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What we learned about the Chiefs in Week 18

Taking a look at the week of January 4 on Arrowhead Pride...

NFL: DEC 27 Falcons at Chiefs Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

5 winners and 4 losers from the Chiefs’ loss to the Chargers

After the Los Angeles Chargers cruised to a 38-21 defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs’ reserve players, Pete Sweeney’s rapid reaction went through the game’s good, bad and concerning aspects, the Arrowhead Pride Nerd Squad had three big takeaways from the regular-season finale and Matt Stagner picked the winners and losers from what had amounted to a preseason contest.

Winners

Byron Pringle: Once again, the K-State product delivered when his number was called. A strong receiver who attacks the ball in the air and can really run as well, Pringle should be in line for more opportunities on the offense. Then again... that’s what we say every time we see Pringle play.

Darwin Thompson: 21 touches, 110 total yards and two touchdowns. That’s solid production from the little guy. It was nice to see the team get him involved in the passing game, where he converted all seven of his targets — including a 37-yard catch-and-run. He’s great in space and stout for his size. He might be the most Clyde-like backup on the roster.

Playoff Scenarios: Who the Chiefs could play in the AFC Divisional round

With all eyes on the postseason — where the Chiefs already possessed the AFC’s first seed and only bye week — we made the calculations to figure out which team the Chiefs would be most likely to face in the Divisional round.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s ELO model, the Bills have a 76% probability to win over the Colts. The Steelers will have a 62% chance of beating the Browns, while the Ravens would win 57% of the time against the Titans.

After we do the math with those probabilities, here’s what we get:

Opponent Chance
Titans 20%
Ravens 27%
Browns 29%
Colts 24%

As you can see, there isn’t a clear favorite here. In round terms, there’s about a 1-in-4 to 1-in-5 chance of playing each one of these teams — mostly because of the relatively small advantage ELO projects for the Ravens over the Titans.

Eric Bieniemy reportedly set to interview with two teams this week

As expected, the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator became a leading candidate for open NFL head coaching jobs. As the week began, we knew of at least two teams that were interested.

The interview process once again begins on Monday. Bieniemy will reportedly start with the Atlanta Falcons, who will interview him on Zoom, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Falcons said goodbye to Dan Quinn earlier this year.

As Rapoport also notes, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Rober Saleh will also interview with the Falcons on Monday. Bieniemy and Saleh are also expected to interview with the Detroit Lions, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.

By Tuesday, more teams were expressing interest or requesting interviews. We set up an Eric Bieniemy head coach hiring tracker for all the latest updates.

Andy Reid provides rather positive update on cornerback Deandre Baker

The Chiefs didn’t escape Sunday’s game unscathed. After the game, head coach Andy Reid talked about injuries to three players who were considered likely to play roles in the postseason: linebacker Willie Gay and cornerback Rashad Fenton — both of whom suffered ankle injuries — and Baker, who had broken the femur of his left leg. By the noon hour on Monday, surgery had already been performed on Baker’s broken bone — and the head coach said the former first-round pick was even back in the team’s facility.

While Reid was careful to remind his listeners that he is not a medical doctor, he said that Baker’s prognosis is good.

“If you had to have a break, I guess this was the break to have — because it fit back together well. I think full recovery — unless there are any setbacks — is going to be a beautiful thing down the road. He’ll still be able to play and do the things he did before.”

Still... it will be a long recovery. Baker will certainly be unable to play for the remainder of this season. But it’s distinctly possible he could be back for 2021.

Three Chiefs make PFF’s All-Pro list for 2020

On Tuesday, we covered the list of NFL All-Pros created by Pro Football Focus writer Sam Monson. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and defensive tackle Chris Jones made the first team — but it was the one who made the second team that raised eyebrows.

QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Second Team: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

The Aaron Rodgers Revenge Tour just kept on trucking all season long, reminding people that he was once the transcendent quarterback talent redefining the game in the same way Mahomes is right now.

