“These Chiefs, they are like a dragon that is just so hard to slay.”
Just 13 seconds left. Trailing by three. Facing the NFL’s No 1 ranked defense. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs had no right beating the Buffalo Bills in their epic divisional round clash last Sunday. But yet, they did, prompting the above response from Sky Sports NFL’s Neil Reynolds.
6 - Tyreek Hill
Kansas City Chiefs · WR
The Chiefs speedster might be the scariest player in the league with the ball in his hands, boasting footwork that’s unparalleled. Just look at what he did late in the Divisional Round, turning a 15-yard reception from Patrick Mahomes into a 64-yard go-ahead touchdown, weaving through the entire Bills defense on the way. Y’all know it’s a wrap when the Cheetah throws up the deuces.
The only real argument for the Bengals is Joe Burrow. And, honestly, it’s a pretty good argument.
Burrow, as I’ve noted plenty of times, is now 8-0 in “must-win games.” He obliterated the College Football Playoff, and has won two massive regular season games (at Baltimore, vs. this same Chiefs team) and now two playoffs games. The box scores generally indicate the Bengals have no business winning, but they find a way to advance anyway.
Last time around, I predicted the Bengals would win 35-31, while John Breech nailed the prediction absolutely correctly at 34-31. I think it’s my turn this week.
The pick: Bengals 35, Chiefs 31
Last week, prior to the Divisional games, the Chiefs were given a 27 per cent shot to win the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons, just ahead of the Rams on 26.3 per cent.
Following their respective victories, the Chiefs are viewed as having a 37.84 per cent chance of taking the silverware back to Missouri. The more likely outcome, at least according to ROS, is that the trophy stays at SoFi Stadium with the Rams, whose odds of winning it for only the second time in franchise history have ballooned to 38.21.
4 - Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City’s defense is a “boom or bust” outfit that relies on high-pressure tactics to create turnovers and negative plays. When defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is on his game, the Chiefs can put opponents in a bind with a flurry of blitzes that overwhelm opponents at the line of scrimmage. Chris Jones, Frank Clark and Melvin Ingram take advantage of five- and six-man pressures by winning the one-on-one matchups created by the aggressive tactics. When the trio is able to harass quarterbacks within the pocket, the Chiefs are able to mask their coverage woes on the perimeter. The combination of coverage busts and communication breakdowns that we’ve seen from the secondary is concerning, but at least Tyrann Mathieu is trending in the right direction after missing most of the Divisional Round win over Buffalo with a concussion.
Superstition about the No. 13 is so prevalent that it turns out there’s actually a word for it: triskaidekaphobia. Heck, there’s yet another word for the corollary fear of Friday the 13th: paraskevidekatriaphobia.
According to research cited by History.com, as much as 10 percent of the U.S. population subscribes to the dread of the number.
And more than 80 percent of hi-rise buildings in the United States do not recognize a 13th floor. As of last Sunday, though, it might be surmised that there are far fewer who fret over that number in Kansas City — even as that membership may have risen geometrically in Buffalo.
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Daboll reunites with new Giants general manager Joe Schoen, who was with Buffalo as an assistant GM for four seasons before being hired by the Giants on Jan. 21.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be named head coach of the New York Giants,” said Daboll, via the team’s website. “Thank you to Joe Schoen for believing in me and to John Mara and Steve Tisch and their families for entrusting me with this position. My immediate goal is to assemble a coaching staff — a strong staff that emphasizes teaching and collaboration and making sure our players are put in the position to be their best and, ultimately, to win games. That’s why all of us do this. To teach, to be successful, to develop talent, and to win. I have a pretty good idea where our fan base’s feelings are right now, and I get it. I promise we will work our tails off to put a team on the field that you will be proud to support and give us the results we all want.”
While Brady has not said much explicitly about his plans, many teammates and close associates believe he went into this postseason knowing it would be his final run, no matter the outcome in the playoffs, as reported last week. The perception among that group remains the same, and Brady himself was far less declarative about his future playing status after last week’s loss to the Rams than he has ever been before. Within the Bucs organization, sources said, there has been a growing sense that the team will end up in the market for a new starting quarterback next season, which likely means other top players like Rob Gronkowski opt to call is a career as well.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Calm, cool and collected Patrick
Mark: “I don’t know if you saw Patrick Mahomes heart rate on Twitter, but it was at its lowest when he was in the huddle — and at its highest when he was on the bench — because he had no control over what was happening. When he’s in the huddle calling plays. he’s cool as a cucumber — as cool as the other side of the pillow. Even when the Bills scored a touchdown with 13 seconds left he didn’t have any panic on his face... It’s a testament to the guys around him and the coaching staff. It’s not just the players, but Eric Bieniemy, Andy Reid and Mike Kafka all play a role in this... They boost his confidence and tell him to ‘Just be you’ — even when he’s struggling.”
Aaron: “As much as we fall in love with football on the field on Sundays, the game is really won in the film room. We’ve heard players talk about the strategy meetings and situation meetings that they describe as boring... They are on top of the film to prepare themselves for every situation. They know exactly what the lineups are, where they need to be and the communication. Specifically — for instance — ‘Do it Kels’ shows that the sync with Mahomes and these guys that’s on a different level.”
While much of the narrative for Sunday’s rematch has focused on Chase’s outstanding performance on January 2, Spagnuolo cautioned that he cannot build a game plan entirely around the rookie. The Bengals also boast Tee Higgins — a second 1,000 yard receiver — along third wideout Tyler Boyd, finished the regular season with 828 yards and five touchdowns.
“It’s not like they have one weapon — commit two people to it and you’re home free,” observed Spagnuolo. “Throughout the course of the season, all three of those guys have been the leading receiver for them on a given day. They’re all capable of what we call ‘wrecking the game.’ So we’ve got to pay a lot of attention to all three of them. The quarterback knows where to go with the ball; he’s sharp enough to know that if you’re taking one of his guys away, he’s going to go somewhere else. So we have to play that cat-and-mouse game. As dynamic as Ja’Marr Chase is, there’s certainly some other weapons there as well.”
“Chase is not the only wide receiver they have,” echoed Sneed. “From the balls that he caught, they were all contested balls. The corners were there when he was catching the ball. We just have to get the ball out this time. I think we’re ready for it.”