2) Tyrann Mathieu, S, Kansas City Chiefs
Here’s Thomas’ stat line: 45 tackles, 1.5 sacks, four passes defended, two interceptions and one forced fumble as part of the No. 6 defense in the NFL. Here’s Mathieu’s: 62 tackles, 2.0 sacks, nine passes defended and three interceptions as part of the 18th-ranked defense.
Both are veterans in their first season with their new teams. Both are key pieces of their defenses. One unit is playing better than the other, but both play for division champions headed toward home playoff games.
Kansas City has proven they can win on the road
In the event that the AFC playoff picture remains the way it currently is, the Chiefs would likely have to travel to Baltimore or New England for a playoff game. That won’t be an issue for the Chiefs, as they’ve proven they can win on the road in 2019.
As much as Kansas City loves to play at Arrowhead Stadium, they’ve actually been better away from home. Thus far, the Chiefs have won six of their seven road games—including an impressive victory over the Patriots in Foxborough.
For the Chiefs to have a crack at a Super Bowl title, they are probably going to have to defeat a talented team on the road. Once they make their arrival in Miami for the Super Bowl, they will be battle-tested; giving them a slight advantage over their opponent.
Patrick Mahomes (NFL)
A modern-day gunslinger who exhibits almost zero of the negative qualities that come with such a label, Mahomes’ first two full seasons in the league have put him on a Hall of Fame path. His name appearing on this list may seem like a slight since he’s well on his way to becoming the face of the NFL with an MVP trophy already. At 24, Mahomes will be a fixture on Sundays for a long time. Throw in what should be a few opportunities to hoist a Lombardi Trophy, and Mahomes could be entrenched in the GOAT debate by 2030.
UNSTOPPABLE PERFORMANCE: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs
The rest of the AFC should be frightened by what Mahomes put on tape Sunday in the snow against Denver. Even if the Chiefs have enjoyed bigger statistical days, this was the best performance by the 2018 MVP all season. Despite the difficult conditions, Mahomes’ accuracy, arm strength, touch, anticipation and decision-making were all perfectly on point throughout his 340-yard performance. No one makes quarterbacking look easier. I would pay serious money to watch Mahomes play football in the snow every Sunday, perhaps even on weekdays and special offseason dates for premium subscribers.
Kansas City Chiefs
Projected first-round pick: No. 28
Cornerback is a position to watch for the Chiefs in the draft. Three of their five -- Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller and Mo Claiborne -- are in the final seasons of their contracts. The Chiefs could be looking for a starter and perhaps a nickelback. -- Adam Teicher
CHIEFS (10-4): A CBS graphic indicating Travis Kelce’s first seven seasons have produced more receiving yardage than any tight end was deceiving. Microfracture surgery ended Kelce’s rookie season after one stat-less game. The 2013 third-round pick’s 6,367 yards in six seasons better every other tight end’s first seven years. Comparing Kelce’s first six healthy seasons to the field, the Chief has 812 more yards than any tight end in NFL history. Kansas City began using its near-unrivaled chess piece frequently against Denver to avoid testing cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. Since 2016, the perennial Pro Bowl weapon has posted four 100-yard games against the Broncos; his 11 catches for 142 yards Sunday were easily season-highs. With both Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes, Kelce has been the Chiefs’ skill-position centerpiece. He’s swung the AFC West’s balance of power. With a tight end-record four straight 1,000-yard seasons, the 30-year-old playmaker is on track for the Hall of Fame. GAME GRADE: A | NEXT: at Bears (Sun.)
Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
What we’re saying now:
Bieniemy should be a head coach in the NFL next season. If Andy Reid’s recommendation means anything (and clearly, it seems to), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him as one of the first candidates in an interview room after the end of this season.
Don’t sleep on ... award: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes’ 300.5-yard average per game this season ranks fourth in the league, and his 77.9 Total QBR isn’t far behind Jackson’s (80.2). Mahomes isn’t the 2019 MVP and might not be the runner-up in the voting, but he is finishing the season in a way that should scare his playoff opponents.
Neville Gallimore DL
Chris Jones has been the Chiefs’ best defensive tackle but he’s in the last year of his deal and there isn’t much depth behind him. Gallimore, who has the athleticism and quickness to get into the backfield, moves effortlessly for his size and is coming off a strong season for the Sooners.
Around the NFL
1. Josh Jacobs, Raiders
Jacobs has had 1,150 rushing yards through Week 15. The next-closest rookie is Bills running back Devin Singletary at 729. That’s a pretty big gap!
The former Alabama star has vaulted past DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard to the top of Oakland’s rotation, taking up nearly two-thirds of the team’s carries in the process. He’s averaged 7.5 yards per carry on runs outside the tackle box and has broken more tackles than all but two other running backs (Chris Carson and Derrick Henry).
8. Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy | Height: 6’ 1” | Weight: 192 pounds
He’s the presumptive choice to be the first receiver taken, but I’m not so sure it’s going to happen that way for the Calvin Ridley playalike anymore.
The Ravens tied the 1973 Miami Dolphins for the most Pro Bowlers in history from one team, prior to any additions made due to injuries. The 1973 Dolphins, like the undefeated 1972 Dolphins, won the Super Bowl.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Gonzalez had four (and only four) 1,000-yard seasons in his 17-year career — but never in a row. Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski can say the same. One player is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the other will be there soon enough.
Kelce, at the ripe age of 30, has that potential.
“He has that ability, yes,” said tight ends coach Tom Melvin of Kelce’s Hall of Fame chances. “Longevity is the difference there. If his longevity’s going to put him there, then I think he definitely has a chance on that, but he’s years away from getting to that point. As far as now — where he is at this point in his career — he’s on track.”
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