Rodgers’ touchdown to interception ratio (48:6) speaks for itself, but it’s backed up by an equally impressive big-time throw to turnover-worthy play ratio (43:11). And yes, Rodgers had one awful game against Tampa Bay, but outside of that, he just kept cooking relentlessly in his best season since 2014, and arguably the finest of his career. Mahomes and even Josh Allen ran Rodgers close, but he was a clear choice in the end.

Here we have the whole MVP race wrapped up in two paragraphs. Let’s be honest: as Monson’s numbers show, Rodgers has had a fantastic season. If the league’s MVP is defined simply as the NFL quarterback who has the season’s best statistics, Rodgers absolutely deserves to be in the conversation. But if it is instead supposed to be the league’s most valuable player — that is, the player who has made more of a difference than any other — then we all know who deserves it the most.

Arrowhead advantage: NFL decisions made this week set stage for success

Also on Tuesday, Pete Sweeney looked back at the key decisions that have led to a Chiefs Super Bowl victory, five straight AFC West titles and a franchise record 14-2 mark in 2020.

Reid and Dorsey overturned the roster in 2013, trading for Alex Smith, giving the Chiefs stability at sports’ most important position for the first time since Trent Green. Dorsey drafted Eric Fisher and Travis Kelce — and found The Magnificent Seven.

Under Reid’s guidance, the organization’s culture had instantly changed for the better. Reid and Dorsey rebuilt the team’s foundation from 2013 to 2017 — and during the 2017 offseason, Hunt made another difficult decision by saying goodbye to Dorsey for a homegrown Reid talent: Brett Veach. Veach had started as Reid’s coaching intern in Philadelphia in 2004, followed Reid to Kansas City as a personnel analyst in 2013 and had been the co-director of player personnel prior to his promotion to general manager.

Reid credits Veach with finding quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Texas Tech product who had bad mechanics and threw from too many different arm angles. Dorsey executed a key trade with the Buffalo Bills on draft night — and the rest, as they say, is history.

One of the NFL’s oddest records is safe for another season

Once Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson had finished the season as the NFL’s passing-yards leader — while playing for a team that it is out of the playoffs — we knew that for the 55th straight season, the title-holder would not win the Super Bowl. On Wednesday, we examined why this record has remained unbroken for so long.

Look no further than Watson and the Texans to find part of the answer. Despite Watson leading the league in passing yards, the Texans finished the season 4-12 — and since they aren’t in the NFC East, they had no chance to make the playoffs. The passing yards leader often plays for an inferior team but has put up a lot of passing yards trying to come back in games the team ended up losing anyway.

But being the passing yards leader doesn’t necessarily mean you play for a bad team. Sometimes these high-volume quarterbacks play for good teams that make the playoffs — and sometimes even the Super Bowl. Twice — in 2017 and 2007 — Tom Brady led the league in passing yards, but the New England Patriots lost in the championship game. Peyton Manning played in (and lost) the Super Bowl after the 2013 season, in which he led the league. It happened to Dan Marino, Kurt Warner and Rich Gannon in 1984, 2001 and 2002.

Report: Chiefs signing punter Dustin Colquitt to practice squad

On Thursday, an old friend returned to the fold.

The Kansas City Chiefs are signing punter Dustin Colquitt to their practice squad, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

After being released by the Chiefs following 15 years of service, Colquitt, 38, signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in September — only to be let go in late October. Colquitt caught on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad on December 18.

In need of a punter because theirs was ill before their last game, the Jacksonville Jaguars poached Colquitt and added him to their 53-man roster, but they waived him earlier this week — thus opening the door for the Chiefs.

Five Chiefs named as 2020 AP All-Pros

On Friday, we learned that five Chiefs had received postseason honors from the Associated Press.

Five Kansas City Chiefs have been named to the Associated Press All-Pro team for the 2020 season — including three first-teamers.

Tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and safety Tyrann Mathieu were named to the AP first team. The Associated Press also noted that Kelce was one of two unanimous choices for the 50 voters. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was the other.

Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones were named second-team All-Pros.