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Arrowheadlines: Patrick Mahomes is the front-runner for NFL MVP

Chiefs headlines for Friday, October 7

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Kansas City Chiefs v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The latest

Ranking NFL MVP candidates, awards picks through Week 4 2022 | ESPN

Defensive Rookie of the Year

3. Jaylen Watson, CB, Chiefs

Stepping in as a starter when first-round pick Trent McDuffie went down with a hamstring injury in the opener, Watson might not be giving back the right cornerback job once McDuffie is ready to return. Watson, a seventh-round pick, was not supposed to be covering the opposing team’s top wide receiver, but because the Chiefs keep him one side of the field, he has gotten a disproportionate percentage of his targets against stars such as Mike Evans, Michael Pittman Jr. and Mike Williams.

Watson has allowed two touchdowns in two weeks against a pair of standouts — Evans and Marquise Brown — but has made enough plays to more than make up for those scores. Watson has generated minus-8.9 expected points added (EPA) as the nearest defender in coverage so far, which ranks second among rookie cornerbacks. He has broken up four of the 28 targets in his direction, but his most notable play helped swing a game for the Chiefs, as he took a Justin Herbert pass 99 yards to the house for a pick-six.

Most Valuable Player

1. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

Mahomes doesn’t have the rushing volume we’ve seen from the guys below him on this list, but he makes up for it by being the league’s best passer. He generates 0.30 EPA per pass play, and he does it over a larger volume than anybody else in the top seven besides Allen, who hasn’t been as effective on a snap-by-snap basis.

The explosive, touchdown-from-anywhere offense the Chiefs ran during Mahomes’ MVP campaign in 2018 probably isn’t coming back anytime soon. What has replaced it is ruthless efficiency. Mahomes turns just under 43% of his pass attempts into first downs. The only other player above 40% is Tagovailoa, who doesn’t throw as often. Mahomes’ interception and sack rates are among the best in the NFL, and he has only one fumble, so he almost never produces negative plays.

Allen would be a fair pick, given how much ground he makes up on Mahomes with his rushing performance. Hurts is playing wonderful football for the best team in the league. Jackson is carrying the Ravens seemingly single-handedly at times. We’re blessed to live in a time with so many exciting young quarterbacks. As much as we take his performance for granted, though, Mahomes has still been the best of the bunch through four weeks.

Ranking most efficient NFL routes: Best, worst teams and players | ESPN

6. Post (1.9 yards per route run)

This is a deep, inside-breaking route where the receiver releases vertically before breaking towards the goal posts.

Most and least efficient pass-catchers: Rams receiver Cooper Kupp has been extremely efficient and productive on post routes (5.2 yards per route). His 247 receiving yards on posts since the start of 2021 is far more than anyone else (Stefon Diggs is second at 192). Chiefs wideout Mecole Hardman, meanwhile, has been just the opposite. We have him running 39 post routes since the beginning of last season and recording just two targets and zero receptions. — Walder

Chiefs’ Travis Kelce reveals item he wears in-game since historic 2020 season | Fox Sports

Kelce told Fox News Digital in a recent interview he is not one for having any superstitions these days but did point to one thing he has been doing since he broke the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season, which he accomplished in 2020 with 1,416 yards and an AFC Championship.

“I think the biggest thing for me I was wearing a wristband on my left arm now because the COVID year. I wore it then because we were putting tracers in the wristbands for contact tracing for COVID. I was wearing them all day everyday in practice, walking around the facility and I wasn’t wearing them in the game because they were built into our pads,” Kelce said.

“So, it was kind of like I was naked out on the field. I started wearing it in the game and sure enough, I had the most receiving yards ever by a tight end in a single season and I just been wearing it ever since. I don’t know if it has much to do with superstition. It feels like I’m naked out on the field when I don’t have anything on my arm.”

The Chiefs’ Rookies Continue to Stand Out in Positive Ways | Arrowhead Report

Isiah Pacheco

On Sunday night, we saw why the hype train for Isiah Pacheco was out of control during training camp. He had his highest yardage output against Tampa Bay and is starting to build a case to get more playing time. The physical tools are there with Pacheco, as he has the top-end speed to stretch the defense but is also physical like a power back. Once the seventh-rounder gets going, he’s a forceful runner that is hard to bring down. He was constantly picking up extra yards and putting the Chiefs’ offense in better positions in Week 4. One thing that you can see improvement in is his vision. He was more patient and waited to see the play develop before choosing which hole to hit against Tampa Bay.

5 underrated Chiefs performances in Week 4 vs. Buccaneers | Chiefs Wire

K Matthew Wright

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This kicker is so new to the team that I almost called him Michael in our slide title. I didn’t have a great amount of confidence in Mr. Wright heading into this game given the disaster that was Matt Ammendola a week ago. Well, he sure proved me wrong, nailing all seven of his kicks with five extra points and two field goals on the night. For those keeping track, that’s 11 of the team’s 41 points in a game the team won by 10 points. There’s no telling if Wright will get another week or if Harrison Butker will return to the lineup, but he certainly proved consistency and reliability in Week 4.

