Most Valuable Player: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
It’s a two-man race in many executives’ minds, but the final tally wasn’t close: The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes received 13 votes, beating out the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (six votes). “You can’t stop him,” an executive for an NFC team said of Mahomes, who won the MVP award two years ago. “He is the hardest player to stop in the league. Rodgers is right there. But this guy (Mahomes) — he makes the unique look routine. He’s unbelievable.” Mahomes’ 2020 campaign is just the fifth instance in NFL history of a QB posting at least 13 wins, 35 touchdown passes and fewer than 10 interceptions in a season; the other players to accomplish the feat (Tom Brady in 2007 and 2010, Rodgers in 2011 and Lamar Jackson last season) won the MVP award after those historic performances. Rodgers leads the NFL with 40 touchdown passes and a 118.0 passer rating, but Mahomes leads the league in passing yards (4,462) for the 13-1 Chiefs, who have played a tougher schedule based on opponent win percentage, particularly on the road. Mahomes arguably has better weapons overall, but multiple executives pointed out Rodgers’ offensive line is better. And as one exec for an AFC team put it in giving Mahomes the nod: “He’s just probably capable of a little more freaky s---.” Bills quarterback Josh Allen received two votes. Titans running back Derrick Henry got one.
Top 15 Offensive Players
1 -Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · QB
The best time to really evaluate great players is when they play against great teams, and Mahomes stayed patient and rode the rave against the Saints’ stout defense. Despite being sacked a season-high four times Sunday, his short memory and ability to hyperfocus in critical situations allowed the Chiefs to battle in the second half and ultimately come out victorious for their 22nd win in 23 games (including playoffs).
Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, John Brown, and Gabriel Davis
This quartet of offensive pass-catchers, combined with Isaiah McKenzie and Dawson Knox, have all provided Allen with his best core of receivers to date, speaking to the front office’s prerogative last offseason.
When they acquired Stefon Diggs for a first-round selection, which, as everyone knows turned into rookie standout receiver Justin Jefferson for the Minnesota Vikings, the Bills were chastised for giving up that kind of a package for Diggs. But the supposed prima-donna look that he was accused of displaying while with the Vikings has not shown up once in Orchard Park, turning this deal into a rare win-win for both sides.
With two weeks remaining, Kelce needs 18 receptions to match Zach Ertz’s tight end record of 116 in a season, set in 2018, and 59 receiving yards to match George Kittle’s record of 1,377, also set in 2018. Kelce also has 290.0 PPR fantasy points through 14 games, the most by any tight end in history through that many team games in a single season. That puts him on pace for 331.4 points, which would break Rob Gronkowski’s single-season record of 330.9, set in 2011.
In ESPN leagues, Kelce, who has a whopping 54.3-point lead over the No. 2 name at his position, and a 125.9-point advantage over No. 3, finds himself on a finalist’s roster in the greatest percentage of leagues: 38%. This comes after he was the second-most-common player found on ESPN playoff-qualifying teams.
Falcons at Chiefs (-10.5)
The Chiefs have been letting their opponents hang around over the second half of the year, so I’m not comfortable teasing them unless we’re getting them under 3.
Wyatt Davis OL
The Chiefs may be in need of interior line help in 2021, so they gladly stop Davis’ fall here.
His response should bring a smile to the face of any Chiefs fan from the last 50-plus years.
Christian Okoye smiled and said, “the Raiders” when asked who his favorite opponent was in his career with the Chiefs. Asked why, he said, “Because we beat them all the time.” And then he laughed.
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The criticisms are mounting after a third straight loss where Roethlisberger played one of the worst halves of his professional football career.
The noise, though, is warranted, the quarterback said Wednesday.
“I don’t blame them,” he said. “When you play like poo, you should get talked about like that. I need to play better. If I’m not giving them a reason to talk good, then I’m giving them a reason to talk bad. That’s all on me. I need to play better.”
Lock has been one of the NFL’s least efficient passers this season, despite general manager John Elway using premium draft capital to bolster Denver’s passing game on receivers Jerry Jeudy (first round) and KJ Hamler (second round). Lock’s struggles this year have instigated a conversation over whether or not the Broncos should explore adding a new starter this offseason. The Broncos are currently on pace to pick 13th in the 2021 NFL draft; out of range to take Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, but potentially in position to select a promising player like Florida’s Kyle Trask. Other top QB’s, like BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, or Ohio State’s Justin Fields will likely be out of range for Denver—but if one of those players slips, it’ll be difficult for Elway to pass.
From Gary (@NotTheP0lice): If Matt Stafford were to be traded this offseason, which team(s) would be the likeliest? Thanks!
Gary, I love the idea of another team pursuing Stafford in an Alex Smith–in-2013 kind of way. Granted, Smith was a little younger (Smith was 29 on Opening Day 2013, Stafford will be 33 at the start of next year). But Stafford can absolutely be the sort of ultra-placeholder that Smith was—a quarterback you can win with, and build with, while casually keeping the door open for getting aggressive at some point to draft one you truly love.
One, it allowed for the roster to be built up to the point where picks could be viewed as disposable assets. In other words, because Reid and Dorsey had built it up for five years, there weren’t a slew of pressing needs that would be harder to address with the picks going out the door. Two, it ensured Mahomes was entering a healthy situation. K.C. had the leeway to sit him for a year, and then the infrastructure to support him when he did play. And three, Smith gave the Chiefs the freedom to wait for something truly special to surface.
That’s why I think a team like New England, which has a lot of problems to fix, would do well to get Stafford. It’s also why I could see Stafford being attractive to a team like Washington, which now has a nice foundation to build off of and might not be picking high enough to get a QB it’s truly smitten with. And, to me, it’s enough reason to make keeping Stafford an attractive option for whoever winds up getting the Detroit job.
New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who has established himself as one of the NFL’s top young linemen, is done for the season with a concussion and a neck injury.
Williams, 23, will be placed on injured reserve as soon as he clear the league’s concussion protocol, according to coach Adam Gase.
The concussion occurred late in the third quarter of last Sunday’s stunning upset of the Los Angeles Rams, which likely cost the Jets the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Williams, caught on camera as he walked to the locker room for an evaluation, was seen vomiting on the sideline.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Willie Gay Jr.
The absence of Damien Wilson hasn’t done all too much to help the snap count of Willie Gay Jr. the way most Chiefs fans would have hoped. A Week 17 game with starters resting could mean that Steve Spagnuolo can throw Gay into the fire for the duration of the game. The Chiefs have largely kept the training wheels on their rookie linebacker — seemingly limiting his responsibilities and roles as he acclimates to the NFL. This could be a chance to see how ready he is for more in 2021 and beyond. The talent is so obvious with Gay, but perhaps we’ll find out what he’s capable of with more of a sample size.
From NFL Now: There are new rules for how and when coaches can be interviewed for vacant head coaching jobs. A look at why pic.twitter.com/Ux6NJQjWgm— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 23, 2020