• Mahomes’ statistics — and therefore his MVP case — would be far stronger if he had his usual help from a typically reliable supporting cast. But no quarterback in the NFL has been more affected by dropped passes than Mahomes in terms of expected points lost.
Six of his interceptions have had a 75% chance or better of being completed based on where he located the football, per Next Gen Stats — twice as many as the previous three years combined. That’s a staggering number that has affected all of his other numbers — yards, completion percentage, quarterback rating ... and, to some extent, even the Chiefs’ win-loss record.
• To continue on that subject, while Mahomes has set a career high with 13 interceptions and tied a career high with nine fumbles, would you believe he’s been graded as more protective of the football than his career norm?
Only 2.6% of his plays have been graded turnover-worthy, per Pro Football Focus. If he finishes there, it would be the lowest percentage of his four seasons as a starting NFL quarterback.
Another dark horse is Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. FOX Bet has Mahomes listed at 11-to-1, which is notably lower than some of the 65 and 70-to-1 prices that were in the market when KC stumbled out to a 3-4 start.
Kansas City has since ripped off eight straight wins, and much like Green Bay, the Chiefs are well on their way to the top seed in their respective conference.
“We were pretty careful with Mahomes across all the markets,” Pearson explained. “We didn’t ever want to get too high for MVP or in the AFC and Super Bowl markets, because we know what he’s capable of doing. We’re willing to take some bets on Mahomes, and we’ll drop his odds accordingly if need be.”
What to watch for: The winner of this game will be the team that can control it with its offense. Kansas City leads the NFL in points per drive and has been able to sustain possessions better than anyone else in the league. And while the Bengals can be dynamic through the air, they might use Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon to exploit a Kansas City defense that ranks 31st in run stop win rate and allows 4.7 yards per rush attempt, which is third-worst in the NFL. — Ben Baby
Bold prediction: The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Bengals’ Joe Burrow will each throw for more than 300 yards. They are fifth and sixth, respectively, in passing yards, both with more than 4,000. Each has five 300-yard passing performances this season, with Burrow coming off a 525-yard game last week. — Adam Teicher
Chiefs at Bengals
Sunday,1 p.m. ET
Fantastic game coming here. Patrick Mahomes is back. There were actual people with brains — theoretically inside of their skulls and attached to their bodies — suggesting the NFL figured out Patrick Mahomes and solved the pesky little problem of Andy Reid’s offense. “We’re on to Cincinnati,” indeed. Mahomes is completing 73 percent of his passes, averaging 308.7 yards per game and squatting on an 8-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last three games. But we might be sleeping on Joe Burrow’s breakout second season, one in which he’s coming off a torn ACL. Dude just threw for 525 passing yards during a late December AFC North game. Travis Kelce is back and maybe the moment is too big for the Bengals, but the moment isn’t too big for Joe Burrow.
The Pick: Bengals 35, Chiefs 31
Bets: Bengals +5/ML
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy seemed to take particular note of Pringle’s performance, and he spoke about the work put in by his underrated receiver during the time he had for media availability on Thursday.
“I thought Pringle did a heck of a job,” Bieniemy said of Pringle’s breakout game. “I’m not shocked, nor surprised. The thing about Pringle, he’s one of our hardest working individuals. The kid comes to work every day with his hard hat. The thing that you appreciate about Pringle is that he does not take anything for granted.
“You don’t have to remind Pringle that he had a drop. He’s going to remind himself and he’s going to find a way to make up for that particular play. That’s what you love about him because nothing is ever too high, and nothing ever gets him down too low. He just puts consistent behavior on tape, and that’s what we appreciate about him more than anything.”
The #Bearcats in the crowd went crazy when they saw @GoBearcatsFB alum @tkelce is here at @ATTStadium ...and his teammate from the @Chiefs @PatrickMahomes !#LikeNoOther | @CFBPlayoff | @BowlSeason pic.twitter.com/pY2ZUbnZk2— Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (@CottonBowlGame) December 31, 2021
Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce support Cincinnati at Cotton Bowl
Mahomes was shown on the screen, and he called over Kelce to stand alongside him. The tight end was wearing a Cincinnati jacket and hat. Their teammate and Alabama alum, Gehrig Dieter, attempted to steal the spotlight by holding up a Crimson Tide hat, but he was put in a headlock by Mahomes!
This is not the first time the two were together to support their alma mater. Kelce was in attendance at the 2019 Final Four, where Mahomes’ Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the Michigan State Spartans to reach the National Championship Game. Texas Tech ultimately lost 85-77 to the Virginia Cavaliers.
Around the NFL
The conference counterparts now have nine days to prepare for a sequel to their SEC title bout, a 41-24 Alabama romp on Dec. 4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. That result knocked the Bulldogs from the top of the rankings, which they’d occupied since early October following the Crimson Tide’s loss to Texas A&M. Georgia and Alabama also squared off in the 2018 CFP championship match — an instant classic that featured a 13-point second-half comeback and overtime victory for the Crimson Tide.
In six games with the Browns this season, Beckham averaged 38.8 receiving yards per game and did not catch a single touchdown pass.
Rams coach Sean McVay described Beckham as “a joy to be around” since his arrival.
“He’s got a great charisma, great presence, he’s an incredibly talented football player and then I can attest to this now, he’s a great teammate,” McVay said. “He really cares about these guys, he’s been incredibly selfless, he’s made plays when he’s had the opportunity.”
Through seven weeks with the Rams, Beckham has not garnered the attention he once received throughout five seasons with the New York Giants or 2½ seasons with the Browns.
In the first three drafts of the Carroll era, the Seahawks knocked it out of the park. From 2010 through 2012, Carroll, GM John Schneider and Co. selected Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Wilson, forming the foundation of a championship program. But since that three-year run of drafting excellence, Seattle just hasn’t picked anywhere near as successfully. And this isn’t just a fleeting trend — it’s been nearly a decade. The past nine drafts have produced a gem here and there (SEE: Day 2 receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett), but for the most part, returns have been slim.
So, with that as the backdrop, why would the Seahawks give up their most valuable piece to suddenly bet on their suspect draft acumen? Wilson is an elite quarterback, the most sought-after commodity in the NFL. They’re supposed to voluntarily flip that for the lottery tickets that are draft picks? And in case you haven’t begun your 2022 draft prep yet, this QB class looks far less appealing than recent crops.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Bengals present a well-balanced offensive attack; depending on what they need, they can succeed with the running game and through the air.
When passing, it all starts with second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. Currently, he has the NFL’s highest yards-per-attempt rate (8.7), second-highest completion percentage (69.9%), and second-highest passer rating (105.0). He has shown ability in many facets of being a successful quarterback: managing a lead, coming from behind or just flat-out dominating — like the 525 passing yards he put up against the Baltimore Ravens last week.
There's no eye-popping athleticism or arm talent when you watch Joe Burrow, he's just great at anticipating throwing windows and putting the ball exactly where it needs to be— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) December 31, 2021
Times up a throw perfectly to hit the Cover 2 hole on the first one here pic.twitter.com/LnaY9UN7cc
Burrow is unique among the crop of young, potentially-elite quarterbacks. He doesn’t have Justin Herbert’s incredible arm talent or the unicorn athleticism of Josh Allen. Instead, Burrow wins with excellent anticipation and accuracy to all levels of the field. His impressive pre-snap recognition allows him that anticipation — and it also lets the Bengals trust him with a lot of empty pass sets.