The Kansas City Chiefs’ most valuable player on Sunday was… Harrison Butker.
The veteran kicker was 6-for-6 on field goals, helping the Chiefs eke out a 25-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He scored the final 18 points of the game as Kansas City overcame a 17-7 deficit and outscored Cincy 12-0 in the second half.
Winning the game was the desired result, obviously, clinching the Chiefs the AFC West title and at least one playoff game at home. But the same issues that have plagued the Chiefs all season reared their ugly heads once again.
Wide receivers continued to drop passes at alarming rates. The offensive line struggled at times to keep the pocket clean. The team made some truly baffling decisions throughout the game, including Richie James fielding a punt in his own end zone at one point.
The Chiefs are heading to the postseason. But the team’s offensive deficiencies has fans and pundits alike questioning just how effective they’ll be once they get there:
Patrick Mahomes wasn’t bad by any stretch on Sunday, finishing 21-of-29 for 245 yards and a touchdown while losing one fumble and taking two sacks. He hasn’t been the cause of the team’s lackluster offensive performances this season, but he also wasn’t the main reason the Chiefs beat the Bengals.
That came down to a defense that shut out the Bengals in the second half, registering six sacks in total, and the clutch performance of Butker. And that’s a concern, given that it has been Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense that fueled its two titles and three Super Bowl trips in the previous four seasons.
This year’s team isn’t going to win another title behind its offense. Outside of Mahomes, Travis Kelce and to a lesser extent a solid group of running backs, this is a team devoid of playmakers on that side of the ball.
Scoring just one offensive touchdown might get it done at home against a Bengals’ team fielding its backup quarterback. Against the top teams in the AFC, on the road, it won’t.
And so despite another AFC West crown, the feeling around this Chiefs’ team remains one of skepticism. The defense is excellent, but the offense doesn’t appear championship-worthy.