Often working the middle of the field, Kelce leads the team in receptions (75), targets (109) and yards (989). That receiving yardage mark ranks first among all NFL tight ends and it puts him on the verge of history.
If he gets at least 11 receiving yards against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, he will become the first tight end in NFL history with four straight 1,000-yard seasons.
Even former Chiefs tight end and 2019 Hall of Fame inductee Tony Gonzalez didn’t accomplish that. Kelce currently shares the record of three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons with Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who did it from 2014 to 2016.
“It was a good win last week,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “At this time of the year, one of the challenges is that win, lose or draw, put it to bed quick and move on to the next one. That’s what we kind of have done.”
Cornerback Charvarius Ward agreed.
“It definitely won’t be a letdown,” Ward said. “We got bigger goals than the Broncos, so we’re getting ready for the playoffs in the long run.”
The quarterback playing for the other team doesn’t have to worry about job security, but there are some concerns. Patrick Mahomes is expected to play this week but may not have his signature fastball after hurting his throwing hand when he braced himself for a fall in the first half against the Patriots. Mahomes stayed in the game after he “hit the ground weird,” but the injury affected his next pass, and Kansas City avoided their characteristic deep throws afterward. Mahomes’s average pass traveled just 5.5 yards in the air, the shortest number in his career, according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell. The injury may affect him this week too. His hand swelled and bruised, which affected how he was holding the ball on Monday and Tuesday.
Honey Badger don’t care for letdowns
”We walked through that week just expecting to win,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was on that Cardinals team, told me.
Jones threw two touchdown passes and finished with a 149.3 passer rating. The highest of his career.
”We came out, played man, he took his time and went through his reads.”
Arizona lost, 25-13.
”After that game, I vowed to never forget it,” Mathieu told me.
It’s that game that Mathieu has been telling his teammates about this week. He’s using it as a reminder to make sure the Chiefs’ defense doesn’t overlook Broncos rookie quarterback Drew Lock as he makes his third NFL start.
”We’re going to respect him,” Mathieu said. “He’s talented. And if we come out and we don’t show up, we know he wants to throw the ball all over the place.”
Broncos at Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET
Over the past two seasons, the two have connected on 18 pass plays of 30 yards or more, most for any quarterback-receiver duo in the NFL. Mahomes’ 56 completions that have gained 30 or more yards are most in the league among quarterbacks, and Hill’s 22 receptions (he had four with Matt Moore) are the most among receivers. The eight 30-plus-yard touchdowns Hill has caught are also most in the league, and that’s despite his missing several weeks this season with a sternum injury.
Broncos-Chiefs Under 46
Again, if you watch our weekly Sunday “Early Look” YouTube exclusive (in the giant player above featuring my head) you heard me saying to take the under in this game at 47. It might not have been on the board everywhere because of Patrick Mahomes’ injury, but it was widely available at 46 by the middle of the week. It’s currently 44.5, which is slightly less appealing, but it needs to be snared before it crosses the key number of 44. The Chiefs are -10 in this game (although you’ll notice it’s 9.5 for our picks podcast because of where the lines lock) and that is important for #trends, because Andy Reid coached teams are 11-5 to the under in December games at home in Kansas City. Additionally, when Reid is a touchdown or more favorite, the under in December home games is 5-1. Patrick Mahomes’ hand isn’t right, so I expect the Chiefs to try and run the ball or work the short passing game instead of challenging the Broncos downfield. Drew Lock looked fantastic against the Texans, but the Chiefs are a much better defense than people understand and he won’t challenge vertically. This should be a grinder of a game that could feature a bunch of snow, 28-degree temperatures and 11 mph of wind. We could get burnt by defensive touchdowns but I think this is a molasses game.
Broncos (5-8) at Chiefs (9-4)
What to watch for: The Chiefs are playing much better defense of late (14 points allowed per game over the past three), but the Broncos and rookie quarterback Drew Lock might represent their biggest challenge during this stretch. Don’t be surprised if the Chiefs blitz Lock relentlessly, as they did last week with the Patriots’ Tom Brady. -- Adam Teicher
Bold prediction: The Broncos have surrendered at least three sacks in eight games this season; this will be the ninth. After two games in which opposing defensive coordinators did little extra to pressure Lock or to disguise their coverages, the rookie will feel the heat from the Chiefs. -- Jeff Legwold
Tony Gonzalez (1997-2013)
Collinsworth: I just thought everything you did was natural. ... It’s one thing to extend your arms and make a catch. It’s another to be able to catch it fully extended. I just thought that was something you were born with, but it’s something you figured out in Year 2.
Belichick: Just about time we think we’ve got you doubled and figured out, there’s some other way you beat the double team. Then, they outlawed the punt-return double team we put on you down in Atlanta. ... So we can’t do that anymore. Then you retired, thank God. That took us off the hook. ... When I vote for the top 100 players, tight ends, if we double-covered ‘em on every single play so they couldn’t get the ball, check, vote. ... Tony is really kind of the prototype tight end in that he can get open, he can catch the ball, he can score points and gain yards. That’s really what football’s about.
Around the NFL
“It was mutual conversations as this thing went on,” Kingsbury said of his talks with Suggs. “Like I said, the respect was both ways. We know what he’s meant to this league, the Hall of Fame player he’s been, so we just wanted to have those conversations.”
“This was an organizational decision,” Shurmur said. “From ownership to management to our football operations, we felt it was in the best interests of the franchise and the player. Obviously, what happened this week, and the refusal to acknowledge the inappropriate and offensive language, was the determining factor.”
The obvious choice in my mind is the Dallas Cowboys
Of course, that’s if the Cowboys would rather have a 43-year-old Brady over a younger Dak Prescott. Hear me out with this one, though: Jerry Jones is getting up there in age. He wants to win NOW.
Hire McDaniels and sign Brady. Let Prescott walk. Brady now has the best offensive line in the league and an elite running back. Sign Amari Cooper to a long-term deal and draft a tight end. Weapons set.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
According to PFF premium stats, Mahomes has put himself in a position to be pressured 3.5 times a game since his return to the lineup — more than twice as much as the 1.6 he recorded before his injury. It’s obvious that Mahomes does not have confidence in his pass protection to keep him clean in a tight pocket. He’s started to bail from good pockets, which has created unnecessary pressure.
5) Prediction time: How does this game play out?
I was shocked the Broncos found a way to slow down the Texans’ offense this week and have serious doubts lightning will strike twice. I worry that the Lock struggles in his first test against an elite team, and all of the goodwill evaporates in an ugly 31-14 loss.
SB Nation’s Fan Pulse (after Week 14)
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