Week 5 NFL game picks: Surging Cowboys upset Rams; Ravens top Bengals on Sunday night | NFL.com

Kansas City Chiefs 33, Las Vegas Raiders 27

WHERE: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)

WHEN: 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes

MONEYLINE: Raiders: +270 | Chiefs: -345

SPREAD: Raiders +7 | O/U: 51

I’m still waiting for the breakout Derek Carr game. That’s what it will take to keep up with Patrick Mahomes. It’s not likely to happen against a Chiefs defense that has quietly improved since last year, just like the offense.

Around the NFL

How red-zone struggles again plagued Russell Wilson, Nathaniel Hackett in Broncos’ OT loss to Colts | Sporting News

The Broncos entered their “Thursday Night Football” game against the Colts being bad inside the opponents’ 20. They had a 30 percent touchdown rate, dead last in the NFL. Then proceeded to leave the field horrific. After an 0-for-4 night, the Broncos now have a red-zone touchdown rate of 21.4 percent, the worst since the 2008 Rams, according to Jeff Kerr of CBSSports.com.

Adding insult to injury, the Broncos held the Colts without a touchdown in their two red-zone trips, lowering their NFL-best opposing TD percentage to 27.3. The defense is doing everything it can to help the Broncos win. The offense isn’t answering the call.

Wilson is a big part of the problem. He was 1 for 6 with an interception in the red zone Thursday, and he missed seeing a wide-open K.J. Hamler on the fourth-down play that ended the game. But the play-calling by coach Nathan Hackett was also confusing, to say the least. Stephon Gilmore’s interception in the end zone kept the Colts alive in the fourth quarter, and his pass breakup in the end zone won the Colts the game.

Le’Veon Bell to fight ex-UFC fighter Uriah Hall on Oct. 29 | ESPN

Former NFL All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell will face ex-UFC fighter Uriah Hall in a pro boxing match Oct. 29 in Glendale, Arizona.

The four-round contest has been contracted at 195 pounds and neither man can be above 200 pounds on weigh-in day, per officials. Bell and Hall, who are making their professional boxing debuts, will wear 10-ounce gloves. The card is being promoted by Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions and distributed by Showtime pay-per-view.

“I’m just as excited to watch Hall versus Bell as I am for Paul versus Silva,” Most Valuable Promotions co-founder Nakisa Bidarian said. “You have a legitimate top-10 MMA striker versus a world-class athlete who has proven he has true boxing skills and knockout power. This fight elevates our pay-per-view to a new level and these guys will undoubtedly put on an unforgettable fight for the fans in the stands and those tuning in.”

What if the NFL Draft had no age limit? 16 players who would have benefited most from NBA-style rules | CBS Sports

RB Derrick Henry, Alabama

Henry was listed at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds coming out of Yulee High School in Florida. Does that sound like the frame of a player incapable of taking on would-be tacklers in the NFL? Over a three-year period, he recorded 620 offensive touches for the Crimson Tide, which is conservatively two seasons worth in the NFL.

In 2020, the running back signed a four-year deal worth $50 million. If he had arrived in the NFL two or three years earlier, he would have reached that second contract sooner. He could have earned an additional $25-plus million during his career without even considering the marketing potential.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Patrick Mahomes sees Travis Kelce winning in different ways at age 33

Kelce has the most catches, yards, and touchdowns among all tight ends this season; he also has the most catches resulting in a first down (21), the second-highest mark among all NFL pass catchers. Through a quarter of the season, he’s on pace to total 1,368 yards and 12 scores by the schedule’s end — and the touchdown mark would be a career-high.

So how does he continue racking up this production if he isn’t the same caliber of athlete anymore? His quarterback detailed his answer when he was asked by reporters before practice on Thursday afternoon.

“I think he’s just smarter as a player, that’s the biggest thing,” Mahomes said. “He knows how to get himself open, he knows how to use other people and other parts of the concept to get himself open. He’s smart about how he blocks, how he can pin guys and get in the right position... he has just continued to evolve and be even better as a tight end.”

Kelce used to be known for his catch-and-run ability — taking advantage of the mismatches that occurred when defenses treated him like a traditional tight end. Now, a lot of Kelce’s damage is done at the intermediate level of pass coverage, using his high-football IQ to find throwing windows against zone defenders — or manipulate a man defender with head fakes and incredibly quick breaks out of cuts.

In fact, 10 of his 26 catches have come on passes 10 or more yards downfield; on those receptions, he has totaled 192 yards and two of his four touchdowns. The success in that area of the field speaks to his ability to win before the throw, not after.

A tweet to make you think

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