3. Is Damien Williams kicking it into gear?
Williams struggled mightily out of the gate, but in recent weeks, he has been surging, most recently racking up 124 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns in the win over the Chargers.
Does this mean Williams is ready for another impressive playoff showing like last year?
Kansas City could really use it, as the Chiefs have lacked a consistent running game all season, which is something that ends up dooming some teams in the postseason.
1. Damien Williams had a game to remember
Williams is now one of only six players in NFL history to tally multiple 80+ yard touchdown runs in a single season, joining Chris Johnson (twice), Jamaal Charles, Barry Sanders, Adrian Peterson and Hugh McElhenny.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Man, did the Chiefs catch a break on Sunday. New England’s loss to Miami opened the door for Kansas City to snag the AFC’s no. 2 seed and a crucial first-round bye. This weekend, instead of hosting a Titans team that beat them in November, the Chiefs will be watching the wild-card round from the comfort of their own homes. Sunday’s seed shuffling may also result in the Chiefs hosting the Patriots in the divisional round rather than heading to Foxborough—which is a potentially season-changing swing. Kansas City is less than a month removed from picking up a convincing road win over the Pats; hosting the Patriots this time around, the Chiefs would almost surely be a considerable favorite. Andy Reid’s team wasn’t the juggernaut that many expected them to be heading into the season. But this group has overcome a serious injury to Patrick Mahomes, fixed many of its issues on defense, and ended up with a bye in the first round. The Chiefs are the team we thought they were. It just took a while to get there.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
I think the Chiefs have closed the gap on the Ravens. Their defense is playing better than expected, even though they showed some warts again. I did not buy how much people were talking them up the last month because they played some bum quarterbacks, but they are much improved from this time last season.
Tyrann Mathieu should get some votes for Defensive Player of the Year. He’s been outstanding and an underrated free agent signing. Promising rookie Juan Thornhill being out for the season is a concern for the defense, though.
I have to worry about the offense, too. The Chiefs just have large portions of the game where they don’t do much on offense, but they always know they have the home run opportunities. In the playoffs, having a few off drives might cost them. But, they now have a week off, and Andy Reid is fantastic after a bye.
Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) | Roster rating: 8
TOP NEEDS: Defensive tackle, cornerback, running back
ROSTER ANALYSIS: Blessed with the NFL’s most talented quarterback, the Chiefs rocketed from second-tier contender to Super Bowl threat since giving the keys to Patrick Mahomes. The harder part of this equation could start in 2020, when Mahomes becomes eligible for a market-shifting extension. That will limit the team’s ability to dole out the kind of contracts it has to the likes of safety Tyrann Mathieu and WR Sammy Watkins. Among their free agents, the Chiefs’ top priority will be retaining impact DT Chris Jones. Jones, who has the most consecutive games with a sack in NFL history, will command closer to Aaron Donald money ($23 million per year) than the $17.1M-average annual Fletcher Cox rate. A Jones tag would cost roughly $16.7M. The Chiefs can shed their ill-advised Watkins contract, saving $14M, to address more pressing issues. Kansas City has also deployed a top-10 DVOA pass defense without a big-name cornerback, though Charvarius Ward has grown into a full-time starter. But with slot man Kendall Fuller’s deal expiring, the team needs multiple pieces here. The Chiefs have yet to replace RB Kareem Hunt. Damien Williams is not on the ex-rushing champion’s level; LeSean McCoy is a stopgap. While it’s possible Darrel Williams or Darwin Thompson could start on the cheap, the Chiefs will be candidates to add a better option in the draft.
The Kansas City Chiefs will host an AFC Divisional Home Game, which reached No. 1 on the weekend’s best-selling events list, according to Ticket Club sales data. The Chiefs’ opponent will be determined in the wild card rounds. The NFL playoffs took two other top spots for wild card games between the Eagles and Seahawks as well as the Texans vs. Bills game.
“Most fans want me to pick one over the other, and I never do that.” Allen said. “I embrace both teams. I enjoyed playing for both and I’ve had great experiences for both teams. So when they play each other I’m neutral, but when they’re playing someone else, I’m certainly rooting for both.”
Around the NFL
“I plan to play football, so yes,” Rivers said Sunday, when asked whether he would consider playing for another team. “Where that is going to be will get sorted out over the next few months. I’ve never been in this position. I don’t even know when the league year starts. We’ll just kind of see. I’m very thankful for the 16 years, and if there is another, I’ll be thankful for that.”
“I wouldn’t have signed here for four years,” Bell said. “I’m a guy that is extremely patient, not just on the field. I understand it takes a while to build a stable program. I’m here for it. It’s what I want to do. I’m not saying I’m ecstatic about it. I’m not saying I’m down about it. I understand it’s a process, getting things going in the right direction.”
“We have a chance to go on a ‘Revenge Tour,’ and what better way than to play Tennessee, who we lost to last year,” Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy said Monday.
Bills at Texans (-3), O/U 39.5
Sat., Jan. 4, 4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC
This is a pretty standard and expected line for this game. Basically this is Josh Allen’s first playoff game and just the second for Deshaun Watson. We’ve seen Watson play on a big stage, but there are definitely some questions about how he’ll do in this particular matchup. The Bills are pretty good at stopping the run but they are excellent at stopping the pass. Houston typically succeeds when it’s winging the ball around to DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills. Fuller is still very much TBD, although if I was guessing now I would think he’s not playing. The total should tell you this won’t be a high-scoring game, which is not surprising given Houston oftentimes leans on the ground game and Buffalo is extremely conservative and not at all high-powered.
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And Rivers believes the Chiefs have a chance to win it all.
“Heck yeah — they do,” he said. “They’re one of 12 teams in it, so that’s how I see it. There has been a five seed [that won], a six seed [that won] and they’re going to be a two seed. So yes — I think they have a chance. I think anytime you have the speed they have on offense, you have a chance — [and] the way their defense communicates and comes together.”
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