“The defense, I think, is one of the big stories of the season,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said after Sunday’s AFC West-clinching win in New England. “At the beginning of the year, we knew it was going to take a fair amount of the season for that group to really jell. They’ve been a big factor in the last three victories, starting in Mexico.”
“We’re simply building, man,” defensive end Frank Clark said. “We’re not perfect. We don’t got it down. We’re just simply building, and we’re building to the point where we’re getting comfortable with each other as a defense. We’re getting comfortable with the scheme. We enjoy being around each other. We got some guys, man. We got some pieces. There’s nobody going to be able to stop us if we just keep trusting each other.”
The AFC’s Risers
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs’ defense continues to play well, although I’d caution against getting overly excited about what y’all saw Sunday because the Pats’ offensive skill players are a hot mess. While Brady wasn’t fooled by anything, no one was getting open when the Chiefs brought the house. You can’t do that as often against better receiving options. The Chiefs did find matchups on the New England offensive line to take advantage of, so that was good for them.
In the end, the Chiefs won the AFC West for the fourth straight season. Andy Reid is the man.
When Mahomes takes four or more seconds with the ball in his hands before throwing since missing time with his knee injury, he has gone 5-of-18 for 83 yards with a passer rating of 46.3. Before the injury, in that same scenario, Mahomes was 17-of-26 for 331 yards with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 147.1. In 2018, Mahomes was 47-of-95 for 1,101 yards, 10 touchdowns, four picks and a passer rating of 109.1 on those delayed pass attempts. It’s a small sample, but it’s also borne out by watching Mahomes over the past few weeks.
The phrase Patriots coach Bill Belichick rode from the Week 4 loss into the Week 5 triumph: “We’re on to Cincinnati.”
Fast-forward five years, and we’ve found ourselves in the same situation. New England is again coming off a disheartening loss to the Chiefs, falling short offensively in a game that was much closer than their 2014 meeting, but just as discouraging at a much later point in the season. The Patriots are again led by Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, each of whom are five years older and wiser.
Boger brushed off a question about whether the officials ever considered ruling it a touchdown knowing it could be reviewed.
”Not really. Those two officials who were covering it, they look at it in real time,” Boger said. “This case was unique in that the guy who would have ruled touchdown had him short. So maybe if that ruling official on the goal line had a touchdown, we could have gotten into that, but he thought that that guy stepped out of bounds. The goal line wasn’t in the play.”
Broncos (5-8) at Chiefs (9-4)
Opening line: Chiefs, -11.5 points
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: Andy Reid coaching against an AFC West team is almost unfair at this point. Since 2015, the Chiefs have gone 25-2 straight up against divisional opponents and 20-7 ATS. That total includes eight straight wins against the Broncos where the Chiefs have gone 7-1 ATS. One thing to keep in mind is that Patrick Mahomes has a banged up throwing hand. Also, Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock is 2-0 both straight-up and ATS since taking over the starting job in Week 13. The Broncos are also 7-2 ATS in their past nine games overall.
Around the NFL
Indianapolis Colts veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri will undergo season-ending surgery on his left knee and will be placed on injured reserve, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The move signals the end of Vinatieri’s 24th season in the NFL -- and potentially his career.
The Buccaneers receiver is dealing with a hamstring injury that makes his participation in Week 15’s contest at Detroit uncertain. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Evans is undergoing an MRI on the hamstring Monday, but it appears to be a longshot for Evans to play against the Lions, per a source informed of the situation who described the injury as “just not good.”
Yet despite the possibility of a team with just three losses playing on the road against a team with eight or nine losses, the NFL reconfirmed Sunday that reseeding the playoffs has never been a consideration. The logical solution would be to stick to the formula of six playoff teams with four division winners and two wildcard entrants but seed them by record. The top four teams deservedly get to host a playoff games, while the sanctity of division supremacy is protected. It’s appalling that Roger Goodell, who has blathered on for years about preserving the “integrity of the NFL”, won’t even consider a playoff seeding upgrade that is rooted in equality.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
So let’s start with that assumption: the Chiefs win their last three games. With that, here’s what has to happen for the Chiefs to clinch a postseason bye:
The Buffalo Bills have to defeat the New England Patriots in Week 16. That’s it.
Breeland denied that the team has been intent on passing the Patriots. Instead, he said the team’s focus has been on building a cohesive unit.
“I’m not really into who is passing who,” he said. “We came out here and did a job as a team — together. We built cohesiveness and that’s all that really matters to us. We’re getting to the next level.”
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