1) Buffalo is the biggest AFC threat to Kansas City
Buffalo beat Pittsburgh because Buffalo is better than Pittsburgh. I know what the records said entering this Sunday Night Football matchup, which pitted the 11-1 Steelers against the 9-3 Bills, but if you’d been paying attention to recent results, Buffalo’s 26-15 win was hardly a surprise.
The Bills’ defense was excellent, limiting the Steelers to 224 total yards and a 1-for-10 conversion rate on third down. Taron Johnson’s pick-six right before halftime changed the game. On offense, Josh Allen continued to show off his rare skill set, leaning on bountiful trade acquisition Stefon Diggs (10 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown) much of the evening. Sean McDermott’s team is buttoned up. Brandon Beane put together a fantastic club that can beat anyone. Buffalo has earned this 10-3 record.
Meanwhile, Mike Tomlin’s team cannot run the ball at all. They can’t catch the ball. Ben Roethlisberger looks fatigued, short-arming passes. The defense misses Bud Dupree and Devin Bush. Pittsburgh’s record is impressive, but the team just isn’t. It’ll be tough to believe in these Steelers come playoff time. In fact, I expect Pittsburgh to have its hands full with Indianapolis and Cleveland down the stretch. The Colts and Browns can absolutely win those games in the regular season’s final fortnight.
Loser: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
The MVP race has been quite interesting this season because nobody seems to want the hardware.
The Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson emerged as the early front-runner before stumbling a bit along the way. The Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray entered the conversation for a hot minute. Then it looked like Mahomes would run away with the award for a second time until the Chiefs met the Miami Dolphins.
From an overall perspective, the Chiefs won Sunday’s contest. Mahomes threw for a whopping 393 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In fact, Kanas City is now 8-1 after trailing by 10 or more points with Mahomes under center, per ESPN’s Field Yates.
Mahomes presumably won’t care about falling behind the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers in the MVP race, but the reigning Super Bowl MVP certainly won’t be happy that he threw three interceptions against Miami. He won’t like what the coaching staff will have to say about the Dolphins sacking him for an inexcusable 30-yard loss, either.
Comparatively, Rodgers improved to a 39-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio during Green Bay’s division-clinching victory over the Detroit Lions.
Mahomes is great, but he’s not perfect. He shouldn’t be off-limits when he deserves a little criticism.
For the last five weeks, the Chiefs’ games have all come down to one score. Each week there has been a moment of indefinable coolness, in Sunday’s case a critical fourth-and-1 conversion, that snapped both the offense’s mechanical and maniacal nature into autopilot for a snippet of brilliance. The rest of the time, they have shown they can survive half asleep. The Dolphins, an ideal bellwether opponent that represents the kind of versatile defensive challenges Kansas City will face en route to a title repeat, was hopeless the moment Mahomes took a snap, rolled out to his armada of offensive weapons and found one of the best receivers in the league (Tyreek Hill) with room to run. There are precious few teams in modern history that can conjure a yard in a situation like that with such regularity.
Loser: Great Defensive Performances Against Patrick
This was one of Mahomes’s worst games ever. It was only his second career three-interception game—and he threw six touchdowns in the other. It was only the third time he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and the first since 2018. And guess what? It didn’t matter! The Dolphins jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but before long, it was 21-10 Chiefs. Mahomes finished with 393 passing yards in a 33-27 win.
The Packers and Chiefs met in the very first Super Bowl, and they almost got their first rematch last season—53 years later. The Packers lost the NFC Championship game last year to the San Francisco 49ers, who lost the Super Bowl to the Chiefs.
After Sunday’s games, the Packers hold the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the Chiefs lead the AFC.
Green Bay is tied with the New Orleans Saints with identical 10-3 records, but the Packers hold the head-to-head advantage from earlier this season. The Packers have a favorable schedule over the next three games with home contests against the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans before a season-ending road trip to Chicago.
1c. And keep an eye on Kansas City’s run game, held to fewer than 100 yards in four of its last six contests. It may really miss postseason hero Damien Williams, who opted out of the season due to COVID-19 considerations, this January.
2. Mahomes’ rough day at the office may shift momentum in the MVP race to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who’s already won the award twice, after he threw a trifecta of TD passes in a 31-24 win at Detroit – one that clinched the NFC North for Green Bay while vaulting the Pack to the top of the conference standings.
Super Bowl–winning Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes presented his pal and teammate Tyrann Mathieu with a PETA Humanitarian Award in honor of his efforts to save dogs from dying of heatstroke inside parked cars in the summer and freezing in backyards in the winter.
“Being in the NFL has given me some amazing opportunities, but the most important one is using my platform for positive change. I have a teammate who is doing just that. I am so proud of the videos he’s done for PETA, working to get animals out there treated with respect. He is not only an asset to our team but to animals who need protection,” said Mahomes in his presentation.
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Why the Ravens won
First and foremost, they dominated on the ground. We all knew, coming in, that Cleveland could run the ball, but the Ravens all but regained their 2019 form under the lights, with Lamar Jackson unleashing several big scrambles to pace both sides and both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins ripping off steady gains all night. Despite missing a few wide-open deep shots to Mark Andrews and only throwing 17 passes, Jackson was also surprisingly deadly through the air, connecting with Andrews and Marquise Brown for game-altering big plays, including a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown. His return from an extended trip to the locker room saved the day, injecting instant dynamism into their attack. Defensively, Batimore’s corners actually did a fine job keeping things in front of them early on, and by the time they wore down in the second half, Greg Roman’s ground game was already firing on all cylinders. Justin Tucker, meanwhile, remained clutch with a perfect 55-yard field goal to seal it.
Score Update:— Scorigami (@NFL_Scorigami) December 15, 2020
BAL 47 - 42 CLE
That's Scorigami!! It's the 1061st unique final score in NFL history.
“After going through the film and really looking back even to last week and the preparation and everything, I’m going to continue with Jalen this week as the starter,” he said.
Backup and former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins ”will be ready” to play in the event Smith cannot, Rivera said. Haskins completed 7 of 12 pass attempts for 51 yards in the defensively dominated victory over the 49ers.
Smith is in the middle of writing an incredible chapter in a truly unbelievable comeback story that includes his gruesome leg injury suffered in 2018, 17 surgeries to repair the injury and then save his leg and life as infection raged through him, and a long, grueling rehab that led him back to the team almost in an honorary form. When Washington realized Haskins wasn’t the answer, and backup Kyle Allen was knocked out for the season, Smith went from honorary to counted upon, and he’s largely delivered.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
After the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Miami Dolphins 33-27 on Sunday afternoon, the Chiefs were AFC West champions for the fifth consecutive season. It wasn’t an accomplishment that head coach Andy Reid wanted to take lightly.
“They don’t give those away,” he told reporters in Miami. “They give the hats away, but they don’t give these championships away. So I’m proud of the guys for that.”
Reid acknowledged that there is still work to be done in order for the team to bring home another Super Bowl championship, but that what the team has accomplished this far deserves recognition.
“It’s a nice accomplishment by the whole organization,” he said. “This isn’t one person or anything else. This is a whole organization — from the Hunt family down to [team president] Mark Donovan and [general manager] Brett Veach. Everybody has had a piece of this.”