Andy Reid: COVID adjustments helped Chiefs prepare for short-week ‘curveballs’ ahead of Saturday finale | NFL.com
Having one fewer day to prepare could be met with complaints from the four clubs, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid noted that the recent schedule juggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made the team adept at adjusting on the fly.
“I guess COVID has helped us in that area, being able to hang in the box and swing at curveballs and not bail out,” Reid said when asked if he liked the Saturday format in the final week. “So, we’re a little bit used to the sudden change. It just affects a lot of people — I’m talking about from (team president) Mark Donovan on down to all of us. Everybody’s got to move things around and organize, and we’re lucky to have a good organization with guys who like to work — you know, (general manager) Brett Veach and so on. All the heads of their department really bust their tail to make sure it goes smooth. As a head coach, I appreciate that.”
The Chiefs need a victory over the Broncos to keep hope alive for the No. 1 seed.
2021 NFL playoffs: Projecting all 14 postseason teams and seeding | NFL.com
2 - Kansas City Chiefs
Week 18 opponent: at Broncos (7-9) | Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
In order to get the No. 1 seed, the Chiefs need one of two outcomes:
Win + Titans lose or tie
Tie + Titans lose
I have the Chiefs beating the Broncos in 69 percent of simulations and the Titans taking down the Texans in 71.8 percent, which drives a high likelihood of Kansas City being the No. 2 seed. Patrick Mahomes and Co. are most likely to face the Chargers on Super Wild Card Weekend, per my model, with the Colts a lesser possibility.
The Chiefs have faced a two-high safety shell on 66.6 percent of offensive snaps this season — a whopping 12.1 points more than any other team has seen (Ravens are second at 54.5%) — which has posed problems for Mahomes:
Two-high safety shell: 64.9%, 7.3 ypa, 12 TDs, 11 INTs, 85.4 passer rating
Single-high safety shell: 71.4%, 8.2 ypa, 16 TDs, 1 INT, 127.9 passer rating
NFL QB Index, Week 18: Matthew Stafford remains a roller-coaster ride, while Joe Burrow hits top three | NFL.com
5 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 5
2021 stats: 16 games | 66.6 pct | 4,569 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 35 pass TD | 13 INT | 327 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 9 fumbles
Mahomes’ best three-game stretch of the 2021 campaign? His last three games — and it’s not close. His passes are more consistently on point, and the game has slowed down for him again. Mahomes’ play and an O-line proving to have incredible depth make me higher on the Chiefs’ title chances than at any point this season. I give him a slight edge over Kyler Murray on this list because of Murray’s three missed games.
NFL Week 18 QB Power Rankings: Red-hot Joe Burrow enters top five; Aaron Rodgers remains No. 1 | CBS Sports
3 - Patrick Mahomes
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QB
Even with a long, rough stretch this year, his numbers look pretty. At full speed, his offense remains a powerhouse.
Chiefs star Tyrann Mathieu praises fellow LSU product, Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase for record performance | 247 Sports
Kansas City Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu, who also starred at LSU before Burrow and Chase arrived, met with reporters after the game and responded to questions about his defense of Burrow and Chase. Mathieu was not shy in doling out praise for Chase.
“I thought he had a great game,” Mathieu said. “I think a lot of things kinda went his way. A lot of balls he caught today we could’ve been better as far as our angles to the completion point. I don’t think we tackled as well as we’ve been tackling these last couple months. Anytime you’re playing against a player like that, they’re gonna expose you. If you’re having an off-day, they’re gonna be the reason you get exposed. Hats off to the kid. He had a great game. I’m hoping he can keep it going, going forward. … Even if guys make a big play, catch a ball or get a touchdown, it’s all about the next drive and how we respond. We had some moments in the game where we responded well, but when we really need it we just couldn’t get off the field.”
2022 NFL Mock Draft: Giants grab Kenny Pickett, Vikings get Justin Jefferson a running mate at receiver | CBS Sports
Jaquan Brisker S
Tyrann Mathieu is unlikely to leave the Chiefs despite his expiring contract, but Kansas City could use more youth at safety. Brisker is a safe prospect.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes describes his biggest area of growth in 2021 | Chiefs Wire
“I think the biggest area of growth is that I’ve just learned to be patient,” He said. “I’ve learned to take what’s there, take the underneath stuff, probably the most I’ve ever thrown to the running backs and stuff like that. I have such an aggressive nature and want to push the ball down the field, but defenses have forced me to learn how to drive the length of the field and I think we’ve done a great job of that as the season’s gone on.
