For the third week in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs' defense has put forth a quality performance. Over that span, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's unit has allowed fewer than 20 points in each contest. After a 41-14 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders that catapulted the Chiefs to 6-4 on the year, things only seem to be getting better.
Under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, the Chiefs gave up just 299 total yards of offense to Las Vegas — surrendering a 5.9 yards per play average. They also held their division rivals to converting on just one of their nine tries on third down, which is a fantastic clip. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was under duress for much of the night, and safety Tyrann Mathieu knows that things coming together was a byproduct of patience. Considering where the Chiefs' defense was at the beginning of the season, it's easy to see the improvement.
"I'm not necessarily looking back," Mathieu said. "Being to the last two Super Bowls, they don't crown champions in October or November. We knew it was going to take some time. The last couple of years, it's taken us quite some time to kind of start clicking, but we believe in it. I think at the end of the day, that's all that matters."
There was legitimate reason to be skeptical of the Chiefs' defense heading into the Raiders game. Holding the Daniel Jones-led Giants to 17 points and the Jordan Love-led Packers to just one score wasn't going to convince many that the group was truly making a leap. The Raiders boast one of the league's more impressive offensive attacks, though, which makes what the Chiefs were able to accomplish even more impressive. Mathieu believes there's room to grow for himself and his teammates over time.
"I think we're going to continue to get better," Mathieu said. "Just like the last couple of seasons, I see us being one of the better defenses when it matters the most late in the season."
So much of the NFL is about remaining healthy and peaking at the right time. If teams peak too early, they have to sustain an elite level of play for a longer period of time. That's difficult to do, and so is digging yourself out of a deep hole. The Chiefs were bordering on having to do the latter but because the rest of the division and conference have been unpredictable this year, they're now the lone AFC West team with six wins and hold the AFC's No 4 playoff seed as of now.
The Chiefs' defense appears to be finding its stride just in time for the home stretch of the season. With a crucial non-conference matchup with the Dallas Cowboys approaching, they'll need all the help they can get in order to stop the likes of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Mathieu isn't worried, though, and it's hard to argue that serious progress isn't being made.