fb-pixel Skip to main content
ben volin | on football

NFL Week 5: Has the Chiefs’ mini-dynasty run its course?

Sunday's loss to Buffalo was the worst home setback of coach Andy Reid's time in Kansas City.Jamie Squire/Getty

The Chiefs have reached three straight AFC Championship games and two straight Super Bowls, and brought back the same core of players for another run in 2021.

But there’s a risk in getting the band back together: Eventually, you run out of hits.

The Super Bowl seems a long way off for the Chiefs after their latest loss, a 38-20 thrashing by the Bills that was their worst home loss in coach Andy Reid’s eight seasons. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is playing the sloppiest football of his career, the defense is statistically the worst in the league, and the Chiefs currently sit in last place in the AFC West at 2-3.

Advertisement



The 2021 season is starting to look like the final curtain for this Chiefs team, which is where we begin the Week 5 review.

▪ The Chiefs can still score points, averaging 32.6 per game, third-most in the NFL. But that’s about the only thing going right. The defense ranks 32nd in points allowed after giving up at least 30 in each of the last four games. The Bills averaged 8.1 yards per play and scored four touchdowns on offense.

Mahomes is turning the ball over at a rate unprecedented for him. He is tied for third in the NFL with six interceptions and is second with seven giveaways, behind only Jaguars rookie Trevor Lawrence (10).

But it’s not all Mahomes’s fault. The Chiefs are top-heavy with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, and seem to miss former No. 3 receiving option Sammy Watkins. Mecole Hardman (199 yards and a touchdown) isn’t getting it done, and the Chiefs are so desperate that they added Josh Gordon, who had one catch for 11 yards Sunday. Hill is averaging a career-low 13.9 yards per catch, and Kelce is averaging his second-worst at 12.2.

Advertisement



To make matters worse, the injury bug is creeping in. Sunday night, Hill hurt his knee, as did running back Clyde Helaire-Edwards, and guard Joe Thuney suffered a fractured hand.

The Chiefs started 5-0 in 2017 and 2018, and 4-1 the last two years. Now they are 2-3. There is still time to turn it around, and it would be foolish to count out Mahomes. But this is starting to look like the end of the road for this mini-dynasty.

▪ The Bills, meanwhile, continue to look like a Super Bowl favorite. They lead the league in scoring (34.4 points per game) and points allowed (12.8 per game) and have a plus-108 point differential that is 46 points better than any other team.

Buffalo's Josh Allen passed for 315 yards and rushed for 59 in the rout of Kansas City.Peter Aiken/Associated Press

Josh Allen has 11 total touchdowns and just one interception in his last three games, and the Bills could have beaten the Chiefs by even more if not for sloppiness with penalties (10 for 103 yards).

▪ Bills-Chargers in the AFC Championship game, anyone? The Chargers also are emerging as an elite contender following Sunday’s wild 47-42 comeback win over the Browns.

The Chargers became the first team in four years to score at least 26 points in the fourth quarter, and Justin Herbert continues to amaze in his second season, throwing for 398 yards and four touchdowns while adding a rushing touchdown.

The Chargers are this year’s Buccaneers; they have had a ton of talent, but now it’s coming together with great quarterback play and great coaching from Brandon Staley’s staff.

Advertisement



▪ Can anyone kick around here? The Packers and Bengals were comically bad at the end of their game, combining to miss five straight field goal attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime before Green Bay’s Mason Crosby finally ended the madness with a 49-yarder for the win.

Crosby was just 4 of 7 on the day, becoming the first kicker since Cleveland’s Matt Stover in 1992 to attempt seven field goals and miss three.

Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby (right) had a tough day in Cincinnati.Andy Lyons/Getty

Kickers didn’t fare any better on extra points, which were moved back to 33 yards in the 2015 season. The 83.8 success rate in Week 5 (entering Monday’s game) is second-worst behind Week 11 of 2016 (81.3 percent,) when there were also 12 misses.

