In their 27-24 win on Sunday. Germaine Pratt even forced a Kelce fumble that flipped the game’s momentum as Cincinnati trailed in the fourth quarter.
Kelce was reticent to give Pratt a lot of credit during an episode of his ”New Heights” podcast this week.
“I handed them one man,” Kelce told his All-Pro center brother, Jason. “That s*** stings, the way I wasn’t accountable for my guys, knowing how big of a moment that was and having ball security is you know, the number one thing that needs to be on your mind when you have the ball in your hand in a moment like that.”
And there was a time when Wilson could give Mahomes all he wanted. In a December 2018 game, Wilson and Mahomes engaged in an iconic duel in Seattle.
Wilson completed 18 of 29 for 271 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.
Mahomes was 23 of 40 for 273 yards with 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.
And the winner was? Wilson’s Seahawks, 38-31.
“I’ve got to know Patrick a little bit along the way,’’ Wilson said Wednesday at his weekly press conference. “We’ve done a couple things together. I love his demeanor. I love his energy. Obviously, he can make great, spectacular plays. He’s a great scrambler. He can really do some special things when he gets outside the pocket. He’s got great players around him, too, that make some great plays. (Travis) Kelce and other guys. Just love the competitor that he is.”
Four years later, no is expecting a fair fight Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High. Certainly the executives of Sunday Night Football don’t expect a good game. They dumped the game off primetime with the Broncos-Chiefs now kicking off 4 hours, 15 minutes earlier at 2:05 p.m
It makes sense for the Chiefs to give Smith-Schuster his well-deserved pay raise. His chemistry with Mahomes and his fondness for Kansas City are just some of the reasons Smith-Schuster could stay. But few things speak louder than the almighty dollar. Smith-Schuster came to Kansas City on a “prove it” deal, and he is proving it so far. His next contract will likely be at fair market value, both in terms of length and guaranteed money.
The wide receiver market has changed in recent years due to big-money contracts for Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, and A.J. Brown. It is a sign of the times and the rising salary cap in the NFL. 14 NFL wide receivers currently have deals worth more than $20 million per year. Smith-Schuster stands to join that group after the 2022 season. But Kansas City could pay him before he hits the open market.
According to Over the Cap, Smith-Schuster has outplayed his current contract in nine of 11 games. That includes his 12 receptions for 237 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. Smith-Schuster is hitting his stride with Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid. If Veach is even leaning towards keeping Smith-Schuster in Kansas City, he should start extension talks sooner rather than later.
A contract extension will be sizeable but certainly cheaper than those signed by Hill, Adams, and other elite-tier wide receivers. Still, his contract should resemble that of Deebo Samuel and D.J. Moore. Especially Moore, who signed a three-year, $61.8 million contract extension with the Carolina Panthers effective after his age-25 season. Before the extension, Moore was fresh off a 93-catch, 1,157-receiving-yard season. Granted, that was Moore’s third year in a row of such production. But the Panthers had the luxury of drafting Moore and having a head start on extension talks. Nonetheless, Smith-Schuster’s extension value and length could be similar to Moore’s.
Sutton had been the only steady presence in the group. He caught 52 passes for 688 yards and a touchdown over the first 11 games of the season but was targeted just once in the opening action against the Ravens before he dropped out.
Assuming Jeudy’s return from an ankle injury progresses further and he’s able to play at least some against Kansas City, the Broncos’ top three options are likely him, Kendall Hinton and undrafted rookie Brandon Johnson.
Two more rookies, undrafted Jalen Virgil and fifth-round pick Montrell Washington, likely round out the Broncos’ receiving corps.
“All three of those guys, they get so much credit for coming in here and then going out there and competing,” Hackett said. “You’ve got Jalen, you’ve got Brandon, you’ve got Montrell, guys that were bright-eyed when they first got here, didn’t know where they were going to be and now they’re about to go play against the Kansas City Chiefs at home, which is a very big stage. …
“For this game, there’s an aspect of rhythm and every quarterback is a little bit different and every wide receiver is a little bit different. You have to figure that out and feel that rhythm — when you have to scramble, when you’re going to get the ball, how long you have to work against press (coverage). There’s so many different coverages that these guys face compared to what they faced in college.”
Although Mahomes has a 67-19 career record as a starter, including the playoffs, he is well aware that he and the Chiefs are 0-3 against the Bengals and Joe Burrow. “I don’t know if you call it a rivalry,” Mahomes said Monday on KCSP (610 AM). “We haven’t beat them yet. So until we beat them, that is not really a rivalry. They just have beat us a couple times now. So I’m sure we’ll play them a lot in the following years and maybe again in the playoffs if we match up again there.
