3. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
2022 stats: 1,736 passing yards, 17 TDs, 4 INTs, 74.2 QBR (113 rushing yards)
Current odds: +500
A lot was made about how the Chiefs offense would function without wide receiver Tyreek Hill. His absence has forced Mahomes to spread the ball around and become a more efficient, patient passer. And through six games, Mahomes and Allen are tied for first with 17 touchdown passes. Mahomes continues to be incredibly effective when under pressure, ranking first in touchdowns per pass attempt and third in first downs per pass attempt, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
But the pressure he faced late in Week 6 determined the outcome for the Chiefs. Against the Bills, Mahomes accounted for 92% of Kansas City’s offense when he threw for 338 yards, two touchdown passes, two interceptions and completed 63% of his passes. While Allen led Buffalo on a touchdown drive to take the lead late, Mahomes responded by throwing an interception while under duress, his third pick on a game-winning drive attempt dating to last year’s AFC Championship game.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-2, 1st in AFC West)
How far will Kansas City go this season?
Anytime you have Patrick Mahomes under center, you’re going to be a contender. He’s tied with Allen for the NFL lead with 17 passing touchdowns, and has eight passing touchdowns when pressured this season — which is twice as many as anyone else. It is a bit worrisome that Mahomes has a 54.9 passer rating in the fourth quarter this season, which ranks second-worst in the NFL. Both of the Chiefs’ losses have come when they’ve had the lead in the fourth quarter.
Something I’m waiting on with the Chiefs is for this wide receiving corps to find its rhythm. We saw a little bit of that against the Bills on Sunday, as JuJu Smith-Schuster went for 113 yards and one touchdown, but I want to see Marquez Valdes-Scantling do more. The Chiefs’ pass defense ranks sixth-worst in the league, but K.C. does have the fourth-best run defense.
The New York Times and its playoff simulator had the Bills with a 35% chance at the top seed entering Week 6, with Kansas City just behind at 25%. Today, the Bills’ chances in this model have increased to 55%, while the Chiefs are down to 10%—just ahead of their division rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers, at 8%.
FiveThirtyEight and its model had a much closer race between the Bills and the Chiefs this time last week, with the Bills having a 41% chance at the top seed, and the Chiefs nipping at their heels at 39%. Today? Buffalo is at 66%, while Kansas City is down to 14%.
Kansas City Chiefs
Question: Is the defense good enough?
Look, the offense isn’t without concerns. The running game is hardly a threat, and the passing game hasn’t yet replaced the gravity of Tyreek Hill creating space vertically.
The opposite side of the ball is a problem, though.
Steve Spagnuolo is an aggressive coordinator, and Kansas City often uses pressure in attempt to mask its issues. There are many examples of his philosophy working, too. But if the Chiefs aren’t successfully creating havoc that way, they’re pretty much stuck.
The result is a secondary that has allowed the sixth-most passing yards per game (266.0) and a staggering 15 touchdowns to just one interception. Plus, the D-line lacks a consistent disruptor beyond Chris Jones.
Kansas City should be headed to the postseason again, but there is reasonable doubt surrounding this defense without an impactful addition or two.
2 - Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes is still the magician of the position, forever capable of fearless and improbable throws. If he didn’t have to rely so much on himself and Travis Kelce in their offense, he’d remain a lock at No. 1, not having to force one too many balls. (-1)
2 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 6
2022 stats: 6 games | 65.9 pct | 1,736 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 17 pass TD | 4 INT | 113 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble
Browns acquire: DE Frank Clark
Chiefs acquire: 2023 fifth-round pick
In the scenario where Jordan lands in Kansas City, Clark and his lucrative contract could be shipped out after several underwhelming seasons. The Browns already have a pair of big-name pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, but both starters have been banged up, their “D” badly needs reinforcements, and they’ve got money to spend. As a bonus, Cleveland is Clark’s hometown.
6 - Travis Kelce
Against the Bills, Kelce had his biggest output in terms of yards since Week 1. The Pro Bowl tight end had 108 receiving yards on eight receptions, tying Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez for the second-most games (31) with 100-plus receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history. Only Rob Gronkowski has more with 32.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Kobie Turner DL
WAKE FOREST • SR • 6’3” / 290 LBS
Chris Jones gets a pass-rushing running mate on the interior in Jones.
Around the NFL
He was concussed in Miami’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 when he hit his head on the ground while trying to extend a play, and was briefly hospitalized before being discharged and returning to Florida with the team after the game.
Tagovailoa said he doesn’t remember what happened immediately after hitting his head on the ground and losing consciousness but does remember being driven to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center via ambulance, as well as his trip back to Miami with his teammates early the next morning.
“I wouldn’t say it was scary for me at the time because there was a point where I was unconscious, so I couldn’t really tell what was going on,” he said. “When I did come to and kind of realized what was going on and what was happening, I didn’t think of anything long term or short term. I was just wondering what happened.”
“I feel defeated,” Jackson said. “I just feel like I’m not just being me.”
Jackson, who the Chargers signed in March to a five-year, $82.5 million deal that made him one of the highest-paid corners in the NFL, has allowed a 155.3 passer rating in coverage this season. That rating is second to last out of all cornerbacks with 10 or more targets, according to Pro Football Focus.
“It’s hard and it’s very disappointing,” Jackson said. “Knowing what I can do and I’m not able to do it. I’m not really playing to my full potential; it’s kind of upsetting.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
2. Position Scarcity
The Chiefs are clearly pacing towards another playoff appearance — meaning that in the 2023 NFL Draft, they will be once again be picking in the high 20s to low 30s. Edge rushers of Burns’ caliber don’t last to the 28th pick. While we’ve seen highly-drafted pass rushers who could contribute right away, most first or early second-round picks struggle to be anything more than rotational players. Trading for Burns would bring Kansas City a high-caliber player they would probably not be able to obtain in the draft.
3. Chris Jones
There are two elements in this potential trade that relate to Kansas City’s defensive tackle. The first is Burns’ on-the-field impact. Even while being the primary focus of every offensive line he faces, Jones is having a terrific season. But the best season of his career (15.5 sacks) came when he had good pass rushers on the edge: Dee Ford and Justin Houston. Adding Burns would be great for Jones, because offensive lines could no longer double-team him.
The second factor is that Jones is under contract only through 2023. Given his age, output and current contract, he will be seeking a top-of-market deal like Aaron Donald received. In the past — with the Tyreek Hill trade being the most recent example — the Chiefs have shown that they are not interested in making any player (besides quarterback Patrick Mahomes) the league’s most highly-paid player at their position. Trading for Burns could make Jones more tradeable. Could the Chiefs send a first-round pick for Burns — and get a first-rounder for Jones?