For the season, kickers are hitting just 92.4 percent of extra points, the worst mark since the new rule was instituted. Extra-point accuracy has decreased every year since 2017.

▪ The Cardinals are 5-0 for the first time since 1974, and proved they can win with defense. They held rookie Trey Lance and the 49ers to just 10 points and 338 yards, and stopped San Francisco on 4 of 5 fourth-down attempts.

J.J. Watt hasn’t gotten a ton of press out in the desert, but he had three quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, and a pass batted down Sunday.

▪ Second-year Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, younger brother of Bills receiver Stefon Diggs, is playing like the next coming of Deion Sanders. Diggs has an NFL-high six interceptions, and became just the third player in the Super Bowl era to have one in each of his team’s first five games (Brian Russell in 2003 and Lemar Parrish in 1979).

Advertisement



Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs (left) is picking off passes at an impressive rate.Matt Strasen/Associated Press

The Cowboys are No. 2 in the NFL in scoring (34.0) and turnovers created (12). They always have a lot of hype, but this year’s team is a legit contender.

▪ Urban Meyer’s Jaguars are still a mess. They fell to 0-5 after a 37-19 trouncing by the Titans, and Meyer perhaps got himself in trouble again with his mouth. When asked why he called a handoff instead of a quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-goal run that was stuffed, Meyer said Lawrence is “not quite comfortable” with the sneak.

Lawrence later responded: “No, I feel comfortable. Obviously, I haven’t really ran it before in a game, but I feel comfortable.”

Meyer isn’t going to help his job security by throwing his franchise quarterback under the bus.

Ranking the rookie QBs

1. Mac Jones, Patriots: Good: His 71.1 completion percentage ranks sixth in the NFL. Bad: His 6.54 yards per attempt rank 32nd out of 37. He needs to throw downfield more.

2. Justin Fields, Bears: Another solid win in which he didn’t do much: 12-of-20 passing for 111 yards and a touchdown.

3. Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars: He is second in the NFL with eight interceptions, but at least he has thrown just one in the last two weeks.

Advertisement



4. Davis Mills, Texans: Had a huge game against the Patriots, becoming the first rookie QB in NFL history to record 300 yards, three touchdown passes, and a passer rating of 140. But you can’t forget last week’s stinker (87 yards, four interceptions).

5. Trey Lance, 49ers: Did rush 16 times for 89 yards, but he barely completed 50 percent of his passes (15 of 29) and his team scored only 10 points. Jimmy Garoppolo might not have to worry about getting his job back.

6. Zach Wilson, Jets: Leads the NFL with nine interceptions and has the lowest passer rating among 37 quarterbacks (62.9).

Tracking former Patriots

Buccaneers QB Tom Brady: First time in 351 career games that he threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns.

Dolphins QB Jacoby Brissett: Toughed out a hamstring injury, but fell to 0-3 as a starter this year, and his 5.43 yards per attempt rank 36th out of 37.

Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones: Played 46 snaps and didn’t register a single stat against the 49ers. He’s Mr. All-Or-Nothing.

Dolphins coach Brian Flores: Now his defense is a mess, too. The Dolphins’ minus-75 scoring differential is worst in the NFL.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel: If only they could play the Jaguars every week

Giants coach Joe Judge: Only the Lions have a worse record in the NFC, and now the Giants face the Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, and Raiders.

Stats of the Week

▪ The Browns became the first team in NFL history to lose with 40 points and zero turnovers. Teams had been 463-0.

▪ The season has already seen 18 games with a winning score in the final minute of regulation or overtime, an NFL record through five weeks.

▪ Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase joined Randy Moss and Calvin Ridley as the only rookies with five touchdown catches in their teams’ first five games.

▪ Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is the second player in the Super Bowl era to start 5-0 with a completion percentage of at least 75 and 1,500 passing yards. The other was Peyton Manning in 2013, when he won the MVP and reached the Super Bowl.


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com.