This was Joe Judge on Wednesday, nearly rendered speechless — not a common occurrence for the fast-talking head coach — when asked to consider a scenario that sounded absurd to even verbalize a few weeks ago.
Given the struggles of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs this season, is it possible the rest of the NFL has caught up to them?
“I mean, how’d the league catch up to them?’’ Judge said. “Is everyone as fast as Tyreek Hill or [Mecole] Hardman? Can everybody cover the ball as deep as [Mahomes] can throw that thing? I think it’s a foolish narrative for us to buy into if we think this team isn’t as good as they are.’’
Yeah. Foolish narrative.
“This is a damn good team,’’ Judge continued. “They’re very explosive, they’re very dangerous. These guys are going to be playing their best ball Monday night. We’re going out into a tough atmosphere, it’s a lot of great energy out there, so we’ve got to get ready this week to play our best football.’’
That the Chiefs — a Super Bowl favorite heading into the season — have exactly one more victory (three) than the Giants (two) seven weeks into the season is not a misprint, although it certainly seems as if it should be. That the Chiefs (3-4) and Giants (2-5) both own a share of last place in their respective divisions is a sign that it is business as usual for the Giants and an upside-down reality for the Chiefs.
Giants at Kansas City in Week 8, when the schedule was released, had the feel of a “Monday Night Football’ prime-time rout at Arrowhead Stadium. That could turn out to be the case, of course, but given what the Giants are coming off — a 25-3 beating of the Panthers — and what the Chiefs recently left behind — a 27-3 spanking by the Titans in Nashville — perhaps the Giants are more capable and the Chiefs are more vulnerable than they have been in quite some time.
There is no doubt the Chiefs on defense are lacking. They are 28th in the league in yards allowed, 26th in passing yards allowed, 27th in rushing yards allowed and 28th in points given up, at 29 per game. The Ravens put up 36. The Chargers got 30. The Bills piled up 38.
The Chiefs can be beaten on defense.
“I don’t know if I see it that way and I know the team doesn’t,’’ quarterback Daniel Jones said. “They’re a good defense. They’ve been a good defense for the past however many years, the Chiefs have been a top team in the league. They’ve got really good players on defense, guys who can disrupt the game and who can make big time plays. I don’t think there’s anyone on our team or in this building who’s going to overlook them.’’
The Chiefs’ offensive shortcomings are overstated. They are No. 3 in the NFL in total yards, No. 4 in passing yards, No. 14 in rushing yards and eighth in scoring at 26.9 points a game. Failing to score a touchdown last week against the Titans is an outlier. Other than that game, the Chiefs are scoring at a 30.8-point clip.
Mahomes has 18 touchdown passes — he is on pace for 44 — but he has thrown nine interceptions and has at least one turnover in six consecutive games and more than one turnover in his last three games. This is uncharacteristic of Mahomes.
“He looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the world to me,’’ Judge said. “This guy is — look, to be as athletic as he is, as just naturally instinctive as he is and have that kind of arm strength to make all those throws, there’s a reason this guy gets paid that much money because there’s not a lot of these guys walking the Earth.’’
The Chiefs, after facing the Giants, get the Packers, Raiders and Cowboys, three teams currently in first place. If they do not beat the Giants they could be in trouble in the AFC West, already trailing the Raiders and Chargers.
The Giants? They insist they are viewing the Chiefs as the powerhouse they were supposed to be.
“Nobody in this building is going to in any way, shape or form underestimate this team. Period,’’ Judge said. “This is a very good team. We know that. We know how dangerous and explosive they are. We always expect everybody’s best game. It’s our job to make sure that we’re not overconfident or underestimate anybody.’’
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