“But there’s a lot of good teams in the AFC, so we have to just continue to get better and better and prepare ourselves to make a playoff run.”
The loss Sunday dropped the Chiefs’ record to 9-3 and they were knocked from the top spot in the AFC playoff race behind the Bills.
But Mahomes is confident the Chiefs can finish the season strong.
“We understand where we’re at,” Mahomes said. “Obviously, everybody is disappointed we lost (Sunday), but we know that if we can continue to win a lot of football games we can go get what we wanted from the beginning of the year. And so it’s just about how you build, how you build and continue to get better.
Around the NFL
The timing of the Tennessee Titans parting ways with general manager Jon Robinson was rather odd to say the least.
With five games to go for the Titans (7-5), the closest team in the AFC South is the Indianapolis Colts (4-8-1), and the Titans hold the fourth seed in the AFC playoff seeding. Yet, Robinson found himself without a job Tuesday because Titans team owner Amy Adams Strunk wanted to go in a different direction.
“I believe there is more to be done and higher aspirations to be met,” Adams Strunk said in a team statement.
Such a sudden decision raised questions around the league about whether or not there was some kind of off-the-field issue that led to a well-respected general manager like Robinson, who had held the position since 2016, to be fired. A team source told ESPN that Robinson’s departure had nothing to do with anything beyond football.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on NFL Live that Adams Strunk was unhappy about not being included in a lot of conversations regarding the franchise.
Robinson selected Brown with the No. 51 overall pick in 2019, and Brown became the first rookie receiver to produce a 1,000-yard season for the Titans/Oilers franchise since Ernest Givins did so in 1986. The Titans traded Brown to the Eagles on draft day and used the first of the two picks (No. 18) on receiver Treylon Burks.
Von Miller’s knee injury news went from bad to the worst this week after Bills head coach Sean McDermott announced Wednesday that an exploratory operation revealed Miller had torn his ACL, ending his 2022 season.
Miller was undergoing exploratory surgery on his injured knee when doctors found he’d suffered an ACL tear, requiring a repair, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. An earlier MRI and related imaging did not adequately show the injury, leading doctors to believe they only needed to address Miller’s lateral meniscus and damaged cartilage.
Miller was initially believed to have avoided significant damage to his knee when he was injured in Buffalo’s win over Detroit on Thanksgiving, and Miller even hoped to return in time to face the Jets in Week 14. Buffalo soon decided to give him a longer runway for return, placing him on injured reserve in order to prevent further aggravation and increase his chances of returning as healthy as possible for Buffalo’s postseason run.
With a month off, Miller had time to undergo surgery to address the meniscus and cartilage issues. Unfortunately, it ended up producing a season-ending operation.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Henry Anderson has been out since late October with an “illness,” which he revealed to have been a minor stroke on Wednesday after his return to practice.
Speaking with reporters for the first time since being placed on the reserve/non-football injury list, Anderson said he was hospitalized for “a few days,” but he is now “all good” and the issue was “resolved pretty quickly.”
Anderson, 31, said he experienced numbness in his legs and slurred speech on Oct. 22, leading to his wife taking him to the hospital, per the Associated Press:
“I didn’t know much about strokes but I found out more about them and realized I got pretty lucky avoiding anything serious and long term,” Anderson said. “I am glad that I was kind of oblivious when it happened because I would have been a little more panicked had I realized what was going on. But like I said, I got pretty lucky.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Last week, I wrote about the Kansas City Chiefs’ improved four-man pass rush. The Chiefs were generating more sacks, blitzing less and still generating a good amount of pressure. When your pressures and sacks are better while sending fewer blitzes, that’s typically an indication of an improved pass rush.
As it happened, I couldn’t have written that at a worse time.
One week later, all the warts of the Chiefs’ four-man pass rush showed up. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was touched once the entire game, and that play was entirely Burrow’s fault. On 32 dropbacks, Burrow had a clean pocket on 25 attempts.
This problem of not being able to generate pressure on Burrow remains. In the AFC Championship game, the Chiefs only sacked Burrow once on 16 pressures. The Chiefs did generate four sacks in week 17 last season, but Burrow was pressured on 37% of his dropbacks. The linemen couldn’t finish plays against an awful offensive line.
It’s not that Burrow is a difficult player to sack. Coming into the week, Burrow was sacked on 27% of his pressures — the third-highest in the NFL. The Bengals give up the fifth-most sacks in the league. According to ESPN, the Bengals’ offensive line ranked 30th in pass block win rate.
Even given all those factors, the Chiefs can’t seem to affect Joe Burrow. One thing stood out in particular when watching the game: the lack of an edge rush. In three games against Burrow, the Chiefs’ edge rushers have 2.0 sacks. The lack of pressure was even more glaring this week.