The final leaders in fan votes for the Pro Bowl Games, with fans counting 1/3 (along with players and coaches).— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 19, 2022
Top vote-getter? Tua Tagovailoa. pic.twitter.com/Tm6rsFfjW5
Kansas City Chiefs: Is their defense tough enough?
The defense showed up, as well. Houston averaged just 3.8 yards per play on Sunday and all of its scoring drives were set up by Kansas City turnovers or third-down penalties that extended drives. And it was the defense, not Mahomes, that put the game away—Frank Clark stripped a scrambling Davis Mills from behind to give the offense a short field for the game-winning score.
The concern with this Chiefs team remains the same, however. It’s not a particularly tough team, especially on defense, and tackling opposing ball carriers has been an issue for two years running. Kansas City currently ranks 24th in Pro Football Focus’s tackling metric, and while that isn’t going to cost it a win against a team like Houston, it will in bigger games against better opponents. It’s already happened in marquee losses to Buffalo and Cincinnati earlier this season, the two biggest threats in the conference. And even on Sunday, Houston averaged 2.5 yards after contact on run plays, and Chiefs defenders missed several opportunities for tackles behind the line of scrimmage or short of the sticks. If that issue doesn’t get squared away over the next month, it could end Kansas City’s season.
6. Tight end Travis Kelce made some more history on Sunday.
Kelce continued his march into the record books on Sunday, passing Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe for the fourth-most receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history (10,150). Only Tony Gonzalez (15,127), Jason Witten (13,046) and Antonio Gates (11,841) remain in front of him.
The All-Pro tight end caught 10 passes for 105 yards in the game, marking his 32nd regular-season performance with 100+ receiving yards since 2016. That’s the second-most such games in the NFL during that time, trailing only Davante Adams (37).
Patrick Mahomes will break NFL record for pass yards in a season
Overreaction or reality: Reality
Mahomes is sitting at 4,496 passing yards through 14 games, averaging 321.1 yards per game. Peyton Manning owns the single-season record for pass yards with 5,477, so Mahomes needs 982 passing yards in his final three games to break the mark (325.7 yards per game).
This is more than attainable for a quarterback who is the reason why his team is one of the best in the NFL. The Chiefs need Mahomes to play at MVP-level every week and he delivers. Mahomes needs just 754 yards in his last three games to set the league record for pass + rush yards in a season (Drew Brees has that mark with 5,562).
Both records are in play. Mahomes will get the hardest one to accomplish.
NFL Officiating tweeted this: “In KC vs HST, KC was penalized for a blind side block. The ruling on the field was the runner’s forward progress was stopped. However, the ball was loose immediately upon contact by the defender, making the play reviewable.
“Replay confirmed the loss of control recovery by the defense. The penalty was added to the conclusion of the play.”
Replay confirmed the loss of control recovery by the defense. The penalty was added to the conclusion of the play.— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) December 18, 2022
After the game, Smith-Schuster spoke with the NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe about the play. “I did fumble. I’ll be a man and own up to it,” Smith-Schuster said.
But what really makes Mahomes difficult to defend is not the absurd.
But the mundane.
Lost in all the highlight-reel moments he has shown over the years is the fact that Mahomes also does the little things that matter so much at the position. Yes, he can break the pocket and make throws like this, flaunting all the rules of quarterback play. Yes, he can make no-look passes with pinpoint accuracy. He can do all of those things that lead SportsCenter and kids mimic in the street after school.
Around the NFL
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts sprained his right (throwing) shoulder against the Chicago Bears, league sources told ESPN, putting his availability for Saturday’s game at the Dallas Cowboys in question.
It is not considered a long-term injury, a source said. If Hurts can’t play Christmas Eve, veteran Gardner Minshew will get the call.
Any missed time for Hurts will be about getting strength and functionality in his shoulder back to 100 percent for the long haul, a source said.
The Rams were officially eliminated from postseason contention Monday night with their 24-12 loss to the host Green Bay Packers. With three weeks remaining in the season, the Rams tied the 1999 Denver Broncos for the earliest elimination of any defending Super Bowl champion in history, according to NFL Research.
“I mean this has been a real struggle in a lot of instances, a lot of adversity that we’ve gone through, but I think what we’ve seen from our guys is they’re going to continue to battle, they’re gonna finish up these last three games the right way, with the right mindset and mentality, and we’ll compete to the best of our ability,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said after the game. “That’s all I know how to do, and I trust that that’s exactly what we’ll do collectively as a group.
A little more than a week after Baker Mayfield arrived and delivered a stupendous come-from-behind win over the Las Vegas Raiders, reality set in once again Monday in regard to just how trying a campaign this has been for last season’s champs.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
“For the second half, can we have Lionel Messi kick our extra points via Zoom?”
“Okay, I give up. Which member of the Chiefs organization stole Carl Cheffers’ girlfriend in high school?”
“Yes, the past two weeks have been rocky, but we always knew the Broncos and Texans games were the brutal part of the schedule.”
“You think these missed kicks and turnovers are annoying now? Just wait until the playoffs!”
“Instead of ‘AFC West Champions,’ they’re passing out T-shirts reading, ‘Congrats on barely beating the freakin’ Texans.’”
A tweet to make you think
Sammy Watkins— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) December 19, 2022