After nearly two decades, and with Reid’s blessing, Culley went to Buffalo to coach quarterbacks for another former Reid assistant, Sean McDermott, for two seasons before landing in Baltimore.
With the Ravens, Culley spent two seasons as an assistant coach, wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator under yet another former Reid assistant, John Harbaugh.
That led to his opportunity as head coach of the Houston Texans.
Culley’s first season — against the backdrop of Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson’s off-field troubles and de facto suspension — has been a struggle, but he can do Reid a huge favor Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
The Texans (4-12) wrap up 2021 at noon Sunday against the Titans (11-5), who need a win to clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC.
If Houston, which stunned Tennessee 22-13 on Nov. 21 in Nashville, can pull off another upset, it opens the door for Kansas City to claim the top seed — and all-important first-round bye — with a win at Denver.
Vic Fangio had to wait until age 60 to get his first head-coaching opportunity. It’s a shame that his three-year tenure, marked by what ifs, will likely end against a Chiefs problem his defense was unable to solve. Fangio has never won against Andy Reid, and Patrick Mahomes has never lost to the Broncos, dating back to the Vance Joseph days. The timing is off here, too: For the first time all season, it’s easy to see that Mahomes and this Chiefs’ offense are back in full flow.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC)
Kansas City Chiefs -11
The Chiefs have something to play for, as a win and a Tennessee Titans loss would give Kansas City the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Patrick Mahomes and Co. will be plenty motivated after their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last week, which is unfortunate for the Broncos. They lost by 13 points to Kansas City earlier this year and have lost three straight. Teddy Bridgewater was placed on injured reserve, so it will again be Drew Lock — who is battling through a shoulder injury. Denver lost by 21 to the Los Angeles Chargers last week and is likely looking forward to the offseason.
The pick: Chiefs -10
Projected score: Chiefs 30-17
Kansas City Chiefs (-10) at Denver Broncos
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Denver Broncos +10
If the Chiefs have any chance to get the top seed, they must win this game. They are coming off a tough loss to the Bengals, one where the defense let them down. That defense will bounce back here, and the Chiefs offense will have another good day. Denver can’t score. Chiefs big.
Pick: Chiefs 33, Broncos 14
Although the questions couldn’t help from alluding to his role in the NFL - maybe the Broncos - next season, Lock stayed consistent in his message.
“I think you have to focus on staying in the moment. My biggest thing today was meetings this morning. Then my next biggest thing is going to be going out to practice, executing, getting the week started off right,” Lock said. “I think if you just take it day by day, stay where your feet are, the outside noise and a lot of other things that go on around—what is football, what is the NFL, what is the Denver Broncos right now? That all stays out of your focus if you’re just where your feet are at all times.”
Whether his future after Saturday is in Denver or elsewhere, Lock is only concerned right now with the game.
Currently, they hold the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture but a win plus a loss by Tennessee would give them the top seed. Williams has an opportunity to reach a milestone in the game against the Broncos. With just 37 yards on the ground and/or through the air, he will reach 1,000 yards from scrimmage. As far as the Texas Bowl was concerned, Williams was set to watch the game with a teammate and former Kansas State wide receiver Byron Pringle.
“I was supposed to go to Byron’s (Pringle) house and watch the game, but I didn’t,” Williams said. “We had a little struggle, we had our receiver playing quarterback. But I just like how those guys (LSU) came together as a team and they fought for each other. No matter what it was, what the situation was, they were all in together. They were willing to put whatever they needed to do on the line for the team. I’m proud of those guys.”
Williams was part of the team that went to the Texas Bowl in 2015 when they defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders. He carried the ball just twice in that game but one of those went for a touchdown. Williams was the backup to starting running back Leonard Fournette.
Haley will evaluate and select players for the team, while the director of football operations will assist with the roster, the league said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for me to get back into coaching at the professional level,” Haley said in a USFL news release.
“It’s been a while since I led a team on field, and I’ve missed it. “It’s also rare that a head coach, as it was once put, gets to pick all the groceries, and fix the meal. This is going to be a lot of fun, and I expect the fans to enjoy the competition.”
Around the NFL
4. Denver Broncos
The Broncos are slated to have $48.5 million in cap space, ninth-most in the NFL. They would have the 11th pick in the draft if the season ended today. This is a seven-win team that could be much, much better with a few key offseason additions—notably a quarterback.
This offseason, expect Denver to be involved in any trade buzz surrounding the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson—provided there are no developments that indicate Watson’s future availability could be in jeopardy while he faces 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault or misconduct and 10 related legal investigations.
If it can land one of those three, a worst-to-first rise might even be expected.
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have terminated the contract of Antonio Brown, effective immediately,” the Bucs said in a statement. “While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday’s game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play. We have attempted, multiple times throughout this week, to schedule an evaluation by an outside orthopedic specialist, yet Antonio has not complied. Maintaining the health and wellness of our players is of the utmost importance to our organization.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
In 2021, Mahomes faced more adversity than he has during any of his four years as starter — with opposing teams playing more double-high coverage and challenging him to work in the short-to-intermediate areas. Those looks required a new discipline from Mahomes, who made much of his NFL living on the deep ball heading into the year.
“I think the biggest area of growth is that I’ve just learned to be patient,” said Mahomes. “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.”
After a tough night against Denver — this week’s opponent — in Week 13, Mahomes has played much more efficiently in the last four weeks. He completed 65% of his passes in the Thursday night win over the Los Angeles Chargers and was 74% or higher in games against the Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.