12 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 5
2021 stats: 12 games | 64.6 pct | 3,384 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 25 pass TD | 12 INT | 250 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles
Another tipped-pass interception that was a little hot but mostly not Mahomes’ fault. Another patient, excellent opening drive touchdown by the Chiefs followed by three quarters of mediocre offensive play. Another week of conservative decisions by Andy Reid because he’s playing to his defense, which is one of the best in football. Mahomes receding into the background is the most bizarre development of a bizarre season.
6 - Patrick Mahomes
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QB
Andy Reid’s game management has left a good bit to be desired lately, but he’s been erratic, too. It’s a good thing their defense has been at the top of its game. (-1)
3 - Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City’s five-game win streak feels a tad funky. Trust blooms over a revived defense allowing a stingy 11.2 points per game — second-best league-wide — since Week 8. The offense, though, bears no resemblance to the impossible-to-stop attack of yesteryear. They’ve scored fewer than 25 points in six straight home games. An uncharacteristic 12 picks by Patrick Mahomes have included an NFL-leading five interceptions triggered by drops. Out of sync for quarters at a time, the Chiefs can take hope from their last bona fide fireworks show, a 41-14 crushing of the Raiders in Week 10. Dreamers eyeing the spread must believe in a Vegas team that put up 509 yards and 36 points against a stout Dallas defense on Thanksgiving. Belief must extend to Derek Carr and an offense wishing to push the ball deep. That was an uphill climb against Washington in Week 13, but Carr entered the game with a league-best 808 yards on deep shots in 2021. The tragedy surrounding Henry Ruggs III has stripped the team of a key component. That was masked when DeSean Jackson piled up 100-plus against Dallas, yet made overt when the aging deep-threat squeezed out a 1/14/0 line against Washington. The hope is that star tight end Darren Waller returns against a Chiefs operation scratching out ugly wins. If the spread stays this vast, the Raiders — fighting for their playoff lives — remain inviting.
Pass Rush Power
Seemingly every rep from Ingram involves a great sense of power and explosiveness. It starts when the ball is snapped, as the South Carolina product still possesses one of the most forceful get-offs. This was extremely evident in the Chiefs latest victory over the Denver Broncos. It may not have seemed like Ingram and the rest of the pass rush were getting to Teddy Bridgewater that consistently. Yet, Ingram was a major reason as to why Bridgewater had to get the ball out quickly and why the passer was off target on occasion as well.
On top of his blazing get off, Ingram plants a vicious punch into the opposing blocker’s chest. Kansas City has guys that are deceptive and patient with their hand usage. There is a different feeling when watching Ingram, however. In fact, he often provides more than one heavy blow before the blocker can begin to fight him off. Oftentimes, it is already too late. Ingram has moved from making contact and into getting in the deeper part of the backfield.
For an elite prospect like Ewers, Texas Tech is an odd contender, but the hire of McGuire combined with a number of other factors have given the Red Raiders a fighting chance. The former head coach at high school powerhouse Cedar Hill, McGuire’s experience under Matt Rhule at Baylor and his connections to Texas high school football have generated a rare buzz in Lubbock.
As Collin Kennedy of 247Sports lays out, those other factors include a push from Texas Tech alum Pat Mahomes and the hire of Air Raid guru Zach Kittley as offensive coordinator.
But it’s the unprecedented combination of immediate eligibility for only the second quarterback to receive a 1.0000 rating from 247Sports and the new NIL rights that has created a truly unique situation — the quarterback depth chart and path to early playing time may end up mattering less than the NIL deals Ewers can secure at the school of his choice.
Around the NFL
Fields has missed the Bears’ past two games with an injury to his ribs, but Nagy said Wednesday that the rookie has been medically cleared.
Nagy said Fields’ fractured ribs have fully healed.
“This comes down to, for him — like I’ve been saying the whole time — it’s a pain deal that we can’t really simulate. We go off what he says; we go off what our doctors say. When he’s fully cleared like he is, then we’re ready to rock and roll. He’s the starter when he’s healthy, and that’s where we’re at,” Nagy said.
Las Vegas Raiders
Interim coach Rich Bisaccia always faced a difficult task holding that thing together after all the adversity the Raiders have faced. And GM Mike Mayock’s draft record had put him under intense scrutiny as well. Derek Carr isn’t looking like a franchise QB, and Mark Davis is going to have a very busy 2022 reshaping his organization perhaps across the board, needing to fill top positions on the business side of his operation too.
Most sacks: 22.5 — Michael Strahan
A couple of players have come within one sack of breaking Giants legend Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5, which he set in 2001. Jared Allen racked up 22 sacks as a member of the Minnesota Vikings 2011, and Justin Houston reached the same number with the Kansas City Chiefs three seasons later.
Despite missing two games this season, Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt looks primed to do what Allen and Houston couldn’t and reach that elusive 23-sack mark. Watt has amassed a career-high 16 sacks in 10 games played. After a 3.5-sack performance in Pittsburgh’s Week 13 victory over Baltimore, the fifth-year defensive end is now on pace to finish with a record-breaking 24 sacks.
Watt, who has failed to record at least one sack just twice in 2021, will need seven quarterback takedowns over the final five weeks to surpass Strahan. You especially have to like Watt’s chances when you consider three of the signal callers he’s set to face are among the top six in sacks taken this year — Lamar Jackson (36 sacks taken), Ryan Tannehill (33) and Baker Mayfield (29).
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The big picture
As it stands right now, the Chiefs have a 90% chance to make the playoffs (up from 84%), a 68% chance to win their sixth-straight AFC West championship (up from 62%), a 13% chance to win the single AFC bye (10%) and a 10% chance to win Super Bowl LVI (10%). One AFC team — the New England Patriots (14%) — has a better chance to win the championship. Three NFC teams — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers — all have at least a 12% chance to win.
These percentages begin with the Sagarin ratings for each NFL team. This system determines the relative strength of every team, which are then used to figure the probability teams will win each of their remaining games. Using this data, the remainder of the season is simulated tens of thousands of times — and the results of these projections give us our answers. So — for example — in 90% of the simulations, the Chiefs make the playoffs.
Making the playoffs
The playoff calculator also allows us to assume the outcome of any remaining game and then see how it changes things.
By simply winning their next two games — both of them against AFC West teams — the Chiefs’ chance to make the playoffs rises to above 99%. With a third win among any of the last three games, the Chiefs are locked into the postseason. Any combination of three wins in the last five games will almost guarantee making the playoffs; a couple of them — for example, the Chiefs beat the Chargers, Steelers and Broncos — lock up a postseason berth.
A tweet to make you think
#Chiefs say that the only player out of practice Wednesday will be special-teamer/cornerback Chris Lammons… so CB Rashad Fenton (knee) and RT Lucas Niang (ribs) are back in the mix.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) December 8, 2021
Expectation is they will be limited to start, and then we’ll see later in the week.