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Travis Kelce has never (ever) been this productive

Somehow, however, the end zone remains an elusive target for the Chiefs tight end.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Kelce has always been a specimen. At 6'5, 255 lbs, he's a sizable target with soft hands and incredible athleticism. And if this sounds like a promo for some dating show, well, he's even gone that route.

Ever since the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Kelce in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the team has enjoyed one of the NFL's most exciting young playmakers at the position. For a franchise used to Tony Gonzalez for 12 seasons, the arrival of another rising star at the position was a breath of fresh air. The same could be said by the Chiefs quarterbacks, who clearly enjoyed having Kelce as an option in the passing game.

However, it wasn't until this year — in fact, until right now — that you could remove the term "rising" from that last descriptor. True stardom has always eluded Kelce. The potential was there. The hype was all around. Many articles about his promise had been written, but the reality was that the statistics never quite told the same story.

Kelce never had his first 100 yard game until his 14th game as a pro athlete. It was the only 100 yard receiving game of his rookie season (remember that Kelce was injured for the entire season during his rookie campaign). Kelce's next 100 yard game came in Week 1 of 2015, a win over Houston that signalled that the Chiefs might use Kelce as a serious passing game centerpiece. Instead, it was Kelce's only 100 yard game of the entire regular season. Two years, two 100-yard games. His seasonal averages of 850ish yards and 5 touchdowns sounded more complementary than offensive star.

Enter this season. Kelce's 140 yards against the Atlanta Falcons were the highest of his career. It was also his third straight 100-yard effort. This year, Kelce has four such games and is now just 60 yards short of his previous career high with four games to play. At 815 receiving yards, Kelce has real hopes to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the first time — a silly but not trivial stat used to delineate between the league's top performers.

The rhythm between Alex Smith and Travis Kelce has clearly reached another level — whether that has to be with trust, knowing the offense, or Kelce's newly settled love life is impossible to tell. What is possible to read is the stat sheet that tells us we're witnessing the emergence of a front line talent before our eyes.

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