The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC West at 9-5 while their Week 16 opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders, check in third in the division at 6-8.
This season hasn’t looked like those in recent memory for the Chiefs’ usually explosive offense, even though key components Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce remain on the field and Head Coach Andy Reid is roaming the sidelines.
However, Raiders cornerback Jack Jones only views one of those on-field “threats” as such. Jones offered some damning perspective on the Chiefs’ wide receivers and tight ends. “We’re not worried about them,” Jones said via the team on December 21.
“It’s Patrick Mahomes, we got to stop the magician. You stop the magician then the act is over.” Kansas City leads the NFL in drops with 37, four more than the next team, the Cleveland Browns.
And many of theirs have come in critical moments or led directly to interceptions this season. Be it due to a lack of confidence in his pass catchers or something else, Mahomes has not has his best stuff this season either.
Deflected and picked off by the @Patriots defense
— NFL (@NFL) December 17, 2023
He is tracking to finish the season with career lows in touchdown rate as a starter, passing yards per attempt and per game, and his second-lowest Total Quarterback Rating (as a starter). Jones, who began the season with the New England Patriots, allowed all three of the passes thrown his way to be completed for 42 total yards.
He also logged five tackles in the Week 12 31-17 loss to the Chiefs. Mahomes threw for 298 yards and two scores in that game, with rookie Rashee Rice going for 107 yards on eight receptions.
Rice hauled in both of his targets for 19 yards when matched up against Jones, per Pro Football Focus. This also speaks volumes about top option Travis Kelce who was honest earlier in the season about not playing his best.
But he had at least four catches and 80 yards in three straight games before a 28-yard “dud” last week. Mahomes could be relying on seldom-utilized Richie James this weekend, a daunting proposition given how this season has unfolded.