What follows is a list of things to look for Sunday, with a few suggestions of how you might chart the snaps (if you’re sick like me and into that kind of thing). If you pay attention to these things, I think you can walk away with a decent idea of Mahomes as an individual player (for one game, a very small sample size).
This was the trendiest play design of the NFL season. After the Chiefs used it to torch the Patriots in Week 1, it seemed like every team ran their own variation of it. New England waited only a week before stealing it from Kansas City. The Rams then borrowed it a few weeks later. When you have Bill Belichick and Sean McVay stealing your designs, you’re doing something right.
That interview is followed up with a weekly A-Team roundtable of Sam Mellinger (@mellinger), Blair Kerkhoff (@BlairKerkhoff), Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) and David Eulitt (@davidphotokc) –– as they wrap up the pod with a long discussion about how Patrick Mahomes will fare in his first start, how other young players who will get their shot should do and much more. They’ll also field questions from Facebook. Enjoy!
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was among one of the players sent home from practice. On Thursday, three more players were sent home with an illness and missed practice - Charcandrick West, Kenneth Acker and Raheem Nunez Roches.
“Obviously, you know people rest players before the playoffs, so I thought about it a little bit, but it was never one of those things that was on the top of my mind,” Ehinger said. “But to get that news, it was just like ‘OK, here we go. let’s strap ’em up.’ So I’m ready to go.”
Schwartz said he doesn’t know if that means his snap streak could be on the line. On the depth chart, Cameron Erving is listed as the backup to Schwartz on the right side and to left tackle Eric Fisher. But Schwartz said the streak is meaningful to him.
“It’s important,” Schwartz said. “You always try to be available for your team, that’s something I pride myself on. All offensive linemen do. A lot of time it’s out of your control whether you get hurt or whether things happen.
“I’m not really concerned about that,” Revis said, referring to last season. “A lot of people give me (stuff) because of what I’ve accomplished. I’m being real, man. A lot of people give me (stuff) because I’ve done so well. On Sunday, it was like ‘Who is he covering?’ I’m over that.
Running back Kareem Hunt: Hunt is coming off his busiest three-game stretch of the season. The Chiefs have given him the ball 92 times, including 14 pass receptions. He was his busiest in last week’s game against the Dolphins, when he got the ball 32 times. Hunt has 324 touches this season, which is a lot for any player, much less a rookie who was never this busy in college. He deserves the week off.
A plethora of Chiefs starters did not play during the 2013 finale against the Chargers. The team listed seven starters among the team’s inactives: quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles, left tackle Branden Albert, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, defensive tackle Dontari Poe and linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali.
The Kansas City Chiefs will give rookie QB Patrick Mahomes his first career start against the Denver Broncos in Week 17.
So, if the Chiefs don’t turn it over this weekend, they’ll set a new NFL record for fewest giveaways in a season.
RB Akeem Hunt
Joel Thorman: I almost picked LB Ukeme Eligwe but offense is more fun so I’ll go with the other Hunt, Akeem. The Chiefs need to develop depth behind Kareem Hunt, who has 271 carries so far this season. Charcandrick West has 18 carries and Akeem Hunt has just four. Let’s see what the other Hunt can do with a full load.
Last Sunday, the Denver Broncos were forced to suit up only four of their own wide receivers given that both Cody Latimer and Emmanuel Sanders were dealing with injuries. It looks like that might be the case again heading into Sunday as the pair are still missing practice in the days leading up to a season-ending visit from the Kansas City Chiefs.
"He just has a great ability to kind of play the game and not get locked in on scheme and too many fundamentals and things like that," Smith said. "Those things are all important -- don't get me wrong. But he has a great ability to go play, which is really important as well.
The 9-6 Baltimore Ravens are in with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals at home. They can also make it if either the Tennessee Titans or Buffalo Bills lose. Per OddsShark, the Ravens are 9.5-point favorites against the six-win Bengals and beat them 20-0 in Week 1. The safe bet is Baltimore get the W, which would mean a date at the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round.
“I pretty much told him I was ready,” Mahomes said. “I’m ready to go out there and do what I can to go out there and win a football game.”