You may have read this headline and thought that it was an absurd hot take. But hear me out: I'm not saying that, in the long run, Tyreek Hill is as crucial for the Chiefs' success as Patrick Mahomes. He's not. But right now, with Mahomes banged up, it is vitally important for Kansas City's Super Bowl hopes that Tyreek Hill remains on the field.
Tyreek Hill exited Monday Night's game against the Chargers in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return. The Chiefs won the game in no small part because Philip Rivers kept throwing the ball to them, but their normally vaunted offense struggled. As pointed out on Get Up, Patrick Mahomes' 5.7 yards per attempt were the lowest in his 26 career starts.
Hill's complete and utter inability to be overthrown is critically important to the Chiefs' offense at this point. He's averaging 16.5 yards per reception this season. Beyond his production, the attention and anxiety that his presence commands for opposing defenses opens up a lot of space for his teammates.
No one from the Chiefs will ever say this out loud, but Mahomes still looks a little banged up from the knee injury he sustained against the Broncos in Week 7. Without Hill in the lineup last night, Mahomes looked a level of mortal. Maybe it was the bad turf, maybe he doesn't have full confidence in his knee yet, maybe the Chargers were doing things that confused him, and maybe it was just a rare off night. Nonetheless, if you're asking me to guess, the biggest variable was the absence of Hill.