I wrote last week about the four NFL teams that have seen their playoff odds improve most this season, as measured by ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). Let’s go in the opposite direction and take a look at the teams whose chances of making it into the postseason have fallen off most significantly since the season began. If you like optimistic, sunny outlooks about your favorite team, this might not be the column for you.
As you can probably guess, one of the four teams whose playoff odds have declined most since Week 1 is the Kansas City Chiefs, who have fallen from virtual locks to worse than a coin flip. They began the season with an 89.2% chance to make another postseason run and now sit at just 43.2% after a 3-4 start.
Kansas City Chiefs 30-22 New York Giants
The weekly problem of wanting to know who might suit up for the beleaguered Giants is compounded by my deadline and them playing on Monday night this week. The team’s defense dominating last week was likely a Sam Darnold mirage, but Daniel Jones is playing well enough to compete each week, especially if he can get more of his receivers back.
“You don’t often see a team under .500 favored by 10 or so points,” Rogers said, “but the Chiefs offense is going to get off the runway soon. The Giants gutted out a scrappy, efficient win against Carolina, but it’s hard to see their offense doing enough in this prime-time game. Kansas City will use this as a launching point to get their season right and they’ll attempt to run up the score, especially at home.”
That said, the Chiefs are now just 4-14 ATS in their last 18 games, and the Giants made a statement of their own with a 25-3 victory over the Panthers in Week 7. It’s no surprise we’re far from unanimity here.
Davenport: Kansas City
Gagnon: Kansas City
Kenyon: Kansas City
O’Donnell: New York
Rogers: Kansas City
Sobleski: New York
Score Prediction: Chiefs 31, Giants 20
2. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
The outlook: This mortal version of Mahomes is not the version the league is used to seeing. He has always been a risk-taker, but his nine interceptions are tied for the most in the NFL with New York Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson. He also has four fumbles already this season, one less than he had through 15 games in 2020. Since he became the full-time starter in 2018, he has never had a passer rating below 105 for the season but sits at 97.9 at the moment. Worst of all, the Chiefs 3-4 and in the cellar of the AFC West — deeply unfamiliar territory for Mahomes.
Broussard’s thoughts: ”For the last three years, Mahomes has been indisputably the No. 1 quarterback in the world. And now, for the first time, he is facing doubters. He’s facing real adversity for the first time in his career. ... He needs to come back out and get righted. And a perfect opponent — you’ve got the New York Giants. “
Kansas City Chiefs
Buy: DE Emmanuel Ogbah (Dolphins)
Not only does Ogbah have familiarity with Kansas City, but he’s actually thriving off the edge right now. That should be music to the Chiefs’ ears, considering their defensive issues this year. Miami shouldn’t have a problem taking the call at 1-6.
Around the NFL
Three costly turnovers badly burned the Cardinals, but the last one will sting the most. Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray marched his team 94 yards in the final minutes, from his own 1-yard line to the Packers’ 5, to put the Cardinals in position for what should have been at worst an overtime-forcing field goal and, at best, a game-winning touchdown. Instead, miscommunication between Murray and wide receiver A.J. Green put a second-down throw with 0:15 remaining right into the hands of Packers defensive back Rasul Douglas for a game-clinching interception. Green didn’t even turn for the ball, so Douglas didn’t even have to fight for it. It was a bitter way for the Cards to absorb their first loss of the season, but after throwing two interceptions — one on each end of the field — and muffing a punt to set up another Packers red zone chance, the loss was ultimately deserved.
The rule has been expanded to require teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for general manager/executive of football operations positions and all coordinator roles. Beforehand, the requirement was to interview one minority candidate from outside a team for openings in those positions.
Openings for head coaches already fell under such requirements.
NFL clubs now must conduct an in-person interview for at least one external minority candidate for any head coach or general manager opening. All coordinator and assistant general manager candidates can be interviewed virtually, but in-person interviews are being encouraged.
“It’s about how can we ensure the pipeline is strong with minority coaches, and overall. Ensuring everyone gets an opportunity, a look,” says Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer.
On the sideline in street clothes, Chubb had a front row seat for it.
“It was awesome to see him, Johnny (Stanton) and John (Kelly) all go out there and step up,” Chubb said, via the team’s official site. “We needed them big, and they came through for us. It was awesome watching them play, watching them run through those guys and have a good game.
“Two or three years ago, (Johnson) was fishing on a boat trying to find some money and find some work. Now, he is here on the Browns, and he had a great game. It is his story, where he has come from, trusting in the process and never giving up. He is just a lovable guy, too. He is one of my best friends on the team, and it was fun watching him play.”
If you’re a member of the coaching staff under Bill Belichick, your hard work won’t go unnoticed. And while that should be a general theme no matter who you’re employed by — in the NFL or outside of it — it appears Belichick takes it a few steps further for New England Patriots assistant coaches. The 69-year-old reportedly rewards his hardest-working coaches with wads of cash as bonuses, according to “It’s Better to be Feared,” a book on the Patriots organization written by Seth Wickersham, per Yahoo! Sports.
The wads of cash are known around the organization as “green balls” and can sometimes be worth thousands of dollars, but Belichick doesn’t stop there. With those “green balls” mostly being an in-season incentive, he raises the stakes in the offseason, where he writes “a personal check to staffers who had overperformed — sometimes up to six figures” from his own bank account.
So if you’re ever wondering why Belichick is the third-winningest head coach in NFL history, sure, having some guy named Tom Brady at quarterback certainly helped in a big way, but few things motivate like cash in hand, and assistant coaches who impress Belichick often find themselves being cared for well, at least in that regard.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
“I mean, how’d the league catch up to them?’’ Judge asked reporters on Wednesday, via The New York Post. “Is everyone as fast as Tyreek Hill or [Mecole] Hardman? Can everybody cover the ball as deep as [Patrick Mahomes] can throw that thing? I think it’s a foolish narrative for us to buy into if we think this team isn’t as good as they are.’’
Nor is Judge buying into the idea that Mahomes is now a lesser version of himself.
“He looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the world to me,’’ he said. “This guy is — look, to be as athletic as he is, as just naturally instinctive as he is and have that kind of arm strength to make all those throws? There’s a reason this guy gets paid that much money: because there’s not a lot of these guys walking the Earth.’’
Whatever problems the Chiefs have, Judge still has enormous respect for them.
“This is a damn good team,’’ he declared. “They’re very explosive; they’re very dangerous. These guys are going to be playing their best ball Monday night. We’re going out into a tough atmosphere, it’s a lot of great energy out there, so we’ve got to get ready this week to play our best football.’’
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones flatly rejected the New York media’s notion that the Kansas City defense is vulnerable.
“I don’t know if I see it that way — and I know the team doesn’t,’’ he said. “They’re a good defense. They’ve been a good defense for the past however many years. The Chiefs have been a top team in the league. They’ve got really good players on defense — guys who can disrupt the game and who can make big-time plays. I don’t think there’s anyone on our team — or in this building — who’s going to overlook them.’’
A tweet to make you think
Mahomes' honesty is so refreshing man. Standing in front of reporters and detailing what he isn't doing well and how it's affecting the offense. All with a calm demeanor— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) October 28, 2021
A true leader