With another big primetime showdown against the Packers on deck, the Chiefs have an opportunity to silence doubters without Mahomes. Does it matter if they lose?
Kansas City’s reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes has spent most of his 2019 season hobbled by a sprained ankled. Despite that, he’s continued to lead the Chiefs to a 4-2 record (the Week Seven game against the Broncos, which is did not finish, not included), and leads the NFL in passing yards to this point.
But, a dislocated knee cap in the second quarter of their Week Seven game all but ensures that Mahomes will watch from the sideline (or does it?) as the Chiefs take on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week Eight.
Despite Mahomes starting practice when the team got to work this week, he was limited and taking reps as the fourth quarterback as part of the offense. There has to be a near zero percent chance that Mahomes starts for Kansas City this weekend, even if he is a cyborg or from another planet.
So, with the understanding that Mahomes is likely on the bench Sunday, does it even matter if the Chiefs lose to the Packers Sunday Night?
The answer is definitively no, and there are three primary reasons why this is the case.
First, the Chiefs injury report from Wednesday’s practice features 11 players including eight of the team’s 22 day one starters. That’s a terrifyingly large amount of key contributors to the team’s overall chances at success. Even if the Chiefs were to get all seven of the non-Mahomes starters back, it is evident that they would still be playing with a squad which is not anywhere near rolling on all cylinders. Kansas City’s season will be judged based on how successful they are in January/February, and not at all at how they function at less than full strength in October/November.
Second, the Chiefs play in the AFC West. The Chiefs are the only team in the division with a winning record and have a three game lead over second place Oakland (the Raiders are 3-3, have already had their bye and have already lost to KC, each of which add a half game to the Chiefs’ lead). The Chiefs still have two games against a Chargers squad who seems to have completely lost their way, another game against the now-selling Broncos, and a second matchup with the Raiders. Only one of those games happens before the Chiefs’ bye week (Week 11 against LA), and the Chiefs have owned the division over the last several seasons. To put it simply, there is a very low risk that the Chiefs AFC West title is in any real danger this season, let alone as the result of a loss in their game against the Packers.
Finally, Green Bay is really good. While Mahomes is speculatively worth nine points to the spread for Kansas City, the Chiefs would have their hands full in this game even if Mahomes was playing at 100%, and even if the team itself was at full strength. If the Chiefs lose to the Packers on Sunday night, it could be a result of the injuries the team has sustained in the first half of the 2019 season, or it could simply be that the Packers are a formidable opponent who is fully capable of coming in to Arrowhead Stadium and knocking off Kansas City. It could be that Aaron Rodgers has found his stride and returned to MVP form in Matt LaFleur’s offense. It could be that the team is getting healthier, specifically that they get Davante Adams back from injury. It could be that the Chiefs’ defensive performance against Denver in Week Seven was a result of Joe Flacco and not the result of a defensive revelation. Simply, there are innumerable plausible explanations for a Chiefs loss, and they center around how good Green Bay is, and not a referendum on Kansas City’s team.
A loss to the Packers on Sunday Night Football will drop the Chiefs in Power Rankings across the league. But, it should do nothing to change fans’ or analysts’ thought that Kansas City will be relevant come playoff time. The Chiefs will be healthy at some point later this season, and are likely aiming for their Week 13 matchup with the Raiders to do so. In Week 14, they travel to New England to take on the Patriots. Reserve judgment on Kansas City’s Super Bowl hopes until after that contest.