losses by the Seattle Seahawks have put a dent in his bid. Wilson opened the door and Mahomes appears to be walking right through it. Already a one-time MVP winner (2018) and reigning Super Bowl MVP, the former Texas Tech standout has 27 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions this year. He has also scored twice on the ground.

Both of his two interceptions have come against the Raiders, but the one on Sunday night was not at all his fault. With the Chiefs trailing 17-14 late in the first half, Demarcus Robinson broke the wrong way on his route and allowed Las Vegas cornerback Trayvon Mullen to pick off what would have otherwise been an on-target pass by Mahomes at the three-yard line. Of course, Mahomes had no trouble bouncing back from that blemish in the second half. Facing a 31-28 deficit, he led the Chiefs on a 75-yard drive in the final two minutes that was capped off by a 22-yard, game-winning strike to Travis Kelce. Mahomes finished 34-of-45 for 348 yards and two TDs.

Eyes on the prize

Although they all but secured the West title, the defending Super Bowl champions obviously have a lot more on their mind than simply the division. And in order to repeat with the Lombardi Trophy in their hands, they have to get better. Their two most recent scores are 33-31 against the Carolina Panthers and 35-31 against the Raiders. Those kinds of defensive performances are not going to get it done in the playoffs—not when the road to the Super Bowl would likely include a road date with the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0) in the AFC Championship.

Sunday night did nothing to anoint Kansas City as soon-to-be back-to-back Super Bowl champion. Potential disaster, however, was avoided. For now, that’s all that matters.

Pickswise is the home of free NFL picks. Check out the latest NFL props and NFL parlays as well as expert underdog predictions and computer picks.

By signing up you agree to our terms and privacy policy