The Chiefs can beat you in a lot of different ways, but their favorite way is to use Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, and that’s what they did against Seattle. Mahomes threw for 224 yards, and more than HALF of those yards went to Kelce, who caught six passes for 113 yards. As good as the Chiefs’ offense was, the defense might have been better. The unit shut down Seattle on third down, holding the Seahawks to just two conversions on 14 attempts. The pass rush also caused some serious trouble for Geno Smith, who was sacked twice while also throwing an ugly interception. After two straight weeks of playing close games, Chiefs fans were probably thrilled to get a win that was wrapped up early in the fourth quarter.
Mahomes is the rightful MVP. Can we use a little common sense here? Statistically, visually, adjusting for context—however you do the math, the answer is Mahomes. When the Chiefs traded the most explosive receiver in the league, Tyreek Hill, they were betting on Mahomes making up the difference, and it was an extremely safe bet. His leading rusher is Isiah Pacheco. His two best wide receivers, Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdez-Scantling, are familiar names to fans, but the Steelers and Packers are two of the league’s better-run organizations, and they were willing to let those two guys go without much of a fight.
Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be. Is there anybody outside of Philadelphia—or even in Philadelphia—who would seriously rather have Jalen Hurts than Mahomes? This is not a knock on Hurts! He has been great. “I’d rather have Patrick Mahomes” is not an insult. But come on. Put Mahomes on the Eagles, and they would still be having the best season of any team. Put Hurts on the Chiefs, and there would be a dropoff.
Kenneth Walker III
There’s no doubt that Walker is not at 100% but he was one of the few offensive bright spots on the day. Walker rushed for over 100 yards on 26 carries and had much improved effectiveness when Shane Waldron finally started spamming handoffs under center as opposed to shotgun and pistol.
Another week, another big kick return. He mishandled a kick later on in the game and funnily enough that resulted in a long drive that produced Seattle’s only non-garbage time points. Just sign him to the active roster, already!
I counted only one target towards Woolen and it was the deep shot to Justin Watson that he broke up. He’s good. He’s damn good.
3) Will Patrick Mahomes have to play a postseason game as a member of a visiting team for the first time in his career?
Mahomes has 11 career playoff starts. Nine have been in Arrowhead Stadium, the two others in the Super Bowl. If the season ended today, Buffalo would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Here’s the thing: I don’t expect the Bills to hold onto the top spot. I expect the Chiefs to earn it.
They’re currently tied with Buffalo at 12-3 for the conference’s best record, but the Bills own the tiebreaker based on a head-to-head victory on Oct. 16. That said, look for the Bills to lose on Jan. 2 at Cincinnati, thereby opening the door for the Chiefs to garner the top seed with wins over the Broncos at home and the Raiders on the road.
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Chargers can clinch a playoff berth with a win Monday Night at Indianapolis.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 26, 2022
Why the Dolphins lost
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers and turnovers. The Dolphins were getting whatever they wanted offensively on Sunday until running back Raheem Mostert’s fumble at the end of the first half. That allowed the Packers to end the half with a field goal that trimmed Miami’s lead to seven, 20-13. Tua Tagovailoa’s three consecutive interceptions led to two Packers field goals, and the end of the game. Teams that lose the turnover battle more often than not lose the game.
It was the Broncos’ 10th loss in their past 12 games, and they are still 0-for-America in away games this season, with their only “road” win coming over the Jacksonville Jaguars in London’s Wembley Stadium, when they were designated the visiting team.
“I think they’re upset for all the losing, we all are,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said of the meltdown. “Every one of us, that’s unacceptable, that’s not what we’re about, that’s not what we want to do. We went in with a mindset we were going to win this game, but in the end we weren’t ready. ... It wasn’t good, it’s all of us.
“ ... It always starts with me, without a doubt, that’s embarrassing, I’m embarrassed. That’s not what we’re about, that’s not what we’ve done all year.”
The GOAT comes in clutch. In a game where neither team could pull away and points were at a premium, it all came down to who could execute when it mattered. And with his team’s season possibly on the line, it was Tom Brady who showed his experience and poise under pressure in leading the Buccaneers to victory in the end. After the Cardinals took a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, classic Brady finally emerged after three-plus quarters of mediocre play. Tampa first executed a touchdown drive in under two minutes to close the gap, and then after a lucky fumble by the Cardinals, were able to again score, this time a field goal to tie the game at 16. Then in overtime, Cardinals QB Trace McSorley couldn’t manufacture more than one first down on the first possession, and Arizona handed the ball to Brady with ample time and a chance to win with any score. Brady did not falter, nailing all six of his passes for 69 yards to set kicker Ryan Succop up to win it with a 40-yard field goal. Neither team played like a winner for most of Sunday’s game, but in the extra time Brady showed why he continues to be known as the GOAT, engineering a clutch game-winning drive to preserve the Buccaneers’ NFC South lead and give them a chance to clinch the division next week.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Tight end Travis Kelce: It’s almost every week. Every season, Kelce goes for over 100 receiving yards. Against Seattle, most of them came on one drive in the fourth quarter, when the Chiefs essentially put the game out of reach with a touchdown drive. Sure, Kelce had one early catch he left on the field, and he seemed to blame himself, but that was quickly forgotten as Kelce led all receivers in this game.
Wide receiver Kadarius Toney: The stats weren’t eye-popping, but Toney’s presence was felt on the field this week. The route running and suddenness were evidence of a player that can be a big factor down the stretch. He scored the game’s first touchdown this week on the little “pop pass” as he weaved through traffic on the way to the end zone. That’s an element the Chiefs have been missing.