5 takeaways from Chiefs' slow-paced win over Broncos on Thursday Night Football

Patrick Mahomes and his wide receivers remained disconnected on offense but Kansas City's defense was dialed in from the opening whistle. Oh, and Taylor Swift showed up at Arrowhead Stadium.

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Nobody gave the Denver Broncos much of a chance to snap their 15-game losing skid against the AFC West-rival Chiefs entering Thursday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium -- and those expectations were largely met in a slow-paced, low-scoring affair that saw a Taylor Swift appearance and a lot of field goals from Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker.

The Chiefs intercepted Denver quarterback Russell Wilson twice in the contest, an ugly performance for one the NFL's much-maligned quarterbacks.

The loss drops the Broncos to 1-5 on the season and, yes, continues a trend of losing against Patrick Mahomes and Co. Speaking of Mahomes, the league's reigning MVP is now 5-1 through six weeks in 2023 despite having limited chemistry with his pass catchers not named Travis Kelce (more on him in a second).

While the NFL power rankings will undoubtedly be kind to Kansas City next week, the question has to be floated -- does Denver deserve to be ranked dead last at this point in this season?

Let's try and answer that question while taking a look at some of the big takeaways from this primetime matchup:

Can't cover Kelce

Wilson logged just 37 passing yards at halftime. Kelce recorded 109 receiving yards in the same frame. Look at any statistic from this game as you'd like, but the story lied there. The 34-year-old star tight end finished the game with nine catches for 162 yards -- including a 40-yarder -- to post his best statistical outing this season.

Second-round rookie Rashee Rice stepped up as the second option with four catches for 72 yards, but it's no secret the Chiefs can be handled by a better team if they don't supply Mahomes with more quality targets. Skyy Moore had just two catches for 22 yards while Kadarius Toney had three for nine and a touchdown in the red zone.

Will Denver accelerate its fire sale?

Defensive end Randy Gregory was the first when the San Francisco 49ers called in Week 5. With the trade deadline approaching on Oct. 31, will Denver field more calls until then? The Broncos are likely stuck with Wilson for a little longer, but names like Frank Clark and Jerry Jeudy have floated around in rumors.

Courtland Sutton and Justin Simmons could also be on the move if contenders come with enticing offers to Denver's front office. If the Broncos looked like a coherent team just missing a few pieces then these scenarios likely wouldn't be talking points, but it's clear Sean Payton and Co. have more retooling to do.

Russell Wilson doesn't eclipse 100 passing yards

Wilson had just 57 passing yards before hitting Courtland Sutton for a 21-yard gain in the fourth quarter. He never surpassed 100. Instead, the 34-year-old mustered just 95 while completing 13 of 22 passes for a touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked four times.

He hasn't been the sole problem this season. His offensive line has rarely helped and his receiving core has underwhelmed, most notably Jeudy. The former first-round pick logged just three catches for 14 yards, while Sutton fared better with four catches for 46 yards and a difficult touchdown grab.

Second-year tight end Greg Dulcich also reaggravated a hamstring injury and was ruled out early on, adding salt to an already-wide wound.

AFC could still run through Arrowhead

The Chiefs may not have many lethal weapons beyond Kelce -- at least for the time being -- but they've still been collecting wins since the Week 1 loss at home to Detroit. Now, the schedule gets much tougher from this point on with the likes of Philadelphia, Buffalo and Cincinnati on deck, but there's a possibility Kansas City will do just enough to ensure home-field advantage.

As of now, the Bills and Miami Dolphins may stand the best chance at rivaling that, but the Chiefs keep finding ways to get things done despite their weaknesses.

Thursday Night Football may be more promising in Week 7

After Week 2, there haven't been any mesmerizing battles on Thursday Night Football. These are the results since then:

  • Week 3: San Francisco 49ers 30, New York Giants 12
  • Week 4: Detroit Lions 34, Green Bay Packers 20
  • Week 5: Chicago Bears 42, Washington Commanders 20
  • Week 6: ...

Will Week 7 be better? The Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints are the matchup, and both are 3-2 going into Week 6. They may just be wild card teams at best, but at least there's a chance at an even contest brewing.

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