Despite the fact the Chiefs traded out of the first round, they found immediate-impact players in the second (defensive lineman Chris Jones) and fifth (wide receiver/kick returner Tyreek Hill) rounds. Fourth-round guard Parker Ehinger was starting before a knee injury ended his season. All should continue to produce for the Chiefs in 2017 and beyond. The Chiefs also found some developmental prospects who could become solid players, including fourth-round safety Eric Murray.
The Chargers are second in the league in giveaways with 33 — enough said. San Diego has lost a league-high 14 fumbles and been intercepted 19 times, which is the second-most in the league. That said, interception opportunities could be plentiful with quarterback Philip Rivers, who is forcing plenty of balls these days in an effort to carry a banged-up offense.
The first piece of the puzzle falls into place with the noon kickoff for the New England Patriots visiting the Miami Dolphins. If the Patriots win, they claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC and lock the Dolphins into the sixth slot. All that remains is determining the winner of the AFC West between the Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. But if the Dolphins win, the late afternoon matchups between the Chiefs and Chargers along with the Raiders at Denver Broncos take on greater meeting.
While Siemian did not settle the quarterback debate this year, neither did Lynch. The Broncos seem to be unsure if he’s ready. The last time the Broncos had a rookie quarterback start a final meaningless regular season game was in 2010. And in that game, they let Tim Tebow play the full four quarters. As a first-round pick, they knew, for the most part, Tebow would get a chance to start at some point the following season.
2. Chiefs clock management
Down two touchdowns at New England late in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs took a loooooooong time to find the end zone. There didn’t seem to be any urgency, which upset just about everyone.
The Broncos already announced plans for quarterback Trevor Siemian to split time with rookie backup Paxton Lynch. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak seems content for Lynch to play the entire game, if not for Siemian’s poor performance against the Chiefs a week ago.
But it was the way Kelce did it — all on the ground, on a tight end screen, of all things — that earned him respect and appreciation from his teammates and coaches. After he hauled in the pass on the tunnel screen, he darted between several white jerseys — the Broncos have one of the fastest defenses in the league, by the way — and galloped into the end zone, essentially untouched.
"From Day 1, when we first met, (Del Rio) got in there, he said our mission was to win the division," Raiders’ left tackle Donald Penn said. "We’re going in this weekend with a chance to do it. Our plan’s going. We hit a couple bumps, but it’s going."
The Chargers said after practice Friday that running back Melvin Gordon will not play Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs in the season finale. The team listed Gordon out on its injury report for the Week 17 contest. Coach Mike McCoy said the decision owed to Gordon "not being 100 percent and where we thought we needed him to be to be Melvin."
Starting right guard Larry Duvernay-Tardif (81.8), left guard Zach Fulton (78.9) and right tackle Mitch Schwartz (78.6) were among the top five highest-graded offensive players for the Chiefs last Sunday, per Pro Football Focus. The Chiefs will need that kind of performance moving forward up front if they’re going to accomplish what many believe is feasible for this team, and that starts on Sunday against the Chargers, who despite a disappointing season overall, still possess two of the league’s best pass rushers this year.
"I hope nothing changes," co-offensive coordinator Brad Childress said, speaking of the offense. "You’d like to say it’s an equal opportunity thing, but [Smith has] progressions and reads to take in different spots and it may not include any of the three. It may (for example) include Chris Conley as the first look. As long as he keeps playing with the system and he does a good job of that, the ball gets spread around, it gets moved on its own."