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Arrowheadlines: Chiefs still projected to earn top seed in AFC

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Chiefs headlines for Thursday, December 20.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The latest

Seeking sack record, Chiefs’ Chris Jones not concerned with Pro Bowl snub | The Kansas City Star

“I really haven’t been focused on the Pro Bowl,” Jones said. “It was more so trying to attain the sack record of Justin Houston’s.”

Jones already broke one of Houston’s records when he sacked Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson a week ago, giving him at least one sack in nine consecutive games. He extended that streak even more in Thursday’s loss to the Chargers with an early sack of Philip Rivers. The 10-game streak ties an NFL record.

2018 NFL Playoff Projections: Patriots miss out on first-round bye, Chiefs earn top seed in AFC | CBS Sports

1. Kansas City Chiefs (12.5 wins): AFC West Champs

Although the Chiefs loss to the Chargers has added some serious drama to the AFC playoff race, the computer thinks that Kansas City is still a safe bet to win the AFC West and take the top seed. According to SportLine, the Chiefs have a 72.1 percent chance of winning the division while the Chargers chances are sitting at just 27.9 percent. Of course, don’t be surprised if things get crazy in Week 16 and that’s because both teams are facing a team that’s currently projected to be in the 2018 playoffs. The Chiefs will be traveling to Seattle while the Chargers will be hosting the Ravens. Chiefs remaining schedule: At Seattle, Oakland.

Biggest injury questions for all 32 teams in Week 16 | ESPN

Kansas City Chiefs Cornerback Kendall Fuller did not work in the team portion of practice, but he did participate in conditioning drills, indicating that the Chiefs haven’t given up on him playing on Sunday against the Seahawks. Fuller, who had surgery last week, was wearing what looked like a soft cast on his right wrist. -- Adam Teicher

Saints, Chargers are the NFL’s two best teams; here’s what to make of the other contenders | CBS Sports

Kansas City Chiefs

They are damn lucky not to have lost the last two games at home, and their massive issues on defense are being fully exposed now. You can run it on them all day long, control the clock and keep Patrick Mahomes of the field. And, well, when Sammy Watkins is their fourth- or fifth-best option on offense, they are stone-cold assassins. But you take Kareem Hunt out of the mix and Spencer Ware is beat up and the offensive line is beat up and Tyreek Hill is beat up and Travis Kelce is being smothered every play in double and triple coverage, and, well, it might be another sad January for Andy Reid. Add in the fact that they might blow home-field advantage and I would be quite worried about the current state of affairs. Of course, Mahomes is a freak in the best way possible and he can overcome more than almost anyone else in the NFL … but I still can’t help but think this dream season comes to an abrupt end.

Nine starters miss practice four days before Chiefs come to town | The News Tribune (Seattle)

The week probable NFL most valuable player Patrick Mahomes is bringing the NFL’s highest-scoring offense directly at you is the absolute wrong one to be missing three-quarters of your starting secondary, including both starting safeties.

But that’s what the Seahawks have going on days before the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs start throwing at them.

Chiefs on shaky injury ground heading to Seattle showdown | Associated Press

Chiefs coach Andy Reid delivered some promising news Wednesday when he rattled off the list of players who wouldn’t be practicing for this weekend’s trip to Seattle and running back Spencer Ware and offensive lineman Cam Erving were missing.

Then he mentioned right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

’’You mean Cam Erving, right?’’ Reid was asked.

’’No, Mitchell,’’ he replied.

Well, so much for a promising injury report.

Analysis: Splurging to bolster running back depth not priority for Chiefs. Here’s why | The Kansas City Star

Unless the Chiefs shift their approach to the position under coach Andy Reid — one he has maintained since long before coming to Kansas City — it’s unlikely the team adds a high-priced free-agent to the backfield. Such an addition could handcuff their ability to secure some of their top young players, guys who are on the verge of being viewed as league-wide stars such as wide receiver/punt returner Tyreek Hill and defensive lineman Chris Jones.

Chiefs’ FB Anthony Sherman, WR Gehrig Dieter and OG Andrew Wylie Throw a Holiday Party for Gold Star Families | Chiefs dot com

“The military is something that’s close to my heart,” said fullback Anthony Sherman.” [Chiefs’ Director of Community Outreach] Chuck Castellano mentioned to me that there were some Gold Star families that might enjoy a night out, and I said to sign me up. This is something to give back and to provide a bright spot in their day. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Around the league

NFL execs pick major awards: Who’s MVP? Rookies of the Year? | NFL

“Only one I’m sure on is MVP = Brees,” texted an NFC general manager -- and the panel agreed, rewarding the league’s all-time leading passer with 10 votes for a remarkable season at age 39. Is there a sentimental aspect to giving the highest individual honor to a veteran who may never have another crack at winning it? Probably. One NFC executive admitted as much in giving the nod to Brees over Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was the runner-up with six votes. “I just think (Brees has) played the best,” a different NFC exec said. “He’s completed almost 75 percent of his passes, 8.15 (per pass) -- it’s amazing. Mahomes, (Philip) Rivers -- they’re right there. But I just say Brees. He’s the best quarterback and, right now, they’re the best team.”

