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Arrowheadlines: Mahomes up to third in CBS’ QB rankings - down in eighth in NFL.com’s

Chiefs headlines for Thursday, December 23

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The latest

NFL Week 16 QB Power Rankings: Aaron Rodgers back on top as Kyler Murray, Ryan Tannehill slide | CBS Sports

3 - Patrick Mahomes

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QB

Is he still dependent on off-script plays? Sure. But you don’t throw 4,000+ yards and 30 TDs by accident. He appears to be getting hot at the right time. (+3)

NFL QB Index, Week 16: Aaron Rodgers hits No. 1 for the first time this season! Joe Burrow eyeing top five | NFL.com

8 - Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City Chiefs · Year 5

2021 stats: 14 games | 65.6 pct | 4,052 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 30 pass TD | 13 INT | 302 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 8 fumbles

Mahomes appears most comfortable in chaos, at his best when he’s making the difficult throw. On the Chiefs’ two-point conversion to make it 21-21 Thursday night, he passed on two open receivers in his progression just to roll right and throw left against his body for the conversion. The Chiefs’ breathtaking finish to their win over the Chargers included more than 100 yards after the catch from Travis Kelce, coming after a familiar stretch of stagnation following an opening-drive touchdown. Mahomes is feeling himself again and that’s scary for the rest of the AFC.

Pro Bowl snubs and surprises: NFL experts debate the AFC and NFC rosters for 2022 game | ESPN

Creed Humphrey, C, Kansas City Chiefs

Humphrey was an absolute gem find by Kansas City in the second round of April’s draft. The rookie has a 97.5% pass block win rate, which is tops among all offensive linemen, and of extreme value as the center of one of the league’s pass-heaviest offenses. Our friends at Pro Football Focus grade the Oklahoma product as easily the league’s best pivot this season, as he sits first at the position in run blocking and third in pass blocking. I get it — he’s a rookie — but several other first-year players made the Pro Bowl and you can make the case that Humphrey is the best of the bunch.

2022 Pro Bowl snubs: Cordarrelle Patterson, Roquan Smith lead list of players who deserved recognition | CBS Sports

C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are starting two offensive linemen they drafted just a few months ago and Humphrey is one of them. According to a league press release delivered earlier this week, Humphrey led all centers with 128,608 votes and he has the top PFF grade among all centers with a 90.4. Sure, Pro Bowls may be down the line for Humphrey, but the argument could be made he deserved one in his first NFL season.

How Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes evolved his game, taking a cue from Tom Brady | ESPN

ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky said having to learn to play a different game — being patient, taking what the defense gives, not forcing throws — could help Mahomes become a better player.

“It can if he embraces it,” Orlovsky said. “He’s had moments where he’s grown this year in that regards. It’s not fun for a guy that is incredibly talented and has had such remarkable success to have to play this style of football. ... I could play that style of football, throw the checkdowns. I could make those throws. That’s the challenge he’s been presented with. It’s always cyclical. It will come back.

“There’s always going to be moments in games where you can get the big plays. But you can’t force them. You have to understand when they are and when the moment is to take them. That’s part of the growing process with Patrick.”

NFL mock draft: Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux go top two | Fox Sports

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

As long as Patrick Mahomes is lighting up the scoreboard, Kansas City can focus on adding playmakers at other positions. Gardner possesses great length and speed, different from most of the Chiefs’ cornerbacks. He has not allowed a single touchdown reception in his college career. He’ll have his toughest test yet in the Cotton Bowl against projected first-round receiver Jameson Williams, Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and top-ranked Alabama.

Around the NFL

NFL wanted to cancel Week 15 postponed games; NFLPA’s pushback resulted in players getting paid | CBS Sports

Had it not been for the NFLPA’s executive committee, three of the NFL’s Week 15 games would have been canceled instead of postponed. The cancellation of those games would have resulted in more than 18% of the league’s players not getting paid that week, according to Browns center and NFLPA president JC Tretter.

The Browns were one of six teams in jeopardy of having their Week 15 game canceled due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. The Browns-Raiders game was pushed back to Monday evening, while the Rams-Seahawks and Football Team-Eagles games were moved to Tuesday.

“The issue wasn’t about how many guys we got back,” Tretter said on Wednesday, via Cleveland.com’s May Kay Cabot. “Our position as a union is that we fight for wages, benefits, and working conditions. … The NFL’s position last week was that those three games were going to be canceled. They weren’t going to be played, and if they weren’t played, than nobody on either team was going to be paid. That’s obviously an issue for us as a union when over 18% of our player population was at risk of not getting paid last week. Our position was that we needed to make sure all games are played in order for our guys to get paid. And that was our position.”

Le’Veon Bell says he mulled retiring to pursue boxing before Tampa Bay Buccaneers called | ESPN

“I’m not even gonna lie — I got to the point where I had thought about kinda calling it quits, just cause the fact that it wasn’t working out for me the last couple spots I’ve been at,” said Bell, 29, who signed with the Buccaneers after Leonard Fournette suffered a hamstring injury Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, and after Giovani Bernard went on injured reserve with knee and hip injuries.

“This was like literally the only spot that I felt like made me want to play football and go out there and be excited to play. This was like literally the only place that could have called me and got me to really go play. I was gonna start boxing and focusing on boxing.”

Eagles HC Nick Sirianni enters COVID-19 protocol after testing positive for virus | NFL.com

The Eagles announced Wednesday that head coach Nick Sirianni tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed in the league’s protocols. The club remains hopeful, however, that he could return to lead his players in Sunday’s NFC East home game against the New York Giants. Sirianni is symptomatic, per the team, and will conduct team meetings virtually until he is able to test out of protocols, which requires two consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart.

Sirianni said that passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo would be acting head coach in his absence, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

The 6 teams with the most hopeless futures in the NFL | SB Nation

No. 4: New York Jets

Pros: Potential solid coach, two first round picks, ample cap space

Cons: Worrisome QB investment, roster lacking talent

I still really like Robert Saleh as a head coach and think he could be the right guy for the job. That paired with two first round picks in 2022, and $55M in cap space could turn this team around.

The issue I have is the investment the team made in Zach Wilson. When you take a QB with the No. 2 overall pick they get a lot of rope, and the early returns on the BYU rookie are a total mess. Wilson was a passer who needed time and development, and he got neither — and this is assuming he can actually be “the guy.”

There’s some worrisome things here, but also the potential to get things back on track.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Patrick Mahomes discusses challenge of possibly missing Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce vs. Steelers

One would think it may have been odd for quarterback Patrick Mahomes to take the practice field without his top two targets on Wednesday, as the Chiefs began preparation for Sunday’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers — but he stressed that it was business as usual.

“It wasn’t too different, I guess you would say,” said Mahomes, speaking to the media on Zoom. “Throughout practices, especially with those two guys, we try to let other guys get some reps in to not only get those other guys reps and get them work but to let them rest their legs with Travis and Tyreek because they run so many routes on game days.”

That last part is a good note for this week, as Kelce and Hill can’t be around the team — yet they can still ingest the team’s offensive meetings virtually. They won’t get the on-the-field reps, but Mahomes has little worry that they will be ready to play if they can test out of the protocol in time for the game.

“Those guys have gotten a lot of reps with me just within this offense and this league,” said Mahomes. “Obviously, it’s a really complex (Steelers) defense that we’re facing, and they’ve played it a couple times, even before I was here. So, for me, as long as they’re healthy and they’re safe and they’ve passed the protocols and they’re back, we’ll throw them right back into the offense. They’ll be able to take on the roles that they’ve always had.”

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