It’s not only that the Chiefs defense is porous against the run, but how they’ve sprung their leaks. Kansas City is banged up. Frank Clark is out with a neck injury. Defensive tackles Chris Jones and Xavier Williams are also sidelined. Chiefs linebackers are an uneven bunch, susceptible to big plays as shown by Aaron Jones and the Packers. They benched cover man Darron Lee because he wasn’t great in coverage, which led to the good decision of playing Reggie Ragland more.
But Anthony Hitchens (six missed tackles) and Damien Wilson (five) play a lot, and they’re vulnerable. Replacement DTs Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders are young.
When teams bulk up, the Chiefs have an even harder time stopping the run, playing into the Vikings’ strengths. Only the Steelers, Lions and Cardinals are as bad at stopping runs from ’12 personnel,’ or two tight ends, as the Chiefs, according to Sharp Football.
Kansas City Chiefs
You know who’s not hurting for cap space? The Chiefs. You know who needed desperately to add something to their defense or O-line? The Chiefs. Kansas City was linked to some big names, including Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson, in the weeks leading up to the deadline, but there was hardly a peep from their building when the time came to do a deal. That doesn’t mean Patrick Mahomes’ presence alone won’t carry them to the playoffs, but it’s just a shame they’ll be moving forward without even an infusion of depth along the trenches or in the secondary.
Chiefs Don’t Need Mahomes to Win Miserable AFC West
Moreover, consider that the Chiefs are still leading the AFC West by two games over a flagging Oakland Raiders squad. Behind the Raiders, the Chargers and the Broncos round out a division that has struggled to put any pressure on Kansas City whatsoever.
The remainder of the schedule sees the Raiders, the Chargers (twice), and the hapless Broncos sprinkled among some tougher matchups like the Vikings and New England Patriots. Matt Moore has shown more than enough to beat most of these teams comfortably, putting no pressure on a Mahomes return.
7. Mahomes comes up hobbling vs. Colts
It’s impossible to know how different things would look for the 5-3 Chiefs if Mahomes had been healthy all year, but the god-mode passer has been turned into a mere mortal in 2019 thanks to a series of injuries. Late in the third quarter of the team’s Week 5 loss to the Colts, Mahomes aggravated a high ankle sprain he’d been playing on since Week 1, forcing the superstar to play almost literally on one leg for the rest of the game.
Not even Mahomes could power through an injury like that, which sapped him of his signature throw-from-any-platform talent. The contrast between healthy Mahomes and injured Mahomes was stark, and he struggled to finish that loss to Indianapolis, reaggravated the injury in the loss to Houston the next week, and then dislocated his knee on a sneak attempt against the Broncos in Week 7. Mahomes was lucky to avoid a season-ending injury, and could return as soon as next week―but the compounding ankle and knee injuries could leave the All-Pro playing somewhere far below peak levels. His injuries come with massive playoff and Super Bowl implications.
Tom Brady is the reigning Super Bowl champion and the king of NFL jersey sales. According to a post published to the NFL’s official Instagram page on Monday, the New England Patriots quarterback has the most coveted jersey of the 2019 season.
The future Hall-of-Famer is in good company. Joining him on that top-10 list is reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A notable newcomer to the lineup is rookie Daniel Jones, who was selected number six overall by the New York Giants in this year’s draft and was a hit when he first replaced Eli Manning.
“Isn’t that what you love about him?” Reid said. “I mean, he was telling me that he wanted to go back in when he hurt it the first time in the Denver game. So, that’s him. Who wants to slow that down — that thinking at least — and then it’s important the medical people take care of it from there.”
‘’We looked at each other and thought, ‘No way. We don’t think these guys can score on us,’’’ said Chiefs linebacker Bobby Bell, one of six future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the defense alone. ‘’That’s what we told our offense.’’
Around the league
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Stephon Gilmore (11 votes: Baldinger, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Casserly, Filice, Jones, Patra, Robinson, Rosenthal, Smith, Trotter)
Why Steve Smith Sr. chose Stephon Gilmore: I originally had Baker Mayfield in this spot. That’s right! Mayfield for DPOY! The guy has been responsible for 12 picks and three fumbles (one lost) in seven games so far. He’s handing out turnovers to defenses across the league like candy at Halloween. Unfortunately, my editors wouldn’t let me pick him since he technically doesn’t qualify. So Stephon Gilmore it is. The Patriots’ shutdown cornerback comes to play every week -- often shadowing the opponent’s top receiver -- and he has one of New England’s four defensive TDs this season. Shutdown cornerbacks are hard to come by, but Gilmore has played arguably better than any other through the first half of the season.
The Dolphins haven’t announced that Howard will land on injured reserve yet, but coach Brian Flores did express some empathy for Howard due to this knee injury.
”It’s unfortunate. He’s obviously one of our top players. You never want to see anyone get injured or deal with things,” Flores said. “He’s a tough kid. I’m sure he’ll bounce back.”
“Let’s go ahead and make the switch and get behind Ryan and try to go win these next couple of games,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor of the reasoning behind the move and its timing. “This is not an easy decision to make. We’re not 0-8 because of Andy. Andy has worked harder than anyone else in this building to help us win football games. Just a decision I made.”
Talib is on IR due to a rib injury and is a free agent after the season. While he’s eligible to come off injured reserve in Week 16, it’s more likely he’ll never play a down in Miami. The Dolphins basically bought a fifth-rounder to pay the balance of Talib’s $4.2 million contract this season.
For the Rams, the move shaves just $4.2 million off the salary cap. L.A. has been trying to move Talib’s contract since the former Pro Bowl corner landed on IR. The money could go toward a new deal for Jalen Ramsey.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Should the Chiefs be in win-now mode?
Others say they shouldn’t be — that with Mahomes on the roster for the foreseeable future, there’s no such thing as a Super Bowl window.
But I always come back to an essential truth about being an NFL general manager: your job is to build a team than can succeed both now and in the future. You have to win now in order to keep your job. You have to win in the future so that you can keep your job in... you know... the future. Going all-in during a particular season satisfies just one of those criteria.
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