“I feel that I’m [an improved quarterback], 100 percent,” he says. “I mean, obviously the stats aren’t the same. I don’t have 50 touchdowns, 5,000 yards, or whatever it was. But as far as positive plays vs. negative plays, I’ve done a lot more, just being higher on positive plays and not putting myself in negative situations.”
On third-and-18 yards or more this season, the Chiefs quarterback has completed 10 of 11 passes for almost 21 yards per attempt. He has five first downs, three touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
This is a good weekend to learn lessons about quarterbacks. Jackson is as dynamic a player as there is in the league. Mahomes is still among the greats, even if his numbers have dipped. FiveThirtyEight’s Josh Hermsmeyer made the point that Mahomes’s performance in stable metrics, like QBR inside the pocket, is generally on par with last season, while he’s dipped in unstable metrics such as red zone performance. The payoff here is that Mahomes is essentially as skilled as he was a year ago when he was the best player in football. Tannehill is not nearly as good a quarterback as the other three left in the AFC, but his team has surrounded him with playmakers, a creative offensive coordinator, and a running back who bullies people. Tannehill has been one of the top passers in the sport this year with a 117.5 rating.
“My dad will be like, ‘I was watching your last couple of kicks from the past game and the ball was doing this,’” Butker said with a chuckle. “He’s always making comments about stuff, but it’s good.
“It keeps me humble, especially if I’ve had a couple of good weeks and I’m feeling good. He’ll notice something in there that’s a little off, and sometimes when I think I’m struggling, he’ll tell me I’m doing great. So, it kind of balances out.”
The Chiefs’ pass defense has quietly improved to one of the best in the NFL. Their rushing defense, not so much. They are 29th, according to DVOA. The Texans need to turn these rushing yards into points. When you’re rushing the ball at a high success, it makes third down shorter and, in theory, easier to convert.
The Texans are eighth in the NFL on third down, and first in the NFL in passing EPA on third-and-short (1-4 yards). On the flip side, the Chiefs are 24th in EPA defending in this situation. So, if the Texans can run the ball to get shorter third downs, they can keep this game close.
The Chiefs also have another free agent coming due on the other side of the ball in stud defensive lineman Chris Jones, who has 24.5 sacks and 49 knockdowns in 29 games over the past two seasons. Jones ranks sixth in sacks and fifth in knockdowns over that time frame, with numbers in the ballpark of guys such as Von Miller and Cam Jordan. The Chiefs have let young defensive contributors such as Dee Ford and Dontari Poe leave in recent years, and it is possible they franchise Jones in advance of a trade; but it is more likely Jones ends up getting the second massive extension the Chiefs hand out in 2020.
2. 49ers vs. Chiefs
Odds of happening: 4.15-to-1
The Super Bowl is on Fox this year, and I have to think that there’s nothing they would love more than having Patrick Mahomes going up against one of the NFL’s most storied franchises in the 49ers. If this game happened, a win over the Chiefs would give the 49ers their sixth Super Bowl win in franchise history, which would tie the Steelers and Patriots for the most all-time.
5) Week 11, 2018: Los Angeles Rams 54, Kansas City Chiefs 51
I covered the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League. I’m involved with the Madden community and even hosted Madden NFL Live on NFL Network. Even by the amped-up standards of those enterprises, this game was bananas. Mostly because, after all that scoring, it came down to a pair of defensive plays by the Rams’ Marcus Peters and Lamarcus Joyner, who each intercepted Mahomes on consecutive series after Goff’s go-ahead 40-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Everett with 1:49 left in the game.
Over/Under ( ?)
The projected total has moved up to 50.5 points, the highest total on the board in the second round. Both teams have been going Under the total a lot lately, and while the loss of Thornhill is a big one, the improved Kansas City defense should be able to prevent this from becoming a shootout. UNDER 50.5 (-106) looks like the side to take.
Around the NFL
Ingram did not appear to favor his injured calf when doing some light running and performing high knee kicks on the sideline during the special-teams portion of practice. No offensive drills were run in the 30-minute media viewing period.
“The only culture we’re going to have in the building is a winning culture. Period,” Judge said. “And what that means is everybody comes to work every day regardless of how they feel and puts the team first. Period. Whatever you have going on outside the building, you’re sick, a little bit of pain, you’re discomfort, you’re upset, you’re mad, you put all of that aside. You come in, you put the team first. We’re going to ask our players at times to do things that necessarily may not be what they have in mind for themselves. But if it’s best for the team they have to be willing to go forward with it cause that’s what a winning culture is.”
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of being here [in Dallas],” Cobb told me. “I love these guys in the locker room -- going to work with them every day was a lot of fun. We had our ups and downs and we continued to fight through everything that we went through. I really enjoyed every moment. I think my wife and my family did as well.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
Prior to September, the Chiefs had not used the scheme since their final game in Municipal Stadium on December 25, 1971 — the famous double-overtime playoff loss to the Miami Dolphins. It was commonly used during the years the team played at the old stadium — including, of course, the championship season 50 years ago.
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