If Patrick Mahomes wasn’t already turning heads while leading the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense through a 5-0 start, he gained even more attention going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady on Sunday Night Football.
The Chiefs’ first-year starting quarterback threw for a career-high 356 yards and four touchdowns to rally Kansas City (5-1) in Foxborough, Mass., before the Patriots pulled ahead with a last-second field goal for a 43-40 victory.
Now, he is the next big challenge for the Cincinnati Bengals, who give the Chiefs another Sunday Night Football game this week at Arrowhead Stadium.
Former Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez, now an NFL analyst for FOX, said this week that Mahomes “will be the best guy in the league in five or six years,” and Stephen A. Smith called him the frontrunner for league MVP. The second-year player out of Texas Tech has 1,865 yards passing and 18 touchdowns with four interceptions this season after appearing in just one game as a rookie in 2017.
Mahomes is just one piece to the Chiefs’ success so far in 2018, though, as Kansas City brings the No. 2-ranked scoring offense in the league with 35.8 points per game. The Chiefs are fifth in net offense with 418.5 yards per game.
»REPORT CARD: Grading Sunday’s loss to the Steelers
Second-year running back Kareem Hunt ranks fourth in the league with 456 yards rushing and four touchdowns, and third-year wide receiver Tyreek Hill is fourth in receiving with 567 yards and six touchdowns. Former University of Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce follows with 468 yards and three touchdowns on 33 catches.
The offensive line leads the NFL in fewest sacks allowed with six, though the Chiefs have given up 38 quarterback hits.
Kansas City’s defense remains a work in progress with several new faces in the lineup in recent weeks. The Chiefs among the bottom five in the league for points (28.7) and yards (468.2) allowed, but they are among the best in turnover differential at plus-four. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens has a team-high 60 tackles, six players have one interception and Kansas City has recovered three fumbles.
The Chiefs were without safeties Eric Berry and Eric Murray and linebackers Justin Houston and Tanoh Kpassagnon last week because of injuries. Former Bengals defensive back Josh Shaw, who signed with Kansas City on Oct. 2, played 28 percent of the defensive snaps at cornerback Sunday against the Patriots in his first game this season.
Kansas City has played four of its first six games on the road this season and now sets to play three of four at home.
Bengals-Chiefs connections: Bengals DE Jordan Willis is from Kansas City and played at Kansas State University. … Chiefs DB Josh Shaw entered the NFL in 2015 as a fourth-round draft selection of the Bengals and was with the team through ’18 preseason. … Chiefs RB Spencer Ware attended Princeton High School in Cincinnati. … Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy played for the Bengals from 1995-98. … Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes played for the Chiefs from 1985-93. … Chiefs running backs coach Deland McCullough played for the Bengals from 1996-97. McCullough also played (1991-95) and coached (2010) at Miami (Ohio) University. … Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at the University of Cincinnati. … Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons is from Elkhart, Kan., and played (1993-95) and coached (1996) at the University of Kansas. … Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt played at the University of Toledo. … Bengals CB KeiVarae Russell (practice squad) entered the NFL in 2016 as a third-round draft selection of the Chiefs. … Bengals CB Davonte Harris (Reserve/Injured) is from Wichita, Kan. … Chiefs T Ryan Hunter (practice squad) played at Bowling Green State University. … Bengals wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell coached for the Chiefs from 2007-2009.
AFC NORTH OUTLOOK
Baltimore Ravens (4-2-0): The Ravens shut out Tennessee, 21-0, on the road Sunday and thanks to Cincinnati’s loss in Week 6, they are back at the top of the division with the Bengals, who have the head-to-head advantage. They host New Orleans this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1): The Steelers scored the game-winning touchdown with 10 seconds left to beat the Bengals 28-21 on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. They have won two in a row heading into a bye week. Cleveland is up next in Week 8.
Cleveland Browns (2-3-1): The Browns look to bounce back from a 38-14 loss to the Chargers when they travel to play Tampa Bay on Sunday.
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