OK, now it’s time to worry about the Kansas City Chiefs

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<span>Photograph: Mark Zaleski/AP</span>
Photograph: Mark Zaleski/AP

When the NFL season began, the question was whether anybody in the AFC could topple the Kansas City Chiefs. Now the question is very different: are we entirely sure the Chiefs are even a good team? The Tennessee Titans humiliated the Chiefs 27-3 on Sunday, in a loss that could propel Kansas City into an identity crisis.

At the moment they look nothing like the team that went to two straight Super Bowls, winning one of them. Their record this season stands at 3-4, and they face the very real possibility of missing the playoffs.

It all starts with the defense, which has always been the Chiefs’ weak point – just not this weak. On Sunday, Kansas City gave up an astonishing 277 yards to the Titans in the first half alone, leading to the largest halftime deficit quarterback Patrick Mahomes has faced in his career: 24-0. That’s not a great showing for (apparently) the second-most expensive defense in the NFL.

Related: Bengals’ Burrow and Chase dominate Ravens as Chiefs slump to another defeat

To their credit, the Chiefs were able to hold the Titans to a field goal in the second half. The trouble was that the only offense that they could manage during that span was a single field goal of their own. That brings us to the most disturbing part of the team’s sudden unravelling. Kansas City were expected to take their lumps on defense, because they can make up for it with their otherwordly offense. That hasn’t been the case so far and the main culprit is unexpected: Mahomes.

Mahomes has now lost 11 turnovers on the year, already more than he gave away in the entirety of the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Football is the ultimate team sport, so Mahomes’ struggles are also partly the fault of a theoretically rebuilt offensive line that failed to keep him upright, allowing four sacks on the day (some of his interceptions have been down to his receivers too). Most troubling, Mahomes’ game ended on a brutal hit that put him in the concussion protocols (which he subsequently cleared).

“We have to eliminate the turnovers and penalties,” head coach Andy Reid said after the game. “These are things that haven’t been common to us. I’m seeing things I haven’t seen before.”

When a coach as well-traveled as Reid is worried, something is going terribly wrong. No play better summed up Kansas City’s woeful outing than the one that found them on the opposite end of a touchdown thrown by … Titans running back Derrick Henry. It was shocking, humiliating and the product of a defense thoroughly unprepared for what its opponent was going to do.

Assuming he is fit after that late hit, Mahomes will be better than he was on Sunday. But if the rest of the team isn’t on the same page it may not matter.

MVP of the week

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals. An easy choice this week: Chase had eight catches for 201 yards, including an astounding 82-yard catch and run for a touchdown. It was all part of a dominant 41-17 victory over a dangerous Baltimore Ravens team. The teams now sit top of their division with 5-2 records. Not only is Chase the clear favorite for offensive rookie of the year – he has more receiving yards through seven games (754) than any first-year player in history – he has an outside shot at MVP.

Video of the week

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts’s one-handed touchdown grab against the Miami Dolphins was a highlight of his team’s 30-28 win. With the victory, the Falcons clawed their way back to .500, while the Dolphins’ unexpected nightmare season continues.

Stat of the week

54. That’s how many points the New York Jets conceded to the New England Patriots on Sunday. The last time New York allowed that many points to an opponent in any game was in 1995. There was more bad news for the Jets: they lost starting quarterback Zach Wilson to a knee injury during the game and he later underwent an MRI.

It ended up being a desperately needed win for the Patriots, who had yet to win a home game this season despite Mac Jones’s moderately impressive start. Miami and New York have won one game each this season.

Quote of the week

“What … what, what, what are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?” – Baltimore Ravens’ radio analyst Obafemi Ayanbadejo.

Chase’s 82-yard touchdown wasn’t the only memorable moment from the Bengals’ blowout victory. On the Baltimore side of things, their broadcasters had to deal with a fan attempting to climb into the booth.

Related: The Miami Dolphins look doomed to languish in NFL’s lower middle-class

According to Ayanbadejo’s partner Gerry Sandusky (that’s “Gerry” with a “G,” and no there is no relation to the most infamous Sandusky), the fan claimed to be a military veteran and was looking for a drink. There have been no additional reports about whether she was eventually successful in her quest.

Elsewhere around the league

Tom Brady threw his 600th touchdown on Sunday
Tom Brady threw his 600th career touchdown on Sunday. Photograph: Mark LoMoglio/AP

-- So much for all that talk earlier in the season about the Carolina Panthers unleashing Sam Darnold’s true potential. Over the last few games, he has reverted back into a pumpkin, as shown by his benching in Sunday’s 25-3 loss to the New York Giants. The Panthers claim that he will remain their starter but the loss put them under the .500 mark for the season at 3-4.

-- Possibly immortal quarterback Tom Brady threw his 600th touchdown on Sunday, something which has been done by … well, nobody else. It’s hard to think that anybody on the field paid much attention to the stat as they were more likely focused on the game, in as much as there actually was one. In a day filled with plenty of one-sided outcomes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers demolished the Chicago Bears 38-3.

-- Not all Sunday Night Football matchups are created equal. Last night’s game was between the 2-4 Indianapolis Colts and the 2-3 San Francisco 49ers. It was an ugly game playing through miserable weather and many Niners fans headed home after the first half. For the best, it turns out, as the Colts won 30-18, their third win in four games, in what may be the start of the Trey Lance Era for the 49ers.

-- Perfect Season Watch. It’s likely that only superfans and the luckiest of gamblers had the Arizona Cardinals as the last team standing in this particular pool when the season began, but so it goes. Granted, the now 7-0 Cardinals had some help from the schedule, which offered them up the hapless Houston Texans, who now have an AFC East-esque 1-6 record after their 31-5 loss. Yes, you’re reading that final score correctly, Houston’s points came from safety and a field goal. Arizona’s next opponents will be much, much tougher: the 6-1 Green Bay Packers, who easily handled the Washington Football Team in a 24-10 victory.

-- The Detroit Lions successfully unsuccessful season continues! Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw three touchdowns against his old team in a 28-19 victory. The Rams improved to 6-1, while the Lions are now 0-7 and solidly on pace for that all-important first overall draft pick.

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