Travis Kelce should have asked for WR1 money
In August, Travis Kelce inked a four-year, $57 million extension, which was the second-largest tight end contract in terms of total value and average per year ($14.3 million). Only George Kittle earns more money at the position than Kelce. And yet, the Chiefs’ six-time Pro Bowler is still severely underpaid.
On Sunday, Kelce broke the NFL’s single-season receiving record by a tight end, reaching 1,416 yards on the year to surpass Kittle’s mark (1,377) from 2018. The two-time All-Pro currently leads the entire NFL in receiving yards and could become the first player at his position to do so for a full season in the Super Bowl era.
With one game remaining, Kelce already has 105 receptions and 11 TDs to go along with his record-breaking yardage. The last player to hit 100 receptions, 1,400 receiving yards and 10 receiving TDs in a season was wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in 2018. Now, Hopkins is making $27.3 million per year, which is almost double Kelce’s annual average. Is it too soon to renegotiate?
The decision to sit starters likely means Mahomes plays very little, if at all. That probably ends the MVP conversation, because Aaron Rodgers has taken a big lead in the race and Mahomes can’t catch him if he doesn’t play.
We’re dealing with a small sample size, but this current iteration of the Ravens offense is producing like the 2019 team that we all thought was capable of winning the Super Bowl. Lamar Jackson is certainly “back,” as he ranks second in EPA per play since Week 11. With the defense still playing at a high level — it ranked eighth in Defensive DVOA coming into the week — it might be time to add them to the list of threats to the Chiefs.
That said, I can’t help but notice some striking differences between Kelce’s record-setting season this year and Kittle’s history-making 2018. First of all, Kittle only needed 88 catches to break the record that Rob Gronkowski set in 2011. Kelce has 105 this year, and even Gronk needed 90 when he set the record.
At Coach’s Bar & Grill on College Boulevard, Royals and Chiefs sports memorabilia can be seen almost nearly everywhere. But the autographed Travis Kelce jersey that greeted customers is gone, stolen overnight.
“It was the first piece of artwork up in the whole building,” Katie Ramirez, a manager at Coach’s Bar & Grill, said.
The Chargers have allowed more than 130 rushing yards in four of their last five games, and they are ranked 21st, as teams have rushed for 124.4 yards per game.
LA’s passing defense is allowing an average of 224.1 yards per game, which is ranked eighth in the NFL. They have 26 sacks, which is 25th in the NFL. Star Joey Bosa missed Sunday’s game after suffering a concussion.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill said earlier this season he would never have to “pull a DK Metcalf” — chasing down a defender to save a play after an interception — because his quarterback doesn’t throw picks. As if it was scripted, not long after the statement, Hill had to do just that.
7. Several young players stepped up for the Chiefs’ defense on Sunday.
Kansas City was already without starting linebackers Damien Wilson and Anthony Hitchens on Sunday, and to complicate matters further, fellow linebacker Ben Niemann was injured midway through the contest. That meant extended playing time for rookie linebackers Willie Gay Jr., Darius Harris and Omari Cobb, and they certainly made the most of it.
Gay Jr. led the team with nine tackles and earned the second-highest defensive grade on the squad, per PFF, trailing only Jones. He also teamed up with Harris to take the ball away late in the game, as Gay Jr. punched the ball free from Falcons’ wide receiver Brandon Powell and Harris was there to scoop it up.
Chiefs pass rush creates escape route
An out-of-sync Chiefs offense — by their standards — needed help Sunday, and their pass rush provided just enough. On the heels of a bizarre Pro Bowl nod, Frank Clark registered a sack and three hits on Ryan. Chris Jones had a sack and four hits. Blossoming rookie D-back L’Jarius Sneed came through with a sack and a forced fumble. En route to the first 14-win season in team history, Kansas City (14-1) hit Ryan 12 times to interrupt an otherwise quality road effort. The Chiefs’ plus-128 point differential does not match up with their record, but they now essentially have two weeks to prepare for an imposing title defense.
CHIEFS GRADE: B-minus | NEXT: vs. Chargers (Sun.)
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“I feel fully confident to be the head coach of the Eagles in 2021,” he said during his radio appearance on 94.1 WIP on Monday morning. “The thing I’m most proud of, this football team, we have been in the postseason three of the last five years since I’ve been here, and that’s pretty good. We have won a championship here. We have gone through a season where a lot of our veteran guys are not playing due to injury. We are playing with a lot of young players.
“There is always going to be evaluation in the offseason, and my job is evaluated as well. But I fully expect to be the coach next season, and I welcome the opportunity to get things right, get things fixed and take this team into next season.”
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is hoping to be back for the playoffs, but his team will have to get there first without him. Goff underwent surgery on his broken and dislocated right thumb on Monday and is hoping he can return for the postseason, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
Goff will miss the team’s regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, with John Wolford getting the start, coach Sean McVay announced on Monday. McVay added that Bryce Perkins will be the No. 2 QB and the team is planning on bringing back Blake Bortles off of the Denver Broncos’ practice squad.
Baltimore clinches playoff berth with:
BAL win OR
CLE loss OR
IND loss OR
BAL tie + MIA loss OR
BAL tie + TEN loss OR
BAL tie + CLE tie OR
BAL tie + IND tie
In a statement, Washington coach Ron Rivera said he met with Haskins on Monday to inform him of his decision.
“I told him that I believe it benefits both parties that we go our separate ways. We want to thank Dwayne for his contributions these last two seasons and wish him well moving forward.”
In a tweet, Haskins wrote: “I take full responsibility for not meeting the standards of a NFL QB & will become a better man & player because of this experience.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
3. The defense can find a time to shine
The Chiefs’ defense picked exactly the right time to show they do have the ability to hold an opposing team to fewer points than the standard they have set for themselves. They may have failed a number of times since then, but they succeeded on Sunday — and did it against a pretty good offense that was expected to come out and put up a lot of points.
To be sure, they did give up a couple of bad drives. Still, their performance was well within the range that defines success for an NFL defense.
They did it by putting heavy pressure against a depleted Falcons offensive line — and making plays at the right moments. The most critical of these was after Mahomes’ third-quarter interception that gave Atlanta the ball at midfield. Consecutive sacks by Chris Jones and Frank Clark forced a three-and-out, keeping the Falcons from taking advantage of a golden opportunity to seize the game’s momentum. Without that stand, Atlanta likely would have left town with a victory against the world champions.
And it’s worth noting that the defense pulled this off while missing key starters at the second level. You may not personally think much of Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson or Ben Niemann, but these are the guys who have been leading this defense — one which has been among the NFL’s top 10 all season. The first two were out for the game. The third left with an injury before halftime.
It was a defensive performance in which Chiefs fans should take pride. And the fact that it took place in what might be the last time we’ll see some of the unit’s core players until mid-January — when the stakes will be even higher — was a good sign.
I look into my teammates eyes and we all feel like we haven’t done enough. Looking for improvement, only looking forward to playing one game at a time. Trying to be the best we can be every time! It’s takes everyone, including the people you least expect.... https://t.co/V6DRWpB5fA— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) December 28, 2020