Stat to know: Mahomes has a 98 QBR when blitzed, the highest of any quarterback in a season since QBR was first tracked in 2006, and has thrown 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions when facing the blitz. He has been blitzed at the second-lowest rate in the league (20%), but Tampa Bay sends extra pass-rushers at the second-highest rate (42%) and has forced the most interceptions (seven) with its blitz.
What to know for fantasy: Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s best three performances this season have come in his past three games (85.9 fantasy points in those games). See Week 12 rankings.
Teicher’s pick: Chiefs 33, Buccaneers 26
Laine’s pick: Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 28
FPI prediction: KC, 56.4% (by an average of 2.2 points)
Joe Thomas: The Kansas City Chiefs hand the Buccaneers their second straight loss, marking the first time that they’ll suffer consecutive losses this season, behind the arm of Patrick Mahomes. The MVP candidate tosses for 350 yards and three touchdowns against Todd Bowles’ sixth-ranked overall defense.
3. Chiefs at Buccaneers
I know it’s dangerous to say it, but I think we’ve seen the beginning of the decline phase for Tom Brady. Or at least an acceleration of the decline phase. He’s playing in an offense in which Bruce Arians wants him to bomb the ball down the field, but his accuracy doing so has been missing. The Tampa offense still ranks eighth in DVOA, but it’s been trending in the wrong direction lately, and I have a hard time imagining that Brady will be able to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and the best offense in the NFL.
Projected score: Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 23
Best bet: Chiefs -3 (-115)
1. Deandre Baker, CB, Chiefs
While it may take a week or two for Baker to learn the nuances of the Chiefs’ scheme, he’s as talented as anyone in Kansas City’s cornerback room and will be fresh for the latter part of the regular season and playoffs, a nice boost for the Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.
Gonzalez retired following the 2013 season. Many pundits questioned his decision. After all, he still seemed to be at the peak of his powers, putting up numbers not that far off from his career averages. Soon after walking away from the game, Gonzalez took a position as an analyst on NFL Today, CBS’s pregame show. In 2017, he left CBS to take a similar position with FOX.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez has dedicated himself to the art of biohacking, finding ways to maximize his physical conditioning. From the looks of things, he’s found a winning formula. Back in April, he even tweeted a video of his football skills, playfully hinting that he was ready to make a comeback with the Chiefs. While that’s not too likely, the fact remains that Gonzalez looks as fit as ever.
Around the NFL
In a related change, should the Pittsburgh-Baltimore game be played as rescheduled on Tuesday, the Week 13 contest between Baltimore and Dallas — which was originally slated for Thursday — will be moved to Monday, Dec. 7 and will start at 5 p.m. ET. That game will be broadcast nationally on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon Prime.
The Week 12 match-up between fierce divisional rivals was originally slated for the primetime Thanksgiving slot, but was postponed to Sunday at 1:15 p.m. because of Baltimore’s COVID-19 issues. With that situation yet to be resolved, the league has again moved the game to a slot similar to the one that was also occupied by Buffalo and Tennessee in October because of a separate COVID-19 situation involving the Titans.
Team facilities will be closed to all in-person activities Monday and Tuesday, the NFL said Friday in a leaguewide memo.
The ban does not apply to teams scheduled to play on Monday or Tuesday.
The NFL cited the spike in coronavirus cases around the country as well as the “understanding that a number of players and staff celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with out-of-town guests” as reasons for closing facilities.
All activities will be conducted virtually except essential medical treatment and rehab, according to the memo.
The NFL Players Association also instructed players to alert teams if they had guests over the past several days for the purposes of additional testing when facilities reopen.
Winner: Alex Smith
In 2018, Smith was a good quarterback leading a good team. In 2020, he is a functional quarterback leading a team in playoff position via technicality. At 4-7, the Football Team has the same record as the Lions, but after Thursday we’ll talk about Washington as a success and Detroit as the football equivalent of nuclear reactor no. 4 at Chernobyl.
And Smith isn’t exactly lighting it up. He went 19-of-26 passing for 149 yards in Dallas, with those completion numbers boosted by a game plan that rarely required him to target players more than 3 yards downfield. Smith entered Week 12 ranked last among NFL starters in average depth of target (5.2 yards), and he likely lowered that figure after completing more passes to running backs and tight ends (11) than to wide receivers (eight). Washington won because rookie running back Antonio Gibson rushed for 115 yards with three touchdowns, averaging more yards per carry (5.8) than Smith did per pass attempt (5.7). The team’s longest completion of the day came on a trick play where tight end Logan Thomas threw the pass.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady was intercepted twice in the Rams game — and seven of Brady’s nine interceptions occurred against the Saints and Rams. Yet Brady has played brilliantly in other games. He threw for 369 yards and five touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4, another 369 yards and four touchdowns against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 7 and 341 yards and three touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10.
“I’m still trying to figure that out,” said Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, per the Associated Press. “At times we look really, really good — and then there are times where we obviously don’t.”
On Monday night, the Rams put strong pressure on Brady — another common factor in the Buccaneers’ 2020 losses — and rookie safety Jordan Fuller took advantage, coming up with both of the Rams’ interceptions. Los Angeles turned the first into a touchdown drive. The second — taken away from Buccaneers right end Cameron Bates during a two-minute drill in the fourth quarter — secured the Rams’ 27-24 victory.