2. Buccaneers vs. Chiefs
Week 12: at Tampa Bay (Sunday, Nov. 29, 4:25 p.m. ET)
Brady and Patrick Mahomes have already engaged in epic duels in their brief history against each other, and 2020 could be the final time unless the Buccaneers face the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. We’ll know if the Buccaneers are a contender in the NFC (or on the verge of competing for their first playoff berth since 2007) by Week 12, while the Chiefs are expected to be atop of the AFC — so this will be a good litmus test for Tampa.
George Kittle already is one of the biggest draft steals in 49ers history. And as far as the 2017 NFL Draft goes, it remains a joke he landed in San Francisco’s lap all the way in the fifth round.
The 49ers took the tight end with pick No. 146 in the draft. That might have been 144 picks too low, a.ka. the 49ers’ original draft slot before trading down one spot with the Chicago Bears and taking defensive end Solomon Thomas.
By Pro Football Focus’ three-year average of grades, Kittle has been the second-best player from the ‘17 draft, behind only Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Highest 3-year PFF grades on offense from the 2017 NFL Draft— PFF (@PFF) May 9, 2020
1. Patrick Mahomes - 93.7
2. George Kittle - 91.9
3. Chris Godwin - 90.8
3. Christian McCaffrey - 90.8 pic.twitter.com/5IvXL3ilv9
2. Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) vs. Lamar Jackson (Ravens)
Week 3: at Baltimore (Monday, Sept. 28, 8:15 p.m. ET)
The Week 3 matchup between Mahomes and Jackson last year was a classic, despite Jackson not having his best performance (51.2% completion rate, 267 yards, 0 TDs; eight carries, 46 yards, TD). Imagine how this game is going to go down in Baltimore, a year after Jackson took the league by storm in winning league MVP honors and Mahomes won Super Bowl MVP.
“We’re just trying our best to impact the people of Kansas City,” Mathieu said prior to the event. “We have a lot of beneficiaries in Kansas City that this Radiothon is really going to impact, so we’re hoping that the community can support it.”
Kansas City Chiefs: champs getting greedy?
Patrick Mahomes will one day sign an NFL-record contract; All-Pro Chris Jones may join Frank Clark as Chiefs $20M-per-year defensive linemen. The defending Super Bowl champions entered the draft with few needs, but they are light at cornerback. Although the Chiefs drafted corners in Rounds 4 and 7, going with Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Round 1 may be pushing it. The Chiefs will not be able to spend in free agency like they have during Mahomes’ rookie deal and probably needed to use its first-rounder on its defense. That said, it will be fun to watch the tackle-shedding dynamo in Andy Reid’s offense.
Kansas City Chiefs: Will anyone slow this roaming juggernaut?
The first hurdle is history itself. The NFL is unkind to Super Bowl champions, with no team repeating since New England pulled it off in 2003 and ‘04. Tom Brady’s on the short list of seven signal-callers to produce back-to-back titles, alongside John Elway, Troy Aikman, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw (twice), Bob Griese and Bart Starr. Outside of Brady, though, all that jazz happened a million years ago in a vastly different landscape. When Aaron Rodgers and the Pack knocked off the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, the question wasn’t if Green Bay would win another — just how many. It’s realistic to feel the same about a Chiefs warship that returns 20 of 22 starters and added a perfect-fit, do-everything running back in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Patrick Mahomes is unlike any quarterback we’ve seen, and Andy Reid spent last year slaying every career ghost that badgered him. The oft-maligned defense gave up the seventh-fewest points in 2019. Here in May, no visible weakness exists. Which AFC enemy will hatch an effective plot to outwit this seemingly unstoppable force of nature?
The Chiefs are listed at +400, with the Baltimore Ravens coming in second at +700 and the San Francisco 49ers (who lost in the Super Bowl) coming in third at +900.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski this offseason, and are listed in fourth at +1200. Then the Dallas Cowboys come in at five at +1300.
Around the NFL
According to Pro Football Reference’s uniform tracker, 110 players have worn the No. 1 in NFL history, but only 18 of them have been quarterbacks: Murray, Newton, Moon, Jeff George, Troy Smith, Don Majkowski, Randall Cunningham, Terrelle Pryor (but only as a wide receiver), Michael Vick, Kellen Clemens, Matt Stevens, B.J. Daniels, Joshua Dobbs, Danny Etling, Jim Hardy, Josh Johnson, Kyle Sloter and Josh Woodrum.
But what might be viewed as a masterful move by the NFL was actually more of a coincidence, aided in part by both teams having five prime-time games — a reflection of Brady’s popularity and intrigue with how the Patriots plan to replace him.
“Putting together the 256-game schedule is very complex — it’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email, when asked if the league had this Brady-Patriots dynamic in mind. “The minimal conflicts here are coincidental.”
“I prescribe to the approach of competitive fairness within our game, and that is everybody gets an opportunity,” Tomlin said in a conference call with reporters Saturday. “Our game is extremely competitive. It’s one of the things that make football at this level so attractive to our fans. I’m committed to preserving and protecting that, and so all teams getting an opportunity to start on the same footing is a core element of that.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
With that said, the next name on the list is one of just two Chiefs who were inducted into the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. (I’m ignoring players like Marcus Allen who only played a few seasons on the team). Tony Gonzalez is the best tight end of all time. He’s got more NFL career records than most tight ends have touchdown receptions. He may not have ended his career with the Chiefs — or had much postseason success — but the latter is an additional reason I rank him so highly. Gonzalez didn’t have Patrick Mahomes passing him the ball or Andy Reid scheming him open. For arguably every year he was on it, he was the best player on the team — and the only other Chief who can make that claim is likely to be Derrick Thomas.
A tweet to make you think
Most pass attempts beyond 20+ yards since 2018— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) May 10, 2020
Aaron Rodgers - 184
Patrick Mahomes - 155
Russell Wilson - 153
Baker Mayfield - 148 pic.twitter.com/FZkd337lZC
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