Despite gaining 371 total yards of offense and having a great deal of success early in their game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Kansas City Chiefs scored just 19 points. On the other hand, they still managed to win by two scores and extended their winning streak to four games heading into their bye week. That duality has summed up the team's season thus far.
At times, the Chiefs have looked dominant on both sides of the football. Unfortunately for them, those instances haven't occurred at the same time. Earlier in the year, Patrick Mahomes and company looked unstoppable. Now, they're inconsistent. Steve Spagnuolo's defense has done a complete 180 since the beginning of the year, going from historically poor to one of the better-performing groups in the league. There haven't been many games this season in which the Chiefs have an elite performance from both sides of the football. That's the scariest part, though, and Mahomes knows there's room to improve.
"I'm excited about it because we're still not playing our best football and we're sitting here at 7-4, at least a half-game up on the AFC West," Mahomes said. "You go into the bye week knowing you're going to play a lot of divisional opponents coming up. Everything is right in front of us. We can be better, especially offensively, the defense can continue to get better and better each and every week. To be where we started to where we're at now — and still not playing our best football — I'll take that every time."
It's been a tumultuous season for Kansas City, and that's also been the case for most of the NFL. The AFC, in particular, has had its fair share of upsets and crazy games in recent weeks. Ugly games are commonplace, and the Chiefs have been able to figure out how to win them. They leaned heavily on their defense against the Cowboys, riding the wave of a strong performance from all levels of the group. According to Mahomes, those wins mean just as much as comfortable ones.
"I think that's been this entire season," Mahomes said. "There's been a lot of ups and downs for everybody. We know that we have to go in with a mindset every single week and we have to be our best. If we're not our best, we have to find a way to continue to get better and try to find a way to get win. I think you've seen that this season. We've had games where we've put up a lot of points and played really good. We've had games that we haven't, and we still found a way to get a win. It's a team game in this sport and it's not the same as it's been these last few years but when you play as a team and you find a way to win these tough, adverse games, that's when you have those special teams. I'm excited for the rest of the season."
As the Chiefs gear up for their bye week and a subsequent home stretch of the 2021 campaign, there's a lot left to be determined. With that said, the team is learning more and more about itself with every passing week. It remains to be seen what the end result will be for this year's version of the Chiefs, but it's undoubtedly a self-aware bunch. That awareness may be what leads to a terrific overall stretch of play parlaying into a serious playoff run.