1) Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: That fourth-and-9 throw to Tyreek Hill was his MVP moment. Mahomes is rewriting what’s possible at the position, forced to beat perfectly called defensive plays with even better throws.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (100 percent chance of making playoffs)
Kryptonite: great running teams
Part of being a great football team is minimizing weaknesses. The Chiefs minimize their biggest weakness by rendering it irrelevant most weeks. Kansas City ranked 32nd in rush defense by DVOA heading into Sunday’s game with the Ravens. Most weeks, the Chiefs get out to a huge lead and make running the football a waste of time for the opposing team, which needs to throw the ball to catch up and keep pace with Patrick Mahomes & Co.
Patrick Mahomes II Converts a Game-Saving Fourth Down
There’s no doubt that Mahomes landed in a near-ideal situation in Kansas City, helming an innovative hybrid spread offense under Andy Reid and throwing to a pair of the league’s most dynamic pass catchers in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. In the midst of what’s already been one of the most statistically impressive quarterback seasons in NFL history, Mahomes somehow outdid himself against the Ravens on Sunday, strengthening his MVP résumé by proving once again that he’s unique and irreplaceable in the Chiefs system.
“He’s a special talent,” guard Jeff Allen said. “Not just a special talent but a special leader. ... There’s no shot clock for Pat. You’ve always got to keeping blocking, keep busting your tail because you never know. He might pop out of there and make something special like that fourth-down play.”
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the organization was aware of three separate off-field incidents that led to the release of star running back Kareem Hunt, including the alleged assault in a Cleveland hotel that was captured on a security camera.
The team’s owners also said after Kansas City clinched a playoff berth with a 27-24 overtime victory over the Ravens on Sunday that the NFL was made aware of each of the cases.
“I think he’s shown even more than what we thought he’d be during the draft process,” Hunt said with a hint of a smile. “In so many ways he’s exceeded our expectations, and when you have a guy like Patrick under center, you always have a chance to win games.”
In order to have a chance against the Chiefs, the Chargers have to figure out how to contain second-year pro Patrick Mahomes, who leads the league in passing yards (4,300) and passing touchdowns (43).
“He’s the best quarterback in the league this year so far,” Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa said. “To be successful against them, obviously you’re going to have to slow him down.”
The biggest concern going into the week is the status of running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Gordon, who is fourth in the league in yards from scrimmage per game (125.5), has missed the past two games because of an MCL sprain to his right knee. Ekeler is in the concussion protocol after reporting symptoms during the walkthrough. Ekeler, who had 66 yards on 15 carries against Cincinnati, was hit in the head by Clayton Fejedelem on an onside kick and also suffered a pinched nerve in his neck.
Speaking to the media Monday from Kansas City, Donovan said the team has a great relationship with Missouri Western and expects to come back for training camp.
Donovan told News-Press Now on the final day of camp this past summer the Chiefs would return.
Around the league
The Seahawks defense followed in the footsteps of the Ravens’ and Bears’ this week, frustrating the opposing big-time quarterback across the line of scrimmage, forcing stops with crushing pressure and proving that, in today’s NFL, defense can still be king. Led by Bobby Wagner, Frank Clark and a transcendent Shaquill Griffin, Seattle nearly shut out Kirk Cousins and an overwhelmed Vikings offense and held Minnesota to just 276 total yards. Minnesota attempted to lean on Dalvin Cook early, but the back never broke out. The dynamic duo of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were, save for one spectacular Diggs catch, held in check by Griffin and Tre Flowers. The Vikings were an anemic 2-for-10 on third downs and didn’t score until the game’s dying embers. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and his staff deserve an immense amount of credit for turning this supposed rebuilding defense into a playoff-bound unit.
This Sunday is why we love football. It was wild. Last-second wins, heartbreaking losses, seasons ended, coaches saving jobs, coaches losing jobs, the MVP race is tightening up, and more.
We had four remarkable endings to games yesterday, all unique and all of them awesome.
But reporters are certain to ask owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell about the Washington Redskins’ decision to claim Reuben Foster on Nov. 27, days after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers following an arrest for a domestic violence allegation, and about the NFL’s investigation into a February incident in which Kareem Hunt was caught on videotape kicking a woman during an argument. Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 30, hours after the video became public, and he went unclaimed last week, making him a free agent. The NFL is looking into both cases, and Foster is on the Reserve/Commissioner Exempt List, meaning he cannot play for Washington until his case is decided. Hunt is also on the list, meaning if a team signs him, he, too, would have to wait until the NFL determines his fate.
The two biggest departures via trade were outside linebacker Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper, and Gruden has stockpiled draft picks with a view to the future. As of now, the Raiders are set to enter the 2019 draft with three first-round draft picks as a result of the high-profile trades.
“I think any coach wants input,” Gruden said. “Let’s be honest. I’ve had input here. I had input on the draft picks that we made when I was here with Al Davis, I had some input on the draft this year. And I think it’s a collaboration around the league. I think the general manager, the scouts, the coaching staff, sometimes the owner, all work together in every selection. So yeah I would like to be involved for obvious reasons.”
“When we control what we can control, we dominate and you saw that tonight,” safety Eddie Jackson told NFL.com. “Like Coach [Matt] Nagy always says, can’t nobody in the NFL mess with us when we play our game. If people aren’t [figuring that out], they’d better do it quick, ’cause we’re coming. We’re coming every week.”
“That was a pretty terrible call, to be honest,” Jenkins said, via NBC Sports Philly. “They reviewed it and the explanation I got was that it wasn’t a clear recovery. Although Kamu had the ball in his hand and there were only Eagles defenders on the ball in the replay. Common sense ... you saw Kamu come out with the ball. Obviously, they don’t pay me to make calls, but in hindsight, that was a big play in the game.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
As we noted this morning in our article on short weeks, the practice week leading up to Thursday night is made up of mostly made up of walkthroughs and meetings so the players can simultaneously recover. Monday’s “practice report” is an indication of what each player’s status would be if it were a regular practice day.
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