“We’ve made a lot of big drives happen and drove the length of the field, but we haven’t lost our explosiveness and when defenses do present man coverage or safety middle zone coverage where they come down and give us a chance to throw it deep, I think we’re still hitting those. Finding that right balance, I think that’s been a big growth for me to learn to take what’s there but keep that aggressiveness.”
Around the NFL
The 5 teams with the brightest futures in the NFL | SB Nation
No. 1: Cincinnati Bengals
Pros: Established offensive core, solid young coach, boatloads of cap space
Cons: Suspect secondary
There are almost no blemishes on the future of the Bengals. This is a team who has turned around so quickly they’re stunning the NFL establishment and making a mark. Cincinnati will make the playoffs this year, and the sky is the limit for the future.
The trio of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins has the feeling of Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. I’m not saying the former are as talented as the latter, it’s too soon, but they evoke the same feelings of a young nucleus who are firing on all cylinders and can keep growing together.
Yes, the Bengals’ defense needs work — especially in the secondary, but only three teams in the NFL have more cap space in 2022. With smart management and some good pick ups there’s no reason this team can’t become a class team in the AFC ... fast.
Chargers’ Brandon Staley dismisses forced tie with Raiders to land playoff berth: ‘We all respect the game’ | CBS Sports
For if the Jaguars find a way to upset the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (stranger things have happened this season), both the Chargers and Raiders could qualify for the playoffs, but only if their primetime matchup Sunday night ends in a tie.
Of course, that scenario immediately thrust forward the potential that both clubs would simply spend 60 football minutes taking alternating knees to guarantee the tie and, as such, their respective playoff berths. That won’t happen, though, according to Chargers head coach Brandon Staley.
“That’s a pretty loaded scenario,” Staley said on ”The Rich Eisen Show” this week. “That is an all-time coffee shop scenario. I feel like I’m with my buddies at the University of Dayton. I think we all respect the game and the NFL shield and the integrity of this game far too much to be complicit in something like that.
“This game matters too much to too many people, and we want to play our best and be proud of the result one way or another. We’re going to do everything we can to go win this game, and play the way we’re capable of playing. I hope all the fans and everybody who loves the NFL will be proud of the game on Sunday.”
NFL teams could lose draft pick, face fines for unprofessional conduct during draft prospect interviews | ESPN
In a memo obtained by ESPN that was sent to clubs Wednesday, the league said a team would forfeit a draft pick between the first and fourth rounds and be fined a minimum of $150,000 if it’s determined a club representative displayed conduct that is “disrespectful, inappropriate, or unprofessional” during an interview. Fines and/or suspensions of individual club employees also could be imposed, according to the memo.
“We aim for dignity, respect and professionalism,” league executive Troy Vincent told The Associated Press. “It’s that simple.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Film review: Why the Chiefs’ offensive line was a bright spot amidst chaos in Cincinnati
I’ll be the first to say, there are times during Chiefs games called by Tony Romo in which I want to hit the mute button. Even in this particular game, those moments popped up for me. However, Romo did make a point several times during the broadcast that I agree with resoundingly: this Chiefs team is more dangerous than versions from previous years, and it’s largely because of the powerful, downhill style of offense they are capable of displaying. They can get a yard or two when they really need it, and they don’t have to trick the opposing defense much, if at all to do so.
All season long, especially on the Arrowhead Pride Film Room show, we’ve talked about wanting to see Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy adopt more gap-style run plays where they pull guards, tackles, fullbacks, etc. and play to the strengths of their very physical, strong offensive line. On Sunday, we saw them continue to shift more in that direction.
The Chiefs ran eight (8) plays where they had some form of a “puller” — either a “counter” or “power” run scheme designed to move defenders at the point of attack and run through a specific gap. The results? Yardage gains of 23, 12, 10, 6, 1, 0, and two goal-line touchdowns by Darrel Williams. In other words, six of those eight plays could be considered successful for the offense. Overall, Chiefs running backs Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore averaged 7.35 yards per carry on 17 totes — a tremendous output.
Something encouraging? KC is embracing gap/power run principles as more of their bread & butter right in time for the playoffs. You can win games this way in any type of conditions. pic.twitter.com/GFiYU2RFev— Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_) January 4, 2022
A tweet to make you think
Longtime NFL coach Greg Robinson, who was Denver’s defensive coordinator when the Broncos won back-to-back to Super Bowls before he became a head coach at Syracuse, died this morning from natural causes, according to his friend @PatKirwan_NFL. Robinson was 70.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 5, 2022
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