What the NFL's prime-time slate on Sunday and Monday lacked in drama, it made up for in intrigue. First, the Cowboys stamped their status as an early-season surprise by bombing the underachieving Saints. Then in the Week 4 finale, the Chiefs took a huge step toward getting back in the AFC West race by dismantling a sluggish Patriots team, 41-14.
New England and Kansas City now sit at 2-2 on the year. The two sides felt worlds apart Monday night. Three thoughts on the Chiefs' impressive victory:
1. Advantage, Andy Reid
An absolute clinic from the Chiefs and their head coach, against Bill Belichick no less.
Though Kansas City did not score on its first possession of the game, it absolutely set the tone for the evening. That drive, which stalled out on New England's 46, featured four Jamaal Charles runs, an 11-yard completion to Dwayne Bowe up against Darrelle Revis and a first-down catch by Travis Kelce.
Andy Reid went back to the well with all of those weapons throughout the night. Charles finished with three touchdowns (one rushing, two receiving) in his first game back from an ankle injury, while Bowe and Kelce combined for 13 catches, 174 yards and a TD.
"We tried to spread it around as much as we could," Reid said. "I think against that defense, that's important, that you try to get as many different receivers into the mix and we were able to do that."
Kansas City hung 303 yards on the Patriots in the first half, the highest total ever allowed by a Belichick-coached New England team.
Kudos to the offensive line for a lot of that action, too. It looked on the opening couple snaps like left tackle Eric Fisher might be in for a rough night against Patriots DE Chandler Jones, who stuffed Charles on the game's first play, then sacked Smith later in the same drive. Fisher regrouped in short order, though, and Kansas City began winning almost all of the battles up front.
All told, the Chiefs rushed for 207 yards with Charles and Knile Davis gashing what had been a vaunted Patriots defense entering the season.
2. What a nightmare for Tom Brady
New England's offensive line remains a massive issue. Brady's left tackle, Nate Solder, has been a wreck for most of the season. He was replaced by Marcus Cannon after allowing a Tamba Hali strip-sack deep in New England territory. The Chiefs' two sacks hardly tell the story of how much their front disrupted the Patriots' offense.
But when Brady did have time to throw, he was awful, perhaps frazzled by the constant pass rush. His two interceptions (one to Sean Smith, another a pick-six by Hussain Abdullah) were thrown into heavy coverage. The Abdullah INT, in particular, was a misread more befitting an overmatched rookie than one of the all-time greats at QB.
After Brady was pulled from the game, ESPN play-by-play man Mike Tirico revealed that the Patriots' star seemed annoyed even in pregame meetings.
"This is as frustrated as I've ever seen Tom Brady, watching him since 2000," Tirico said.
At 2-2 and tied atop the AFC East, the Patriots obviously have plenty of time to right the ship. But there is a ton of work to do.
3. How in the world did Kansas City get whupped by Tennessee?
The early-season NFL schedule always produces a few borderline inexplicable results. Looking back on it when all is said and done, the Titans' 26-10 romp of the Chiefs in Kansas City may stand alone.
Between that Week 1 meltdown and a cavalcade of injuries that stole the likes of Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry and Charles from their lineup, the Chiefs appeared for all the world to be headed toward a severe regression after a surprise 2013 playoff run.
How quickly things can change.
"That was my responsibility as the head football coach, that first game, I was calling plays and I didn't do a very good job," Reid said, adding that since then "these guys have all gathered around and done a heck of a job."
Whether Kansas City truly has turned a corner or this two-game win streak is merely a blip could be answered over the next three weeks. The Chiefs travel to San Francisco on Sunday, sit Week 6 on a bye, then visit San Diego in Week 7. Because they already have two losses in the bank, anything less than a 1-1 mark there would make it tough to crawl back into either the AFC West or the wild-card race.
The Kansas City team we all saw Monday night, however, has the aura of a dangerous contender.