Everyone in the NFL world watched the Kansas City Chiefs lose their first game of the 2023 season at home against the Detroit Lions. Not to overreact to just one game (a one-point loss to a good team, at that), but the Chiefs looked vulnerable in this game without two of their biggest stars: Travis Kelce and Chris Jones. Do the Denver Broncos have a shot in the AFC West?
There's definitely a weakness in the armor of the defending Super Bowl champions. Look, the Chiefs are what they are. They are a dynasty. They are the modern New England Patriots. But there were a few aspects of this game against the Detroit Lions that may give other teams in the AFC West some hope that they can compete for the division this year, as the Chiefs will play a tough schedule and everyone will have them circled on their schedule to begin with.
First and foremost, the Chiefs' wide receivers really struggled in this game. Kadarius Toney, in particular, was remarkably bad. He had five targets but just one catch for one yard. He will have better games, but his hands are a problem and he didn't do any favors for himself in terms of building trust with Mahomes. Not only that, but Toney's only carry went for negative yardage. If Kelce has to miss any additional. time this season, who emerges as Kansas City's go-to?
Patrick Mahomes was still making plays and throws in this game. He wasn't the reason Kansas City lost to Detroit, by any means, but he's certainly proven he can't consistently do it all by himself. He was Kansas City's leading rusher in this game and their top runners were Isiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire who combined to average 3.3 yards per carry on 14 total carries in the game.
Defensively, Kansas City played pretty well overall but were undoubtedly worn down over the course of the game. Detroit has one of the best offensive lines and one of the best offensive schemes in football, but their offensive line closed out the game like a dominant relief pitcher in baseball. That level of physicality proved that the aggressiveness of the Chiefs' defense under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can be offset late in games with a physical running game.
The Chiefs spent a lot of money on Jawaan Taylor at the right tackle position this offseason, and Taylor was made an example of throughout the game not only by Aidan Hutchinson, but many fans on Twitter as well. Taylor was consistently lined up what appeared to be illegally, and he was getting into his stance a fraction of a second before the snap to gain an advantage. Somehow, the officiating didn't catch any of the infractions until late in the game.
Either way, it was a rough night for both Jawaan Taylor and left tackle Donovan Smith, who was called for holding and really picked up right where he left off in Tampa Bay.
The Chiefs began their latest title defense with a loss at home, and their next matchup will be in the brutal Florida heat against Jacksonville, another team that should be much better in 2023 than they were even last year when they won the AFC South.