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Giants Not Buying Narrative of "Struggling" Kansas City Chiefs Team

The Kansas City Chiefs have uncharacteristically struggled so far this season, but the Giants still hold a healthy respect for the defending AFC West champions.

Giants head coach Joe Judge wasted little time responding to a question about whether the rest of the league has finally caught up to the 3-4, defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs.

“I mean, how’d the league catch up to them?” Judge said before quipping. “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.”

Judge certainly isn’t one to put an opponent down, at least not publicly, so the only thing that was surprising about his response was the creativity in his choice of words.

But the question does hold some validity considering the Chiefs offense has looked slightly “off” this season despite having upgraded the offensive line after it was exposed in Super Bowl LV against a Bucs defense to the tune of three sacks and nine hits in that game.

Then there has been the play of Mahomes, one of the least blitzed quarterbacks this year, according to NextGenStats, and a quarterback who is facing a career-low 22.3 percent pressure rate on his dropbacks.

Mahomes has thrown nine interceptions through seven games, tying him for most in the league with Zach Wilson of the Jets and three shy of his career-high 12 set in 2018, his first full season as a starter.

But to be fair to Mahomes, who has one turnover in six consecutive games and multiple turnovers in each of his last three games, some of those interceptions thrown have been a result of passes bouncing off his receivers’ hands.

There has also been the narrative that Mahomes hasn't been as patient in the pocket in terms of taking what the defense is giving him and that he's been trying to force more plays that just aren't there to be made.

There’s some validity to that, the result of Mahomes, sometimes having to face the unfamiliar role of playing from behind, trying to force things that aren’t there, something the quarterback himself recently acknowledged.

“I think as an offense, especially for me just to stop hurting myself,” he told reporters last week. “Just stay within the reads, stay true to the reads and when it broke down, got out of the pocket and tried to make plays happen. Pretty much just staying true to who I am and not try to do too much and kind of relied on the other guys to make plays and they did.”

An even closer look at the production shows that the Mahomes-led offense is still very much a force with which to be reckoned. The offense ranks third in total yards, fourth in passing yards, fourteenth in rushing yards, and eighth in scoring (26.9 points a game).

And for Mahomes specifically, he has 18 touchdown passes, third-most in the NFL behind Tom Brady of the Bucs and Matthew Stafford of the Rams.

That’s why Judge doesn’t want to hear that Mahomes isn’t performing up to Superman status this year.

"He looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the world to me," he said. "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.”

That explains the Chiefs offense, but the defense has been a completely different story. Run by one-time Giants defensive coordinator and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, the Chiefs defense 28th in the league in yards allowed, 26th in passing yards allowed, 27th in rushing yards allowed, and 28th in points given up (29 per game).

Through seven games so far, the Chiefs defense has allowed opponents an average of 6.6 yards per play, the worst number for a Chiefs defense since Mahomes was elevated to the team’s starting quarterback role.

According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs are No. 25 in adjusted line yards (4.66) and No. 31 (0.47) in open field average yards, the metric suggesting that the defensive front seven is having trouble making stops at the first and second levels.

But as far as the Giants are concerned, this is still a Super bowl worthy opponent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

“They’re a good defense,” said Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. “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.”

Judge concurred.

“Nobody in this building is going to in any way, shape or form underestimate this team. Period,” he 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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