Upon the conclusion of the third regular season since the 2017 draft, all players picked in the 2017 draft become eligible for second contracts. That includes, to name a few, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, Saints running back Alvin Kamara, and Packers running back Aaron Jones.
2. Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs QB
If the Bears weren’t inept offensively and had been able to keep pace with the Chiefs’ offense, Mahomes likely would’ve done more damage instead of salting the game away in the second half. But Mahomes was brilliant, per usual, against one of the league’s top defenses. After a rough stretch, by his standards, after coming back from his injury, he appears to be fully back. The rest of the AFC playoff field should be terrified.
Last week: 2
2. Patrick Mahomes
Bhanpuri: The gulf between the No. 2 overall pick and the 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 ... 10th(!) pick in the 2017 NFL Draft couldn’t have been wider than last Sunday night. Mahomes v. Trubisky I was as lopsided a bout between first-round heavyweights as it gets. Over four rounds, the Chiefs superstar overwhelmingly outscored his opponent in basically every traditional and non-traditional statistical mark -- completion percentage (69.7% to 52.9%), passing yards (251 to 157), yards per attempt (7.6 to 4.6), TD-to-INT ratio (2:0 to 0:0), passer rating (112.1 to 65.4) -- even managing to win the one category in which his draft classmate typically has the advantage, rushing touchdowns (1 to 0). The decisive knockout of the team that passed him up three years ago had to feel good, but certainly not as good as a potential first-round bye and a bump up these distinguished rankings.
AFC West champions (11-4)
Possible seed: 2, 3, 4
Final game: vs. Chargers
What to know: The Chiefs could actually fall to the fourth seed if they lose this week and the Texans win, but the computer doesn’t see that happening. The computer is actually a big fan of the Chiefs, but the fact Kansas City won’t be getting a bye this year is really hurting their chances of winning the AFC title game. According to SportsLine, the Chiefs chances of winning the AFC title are just 17.36%, which is well behind both the Ravens (46.66%) and Patriots (26.7%), two teams that Kansas City has already beaten.
Kansas City Chiefs 31, Los Angeles Chargers 21
No team has looked readier for the season to end than the Chargers over the last two weeks. No team is peaking with the playoffs approaching to a higher degree than the Chiefs over the last month. That should result in a blowout Sunday, although I’d never count Philip Rivers out when it comes to creating one last “What the ...” result in what could be his final game as a Charger. The Chiefs will be aiming to earn a playoff bye, but Patrick Mahomes might not finish the game out if they see that the Patriots are up big early.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City chiefs offensive coordinator, 50: The former NFL running back has climbed the coaching ranks over 18 years, spending the last two as Andy Reid’s right-hand man with the Chiefs’ high-powered offense. Bieniemy had interviews for four jobs (Jets, Dolphins, Bengals, Bucs) and turned down a fifth (Cardinals) last year. He figures to be in the mix again.
Pass-catchers I hate in Week 17
Mike Williams, Chargers (at Chiefs): Any time you have to go into Arrowhead, it’s not ideal, but this is an even tougher matchup than you might think. Opponents are completing deep passes this season vs. Kansas City at the third-lowest rate and completing red zone passes at the fifth-lowest rate. More than 78% of Williams’ points this season have come when lined up out wide. I bring that up because that is a particular area of strength for the Chiefs. They give up the lowest completion percentage and the seventh-lowest touchdown percentage this season to perimeter wide receivers.
Tyler Biadasz OL
The center position continues to be a position of emphasis for Kansas City in mock drafts. Patrick Mahomes is their most valuable asset and they need to add more reliable, solid play in front of him. Mitchell Schwartz might be the only lineman on that team where an upgrade may not be considered.
Around the NFL
Anthony Lynn, L.A. Chargers: Like we’ve noted in the past, putting Lynn’s name here is not in any way an advocation for getting rid of him. It’s simply an acknowledgement that the Chargers are in a horrible situation as they move into a new stadium with no fan base and an aging quarterback. Lynn could be a casualty in the kind of attention-grabbing hire that bad owners think will drive fan engagement. It would be ludicrous, but, as many players say on a regular basis: The NFL is a business, man.
Between the shoulder injury and the new leg issue, it’s pretty surprising that Jacobs is expected to play. Although, the Raiders still technically have a chance to sneak into the playoffs if they beat the Broncos and have a series of other things fall their way. Jacobs, who leads Oakland with 1,150 rushing yards on the season, may try to gut it out.
Closing in on finishing his 16th season and playing the 255th game of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Witten acknowledged that Sunday’s contest against the Washington Redskins could be his last.
”Sure, it’s a possibility,” Witten said. “I’m aware of that, but really, one of the things when I came back to play I was committed to going out there and playing every game and opportunity. So fortunate to do it. There will be time to make that decision, but I do not envision this being my last game.”
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“I remember it was a challenge at the end,” said Spagnuolo. “It was a tight game, a one-possession game, and Dan (Sorensen) had to make that interception at the end. Here’s how I look at the Chargers: They have a head coach that keeps them battling in games, they have a quarterback that has been around for a long time that does a lot of good things, they have a running back … I would share this with you – our pro personnel department, when they give us the depth chart each week that I put up for the players, they usually put in red the guys that they think are the stars. There were about six or seven red stars with this team. Usually, we have three. That tells you all you need to know about them. I don’t remember anything unique, other than the guys played really well. Hopefully we do the same thing.”
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