The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported this week there will be a rotation for each team’s 17th game.
Re: 17-game slate, the inter-conference rotation for '21 ...— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 28, 2020
Full crossover: NFC East/AFC West, NFC North/AFC North, NFC South/AFC East, NFC West, AFC South.
1-game crossover (1 v. 1, 2 v. 2, etc.): NFC East/AFC East, NFC North/AFC West, NFC South/AFC South, NFC West/AFC North.
With the AFC West-NFC North rotation set to kick things off, that means the Chiefs would be facing the Packers, who already have won the North division.
The Chiefs lead the all-time series 7-5-1, but Green Bay has won the last two meetings. That includes last season’s “Sunday Night Football” contest at Arrowhead Stadium. Mahomes was out because of a dislocated kneecap, but the Chiefs nearly got the victory, losing 31-24.
“I’m happy that he broke my record because it gives me something else to go after again next year,” Kittle said, via Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. “That’s what I’m looking forward to. I think he’s going to continue to break records, he’s going to continue to set the bar. It gives all of us other tight ends something else to chase.”
In the past 10 years, eight NFL teams have earned this same position — the No. 1 overall seed completely locked up before the Week 17 schedule kicked off. Eight teams, in other words, had the opportunity for the double bye ... if they so wished.
If you’re inclined to believe history is more of an indicator than it is coincidence, well, those who rested starters for the game’s entirety haven’t fared so well. Like, at all.
Three of the eight teams handled the regular season finale the way it appears the Chiefs are approaching the game. They sat top starters, including their quarterback, the entire game.
Four straddled the fence, letting the starters play one or two quarters before pulling them, something like a preseason game.
And just one of the eight opted to play everyone, even with nothing to play for, citing momentum as the motivating reason.
The worst track record among the bunch? Those teams who left their quarterbacks and top starters on the bench for the entire game in Week 17.
Playoff/draft picture: The Chiefs have locked up both the AFC West and the No. 1 seed in the conference. They will receive both home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and a wild-card round bye. The Chargers, meanwhile, are 33.5% likely to lock up a top-10 draft pick for April. FPI currently has them picking at No. 10.
Injuries: Chargers | Chiefs
What to know for fantasy: Los Angeles running back Austin Ekeler has scored over seven fantasy points as a pass-catcher in four of his five games since returning to action in Week 12. S
Betting nugget: Since 1990, teams that have previously clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs are 9-23 ATS in Week 17 games.
Smith’s pick: Chargers 24, Chiefs 21
Teicher’s pick: Chargers 26, Chiefs 20
FPI prediction: KC, 65.5% (by an average of 5.3 points)
L.A. Chargers (6-9) at Kansas City (14-1)
Los Angeles Chargers -3.5
Don’t bet on this game. Why? Well for starters, betting on the Chargers is a fool’s errand. And secondly, the Chiefs are going to sit Patrick Mahomes, and Tyreek Hill won’t be playing, as he’s already been ruled out. It’s just flirting with disaster. I’d grab the points because the depth on the Chiefs roster is so good they should be able to hang, but only if I’m required to pick a winner like I am here.
The Pick: Chiefs 21, Chargers 17
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3) Fields will get an even bigger stage in 10 days against a better team with a much better secondary. He now has the same opportunity Deshaun Watson had (and seized) four years ago: A chance to beat a Nick Saban-coached defense as your potential final closing statement on your college career.
4) Lawrence is still a special player with a rare combination of size, athletic ability and arm talent. He was not at his best against Ohio State, but I don’t think it was the type of performance (33 of 48 for 400 yards with 2 TDs and an INT) that will jeopardize his standing with NFL evaluators. Keep in mind that there is no perfect prospect, and Friday marked just the second loss of his college career.
Lawrence came out hot. He won the foot race against Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning to the pylon on a zone read for the first score of the game, capping off an eight-play, 82-yard drive. Clemson couldn’t find much of a rhythm after that, though.
1. Derrick Henry hits 2,000 rushing yards
The NFL’s leading rusher enters Week 17 with 1,777 yards on the ground. That means he needs a whopping 223 against the Texans on Sunday to become just the eighth member of the 2,000-yard club. Sounds like a lot until you realize Henry’s had four 200-yard games in the last three years, including two this season, and will be up against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. He’s eclipsed 223 yards just once (against the Jaguars), but Tennessee needs to win and will have every reason to run him into the ground.
Garrett has rebounded from the disgraceful early finish to the 2019 season, playing well in 2020 and avoiding any further issues. He has not attempted to mend fences with Rudolph, according to the quarterback.
“He has not reached out to me in any capacity,” Rudolph told Steelers reporters Friday, via Cleveland.com. “I’m happy to hear Myles out. If he wants to approach me, wants to talk.”
If they don’t get the bye, the Saints will open the playoffs either next Saturday or Sunday. The NFL isn’t expected to announce the wild card schedule until this Sunday, but if the Saints draw a Saturday date, Kamara wouldn’t be permitted to play.
Losing Kamara is a big blow, since he has arguably been the Saints’ MVP this year while fellow stars Drew Brees and Michael Thomas have missed time with injuries. Thomas (ankle) is expected to return from injured reserve next week, but the Saints have only had their “Big Three” in the lineup together for 10 quarters all season.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The 2019 third-round pick has been active for all of two games this season. Rookie undrafted free agent Tershawn Wharton has taken his place on game day and has performed well. Saunders should get a chance on Sunday to show why he was taken in the top 100 just a year ago. And he needs to — the 3-tech role is pretty full right now between Chris Jones and Wharton eating up the available snaps.
A year removed from averaging over 20 yards per reception, the second-year receiver has seen more targets but has been more inefficient with his opportunities. We’ve seen less conversions down the field than we did last year — forcing more manufactured touches and run after the catch in an attempt to get him involved in the offense. The Chiefs have struggled to integrate Hardman when their offense is healthy. He’s had more success when Tyreek Hill wasn’t on the field and will likely get a chance to play in that role on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if Hardman can show development as a receiver.