The Chiefs and their young quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, are about to embark on a new season. The playoffs are a different beast. They’ve positioned themselves as well as they possibly could have to make a run at a Super Bowl. The AFC runs through Arrowhead, and to maximize the opportunity they have they’ll need to be at their best. That includes the MVP.
There were a few positive and negative indicators in the game against the Raiders. First, something you want to see more of moving forward, and then something that needs to get cleaned up at a time where a loss sends you home.
As we’ve documented throughout the season, Mahomes has been surprisingly inconsistent with deep shots over the defense. This week, he connected with Hill on a big play down the field.
#SomethingImproved Most of the deep ball struggles with Mahomes have been in the middle of the field, but it was nice to see him connect with Hill on the first touchdown of the game. They'll need these in January. pic.twitter.com/LaZfyuoAPg— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) January 3, 2019
The vast majority of the deep ball struggles have been middle-field throws. For some reason, Mahomes hasn’t connected on many throws that are going over the top of the entire defense. It’s odd. While this throw wasn’t in the middle of the field, seeing him connect with Hill over the top was a positive sign. If the opportunity presents itself in the playoffs, the Chiefs can’t afford to miss these kinds of throws. The margin for error is about to become much slimmer.
It feels like most of the season has been trying to not underthrow or overthrow Hill. They’ve yet to find a consistent sweet spot. Hopefully, they are getting close. This is a good sign.
Mahomes needs to make sure that he’s hitting on the simple throws at a 100 percent rate.
The Chiefs call a run-pass option with Travis Kelce on a bubble. The decision to pass is perfect. The base Mahomes tries to deliver it from isn’t. This is easy yards—maybe a first down—with Kelce on the receiving end.
Simple plays like this can’t be wasted as the games become more magnified. Mahomes has consistently got his team out of bad situations with excellent execution on third-and-long plays, but it doesn’t have to be like that all the time. Being perfect on these plays will go a long way in winning football games in the Divisional Round and beyond.
The Arrowhead Pride Laboratory
Miss this week’s episode of the AP Laboratory? We talked #MVPat, the best defensive performance and more. If you can’t see the player below, click here.