NFL Panic Index 2018: Nobody’s afraid of the Patriots anymore | SB Nation

After nearly two decades of the New England Patriots cranking out winning seasons and trips to the Super Bowl, you probably wanted the era of dominance to end in flames.

Maybe you hoped the rumblings of a Tom Brady-Bill Belichick feud would finally boil over and end with a messy divorce. Or maybe the drama-filled start to the 2018 offseason would cause the bottom to fall out and the Patriots would finally be a team with double-digit losses.

The NFL’s Analytics Revolution Has Arrived | The Ringer

Hornsby, like Sharp, said teams are finally figuring out the value of never giving the ball up. In baseball, analytics staffs had to work to convince managers that you shouldn’t give up outs via sacrifice bunts, since there are only 27 outs for each team in a game. In the NFL, this logic applies to punting. Teams this season average between 10 and 13 drives per game, and 11 teams have fourth-down conversion rates of at least 60 percent. Of the six teams with conversion rates of at least 70 percent, five are locks for the playoffs. The Chiefs have converted 90.9 percent of their fourth downs. The lesson: Do everything you can to keep the ball.

NFL Announces Inaugural ‘Big Data Bowl’ Analytics Contest | Sports Illustrated

Over the years, the NFL has continued to make it clear that it is embracing the incorporation of analytics in evaluating teams and players. Now, the league is taking another step toward engaging the analytics community.

On Wednesday, NFL Football Operations announced its first-ever “Big Data Bowl,” a sports analytics contest intended to help identify talented members of the analytics community.

The NFL Soap Opera Is Ready for Its Twist Ending | Wall Street Journal

Once there was a football shootout so frenetic and high-scoring that it became an instant legend, an electric distillation of everything exhilarating about the NFL at that time. That game took place during a far-off time called November, when the Los Angeles Rams beat the Kansas City Chiefs in a 54-51 thriller.

Panthers’ Cam Newton expected to miss rest of season | NFL

After further consideration, the Carolina Panthers will make the sensible move and shut down Cam Newton for the rest of the season.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that the Panthers are expected to sit Newton now that they are essentially out of the playoff race. Backup Taylor Heinicke will start Sunday versus the Atlanta Falcons.

Unpopular Opinions: Ranking sweetest NFL victories since 2010 | NFL

1) 2016: The Patriots over the world, post-Deflategate

In “Ocean’s 11,” heist bank-roller Reuben describes the tenaciousness of target Terry Benedict as such: “At the end of this, he’d BETTER not know you’re involved, not know your names or think you’re dead because he’ll kill ya, and then he’ll go to work on ya.” And that’s what the Patriots’ 2016 season kind of felt like. Brady served his four-game suspension for Deflategate (don’t get me started) and then returned in Week 5 to throw for 406 yards and three touchdowns. He would lose one more game the entire season. The Colts (who helped kick off the Deflategate saga) and Ravens (who denied doing so) didn’t even make the playoffs that year, so Brady destroyed the Texans and Steelers instead. And then he rallied his team for the most improbable comeback in Super Bowl history. All the while, I was standing in the tunnel at NRG Stadium during Super Bowl LI and asking myself why I was rooting for the Patriots this whole time. Brady got his ultimate victory -- and looking back, it’s kind of like what happened in the “Karate Kid,” but only if Johnny had actually been able to sweep the leg.

NFL’s ‘random’ testing of Eric Reid seems anything but | San Francisco Chronicle

“That has to be statistically impossible,” Reid said this week. “I’m not a mathematician, but there’s no way that’s random.”

I’m not a mathematician, either, but according to Yahoo Sports, there is a 0.17 percent chance of Reid getting chosen six times in 11 weeks. In my view, there seems to be a 0.00 percent chance that the one player involved in a collusion suit against the league would be randomly chosen six times.

In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride

Chiefs’ Wednesday injury report vs. Seahawks: Eric Berry a full participant for first time all year

Each practice day, the Kansas City Chiefs will release an official injury report leading up to the next game. The Chiefs travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football this weekend.

Wednesday press roundup: Mitch Schwartz misses time, the Pro Bowl and bouncing back

Coach Reid said that cornerback Kendall Fuller, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz would not practice on Wednesday. Fuller had surgery on his wrist on Friday — and has previously been described as likely to play on Sunday — and Watkins continues to recover from the foot injury he suffered in Week 9. Reid described both players as day to day, and said Schwartz suffered a knee injury on Thursday against the Chargers. Reid also said that left guard Cam Erving — held out of the Chargers game with a knee injury — would be limited in Wednesday’s practice.

Patrick Mahomes has signed an endorsement deal with Hunt’s ketchup

In the Hunt’s video, Mahomes is simultaneously curling while squeezing ketchup onto macaroni and cheese, a food he later admitted to regularly eating with the condiment.

Although that’s gross, I think the fact that Mahomes is getting endorsement deals this early into his career is a great sign, if there weren’t enough already. Something I always say as I cover the NFL is follow the money.

Big companies realize Mahomes is the next face of the league. So should we.

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