By Norm Elrod
(CBS Miami) — The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t quite look like themselves last Sunday night. They won, beating the Denver Broncos 22-16 to move to 11-1. But they didn’t look like themselves. Rather than put up touchdown after touchdown, they stalled out in the red zone and settled for field goals on multiple occasions. Patrick Mahomes and company will have a tougher challenge in Week 14 in Miami against a strong Dolphins secondary and young team gaining confidence under rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins also didn’t play up to potential in their 19-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. They came out sloppy against one of the NFL’s worst teams and trailed at halftime, only to pull ahead in the third quarter. Miami found the end zone just once against Cincinnati, settling for four field goals. The win improves their record to 8-4 and helps them keep pace with the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East race. But another slow start in Week 14 could quickly become insurmountable against a prolific team like the Chiefs, and probably won’t end in a win.
“The tough thing this week is going up against a Chiefs team where there is no room for error,” says NFL On CBS reporter Jay Feely. “You can’t throw for 150 yards and beat the Kansas City Chiefs. You have to move the ball, you have to score points. When you’re in the red zone, you have to score touchdowns. I would think, going in, that they’re going to have this mentality of we’re going to go for it on fourth down, we’re not going to set up for field goals.”
Tua threw for almost 300 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals. Myles Gaskin looked good in his return, piling up 21 carries for 90 yards. And Mike Gesicki hauled in nine catches for 88 yards and the Fins’ lone touchdown. Miami’s backfield situation remains tenuous. Gaskin is now working through a knee issue, which limited him in practice earlier in the week. At the same time, running backs Salvon Ahmed, DeAndre Washington and Matt Breida are all dealing with their own injuries or ailments.
“For Tua, it’s a game where he’s going to have to put it on his shoulders,” says Feely. “He’s going to have to perform. I would think he relishes that going up against a guy like Patrick Mahomes and his first chance to test himself against the best in the NFL.”
The Dolphins mid-tier defense was stout against a Bengals offense playing without Joe Burrow, who suffered a torn ACL and MCL a couple weeks ago and is done for the season. Brandon Allen was held to 153 yards on 11-19 passing, with one TD and one interception. Ryan Finley added another 40 yards on 6-7 passing, after Allen exited in the fourth quarter with a chest injury. Giovani Bernard was held to just 30 yards on 12 carries.
The Dolphins “…did a great job in the offseason of bringing in talent, bringing in guys like Van Noy and understanding the scheme they want to do defensively,” says Feely. “Then they come out this year, and Brian Flores has done a great job with this team. They continue to get better throughout the season.”
It’s reasonable to expect the Dolphins to contain the Bengals offense, especially behind a second and third-string quarterback. They’re among the NFL’s worst. The Chiefs offense, led by Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, is a whole different beast. The 22 points they put up against the Broncos was an aberration. The Chiefs average 30.8 points per game, second best in the NFL. They lead the league in passing, by a lot, averaging 314.4 yards per game. And Mahomes went 25-40 for 318 yards last week. So their issue in Week 13 was less about moving the ball and more about converting on scoring opportunities. Expect coach Andy Reid to work that out.
The passing game still looked unstoppable, even if they couldn’t put it in the end zone. Travis Kelce had eight receptions for 136 yards and caught the touchdown that gave them the lead for good in the second half. Tyreek Hill caught six more for 58 yards. Hill’s stat line would have been better if not for a 40-yard touchdown catch that was called incomplete, but may have actually been a catch. Another long TD catch was negated by a holding penalty.
Teams have had some success against the Chiefs defense, particularly on the ground. They’re giving up 132.4 yards per game, which puts them near the bottom of the league. The Broncos’ Melvin Gordon piled up 131 yards on 16 carries, though, to be fair, half of that came on one play. A banged-up Phillip Lindsay added 26 more yards on his 14 carries. Drew Lock was held to just 151 yards on 15-28 passing. The Chiefs yielded two TD passes to Lock, but also picked him off twice, including a last-minute interception to preserve the win.
The Dolphins will look to overcome an underrated Chiefs defense this week, while slowing the NFL’s top passing offense. Will the Chiefs bounce back from an uncharacteristic performance? Can Brian Flores build on what’s already been a successful season for Miami?
The Chiefs play the Dolphins Sunday, December 13 @ 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS.