Hats off to Chiefs GM Brett Veach. He actively placed immense pressure on himself this offseason by trading Tyreek Hill, and his club is still humming along like it has every season to date during the Patrick Mahomes era. The cruising nature of this Chiefs team is partly due to the acquisitions that were able to be made in the wake of the Hill trade. The team enters Week 13 sitting in first in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, and Mahomes is averaging a league-high 325.9 passing yards per game, which is also the most he’s averaged in any season of his NFL career. Now, if they lose to the Bengals for the third time in a row, a small collection of skeptics will appear. I will not be one of them.
But on Tuesday, Mahomes was full of anxiety as he watched the U.S. men’s national soccer team defeat Iran 1-0 in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been that nervous for a team,” Mahomes said Thursday during his weekly appearance on KCSP (610 AM). “It was like I was back and I was a fan again. Usually I watch sports these days and I kind of just like watching. I like watching great sports and all sports, but with soccer in the USA and that pride that you have of we want to go out there and win, I was nervous just like any other fan.”
The United States held on for the victory and finished second in Group B behind England. That means the Team USA advanced to the Round of 16, and it will play the Netherlands on Saturday.
“I’m excited for them to get to the knockout stage,” Mahomes said. “I mean, obviously that’s the first goal is come in and you’ve got to win your division first. So they got into the knockout stage and are playing the Netherlands, who’s gonna have a great team, and I’m excited for those guys to go out there and accept that challenge.”
We’ll make the argument that Mahomes’ 10-year, $450 million contract, despite being the largest contract in sports history, is the Chiefs’ best-value contract. By average per year value, Mahomes ranks fifth among current quarterbacks. All the quarterbacks ahead of Mahomes — Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Deshaun Watson — signed their deals this past offseason. Rodgers’ and Murray’s contracts are the biggest indicators of future contracts, with Rodgers becoming the first $50 million-per-year quarterback and Murray’s first non-rookie deal exceeding the APY set by Watson’s $230 million fully guaranteed deal. These become the negotiation benchmarks for the next class of elite young quarterbacks.
Meanwhile, the contract for arguably the most talented quarterback in football currently is locked-in well below that threshold. It also has no guaranteed money attached to it after the 2024 season and no dead money after 2025. Mahomes’ cap hit in 2023 is a big chunk, but it goes down the following season and — outside of one record-setting $59.95 million projected cap hit in 2027 — does not eclipse that number again until 2030.
Chiefs solve Bengals defense in playoff rematch
Last year in the AFC title game, the Chiefs led the Bengals 21-10 at halftime. Patrick Mahomes was 18 of 21 for 220 yards and three touchdowns at the break, and even though Kansas City failed to score on its final drive of the first half, it looked a whole lot like the Chiefs were in control. We all know what happened next: The Bengals changed their defensive scheme at halftime, started dropping eight defenders into coverage and taking away all deep and even intermediate throws, and Kansas City’s offense ground to a half. Mahomes went 8 of 15 for 55 yards and two interceptions in the second half, while also taking four sacks. That’s not going to happen this time around. Kansas City has built its offense to take advantage of when defenses try to force them into the same types of throws that Cincinnati did last year, and with Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster, can repeatedly move the ball down the field in smaller chunks with relative ease. Cincinnati surely won’t show up with the exact same plan anyway, but whatever it is, Mahomes, Andy Reid, and Co. will be ready for it and come away with a win where they light up the scoreboard.
Reid talks trash ahead of Bengals-Chiefs
Justin Reid apparently doesn’t care about poking the bear. Or maybe the Chiefs safety thinks he and his team are the proverbial bears entering Sunday’s AFC Championship Game rematch. Reid acted like he didn’t know the names of Bengals wideout Tee Higgins and tight end Hayden Hurst when asked about the matchup. Reid essentially doubled down when Bengals Pro Bowl wideout Ja’Marr Chase messaged him via Twitter.
Hurst, who is enjoying a breakout first season in Cincinnati, clearly took offense to Reid’s comments.
“He could pick anybody in this locker room, but I feel like I’m the last person you probably want to talk shit about,” Hurst said. “I have a long memory.”
Here is #Chiefs Andy Reid reacting to @ByNateTaylor's question about Mahomes and Nagy canoodling before the draft and @HerbieTeope's question about Justin Reid's comments this week.— PJ Green (@PJGreenTV) December 2, 2022
Think this team is ready to play right now. pic.twitter.com/P1wNyKA6Tz
Bold prediction: The Chiefs will sack Burrow four times. The Chiefs got him only once in last year’s AFC Championship Game, this in between the Bengals allowing nine sacks to the Titans and seven to the Rams. But the Chiefs’ pass rush is far more productive this season — they are fifth in the league with 35 sacks and have 21 sacks in the last five games. Cincinnati has allowed 35 sacks, fifth most in the league this season. — Adam Teicher
Stat to know: Mahomes is 1-2 in his career against the Bengals, including the playoffs, with both losses coming last season (he has never lost three games to the same opponent). His 85 career starts, including the playoffs, without losing three games vs. the same opponent is the furthest into a quarterback’s career since 1950.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Jahmyr Gibbs RB
Gibbs is a first-round talent, so the plan was to wedge him into the first round somewhere. Kansas City makes a lot of sense, as head coach Andy Reid will be able to unlock his potential.
Around the NFL
Hutchinson said Thursday he thought he would be playing in Jacksonville “for about three months, and then a week before the draft, something changed.”
“I guess my arms were just not quite long enough, but that hit a week before the draft,” Hutchinson said. “I mean, we’ll see if that inch or couple inches was the difference.”
Hutchinson was referring to Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke’s well-known obsession with arm length in defensive linemen. Walker’s athletic profile fit Baalke’s tendencies to a T.
The offensive tackle underwent an emergency appendectomy and will miss the Packers’ Week 13 game against Chicago, the team announced.
Bakhtiari tweeted an explanation Friday afternoon, telling his followers he thought he may have strained his abdomen and brought up the discomfort to the team doctor, who discovered he needed an appendectomy immediately. Bakhtiari’s procedure was successful, and he will spend the following days recovering from the surgery.
What a crazy day. Thought I may have strained my abdomen or something this morning so I brought it up to our team Doctor. Next thing I know, I’m having surgery. Did not expect this. Everything went well. Thank y’all! https://t.co/V2Fdn7Jmp8— David Bakhtiari (@DavidBakhtiari) December 2, 2022
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Cincinnati’s elite weapons gave the Kansas City defense fits in two meetings last season. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo knows that against one of the league’s best receiving corps, his unit will have to be focused on stopping game-changing plays — just as they were during Sunday’s 26-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
“We talk about explosive passes every week,” Spagnuolo told reporters on Thursday. “Last week was one of the few [games] where we did not have a pass play over 20 [yards] — I think we had a couple [of] other games like that. That makes a huge difference.
“Let’s face it, every offense in this league is going to prey upon explosive passes. It gets them going; it flips field position. Our guys are playing with good technique. We’ve had certain coverages to eliminate that.”
Though a counter-argument can be that selling out for the big play leaves a defense vulnerable underneath, Spagnuolo maintains that long drives — with more opportunities for defenses to capitalize on mistakes — better suit the defense.
“There was a play in the game last week,” he recalled, “where it was evident that they were taking a shot — and we took it away. Now the quarterback found the [running] back, and it ended up being a 15-yard gain because we had taken away all the deep guys. But we’d like to keep doing that — because I believe if you make a team drive the field, somewhere along the way, you can make a play.”
A tweet to make you think
Patrick Mahomes in a league of his own right now pic.twitter.com/kvyawBHApl— PFF (@PFF) December 2, 2022