Five things that stood out about the Kansas City Chiefs’ win against the Packers

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This Chiefs’ season seemed to be at an unexpected crossroads at seven weeks of age, and even if they didn’t use that exact language, the players and coaches seemed to acknowledge as much.

Patrick Mahomes said he felt compelled to take a “big-picture” look at himself, a different sort of evaluation than a normal week.

Well, the Chiefs have responded to it with back-to-back home wins inside Arrowhead Stadium, the latest a 13-7 victory Sunday against the Packers.

But the wins didn’t arrive in the traditional manner. They won’t provide the get-right feeling you’d probably prefer.

The Chiefs’ defense carried the load Sunday, and any questions about the offense will carry into next week in Las Vegas.

Let’s get to the five observations immediately following the game:

1. Is the defense solved?

Yes, the Packers played without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the league’s reigning Most Valuable Players award winner, and they looked in complete disarray without him.

But if we acknowledge the obvious — that the Packers are a much different team with Rodgers — can we then give the Chiefs defense some credit?

They made nothing easy for backup Jordan Love — from putting consistent pressure in his face to the coverage on the back end. L’Jarius Sneed had a heck of an interception and a pass deflection that was nearly as good, two key second-half plays.

The Chiefs forced four punts, and they made the Packers settle for a (missed) field goal after they started a drive 37 yards from the end zone.

This comes one week after the Chiefs held the Giants to 300 yards.

Suddenly, even if you account for the opponents, the Chiefs defense is starting to find a little bit of a groove.

On the other hand ...

2. The 2021 Chiefs’ offense

It would be harsh to classify the Chiefs offense as broken, but it certainly isn’t fixed.

They’re unable to hit the big play, unable to find the small play on enough consecutive snaps, and when they fall out of rhythm, it seems just about impossible to rediscover it.

At one point Sunday, they punted on four straight drives in the second half — when getting any points, even a field goal, felt as though it would put the game out of reach.

Mahomes averaged only 4.49 yards per pass attempt, the lowest of his career.

While we could overload this section with more statistics, perhaps it’s best to offer this 18-second nutshell of their struggles, with a sequence midway through the second quarter.

First down at their own 44-yard line: Mahomes bypassed an uncovered Travis Kelce over the middle of the field and instead opted to throw to Mecole Hardman 50 yards downfield. Hardman was blanketed, and the pass was overthrown anyway.

Second down: Mahomes nailed Kelce in the hands on a dart over the middle. Kelce dropped it.

Third down: Mahomes looked outside the numbers to Tyreek Hill at the sticks, but Hill slipped on the route.

Fourth down: Punt.

3. So, maybe the turnovers aren’t the problem?

The Chiefs have already turned the ball over more than any team during Andy Reid’s tenure in Kansas City.

It’s undoubtedly debilitating.

But it’s not the only problem. The Chiefs escaped Sunday without a turnover for the first time since the opener, and yet they spanned 10 drives without reaching the end zone.

Heck, they only moved the ball into the red zone once in those 10 possessions, and really it was moved there for them. The Packers muffed a punt, giving the Chiefs the ball at the 10.

The Chiefs actually scored on the opening drive for the first time in five games at Arrowhead Stadium this season — a 1-yard score from Mahomes to Kelce — but it was tough sledding afterward.

In the first month of the season, turnovers appeared the Chiefs’ only kryptonite — they were still averaging more points per drive than the peak of their 2018-20 years. But those days are gone. The Chiefs are struggling to get receivers open, and Mahomes on more than one occasion Sunday didn’t see ones who were.

4. The pass rush

As is often the script against inexperienced starting quarterbacks, the Chiefs greeted Love with a heavy dose of blitzes. Some worked, too — safety Tyrann Mathieu had a third-down sack.

But the consistent pressure in the backfield stretched beyond that, and it’s a good sign for a team that ranks 30th in the NFL in sacks. Six days after his best outing of an injury-plagued year, Frank Clark looked healthy once more.

On back-to-back plays in the first quarter, he ducked under a block and stepped into the backfield for a tackle for loss. One snap later, he timed the snap and showed burst around the edge, forcing Love to basically throw away a screen pass called for that direction.

Speaking of which ...

5. Melvin Ingram makes an immediate impact

One game is a wee bit early to make any conclusions on midseason trades, but it certainly would appear 32-year-old Melvin Ingram has some burst left.

Five days after acquiring Ingram in a trade with the Steelers, the Chiefs plugged him into the lineup on passing downs, and he responded immediately.

On his first snap, a third down for the Packers, Ingram hit Love’s arm and affected his throw. He bullied his way into the backfield often. A tandem of Clark and Ingram on the edge — with Chris Jones back in the middle — would offer the Chiefs a solution to an early-season weakness.