10. OT ORLANDO BROWN JR., KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
After threatening to hold out for the 2022 season following a franchise-tag saga that didn’t culminate in a long-term deal, Brown turned a slow start into a strong second half protecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. From Week 10 to the end of the regular season, Brown’s 88.7 pass-blocking grade ranked third best among left tackles.
He may not become one of the game’s true top tackles given his much-maligned athletic limitations, but he’s a very reliable blindside protector who has succeeded in two diametrically opposed offensive schemes.
Reason for hope: The Chiefs don’t strike as quickly as they once did, but they are still potent offensively. They lead the league in scoring, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the favorite to win MVP. There’s room for growth, too, if they can reduce their turnovers and improve a 75% field goal percentage, which is tied for 30th in the NFL.
Reason for concern: The Chiefs have the league’s worst kicking game, which is one reason some of the league’s bottom-feeding teams have hung around in recent games. They’ve missed eight field goals and five PATs, forfeiting a total of 29 points directly with their kicking game while their opponents forfeited six (two missed field goals and zero missed PATs). This could be a fatal flaw against superior opponents they face in the playoffs. — Adam Teicher
QB PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Second Team: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Mahomes has been the best quarterback over the course of the season. In any given stretch, he was rivaled by Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Burrow, but Mahomes has been the one constant. His 91.3 overall PFF grade is more than 10 grading points higher than his mark last season and represents his fourth year above 90.0 in five full seasons.
27 - Isiah Pacheco
Kansas City Chiefs · Rookie
2022 stats: 17 games | 170 att | 830 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 13 rec | 130 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 2 fumbles lost
The Chiefs underwent an offensive transformation last offseason, with the seventh-round rookie being one of many new faces. Making his first start in Week 7, Pacheco, the team leader in carries, rush yards and rush TDs, has added a physical element to the Chiefs’ ground attack and stands out in a crowded room that also features veterans Ronald Jones II and Jerick McKinnon.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: B.J. Ojulari, edge, LSU
Carmen: The Chiefs need some youth in their edge rotation and Ojulari could be the spark that allows Kansas City to continue getting the most out of their veteran starters.
Around the NFL
Packers coach Matt LaFleur simultaneously gave defensive coordinator Joe Barry a vote of confidence while he also broached the subject of a return by Nathaniel Hackett, the former Green Bay offensive coordinator who was fired as Denver Broncos coach last month less than a year into his tenure.
“I think I’ve definitely entertained all that,” LaFleur said Monday. “I think you can never have enough great coaches, and certainly you guys know how I feel about Nathaniel and the job he did here. But again, just getting started into the evaluation phase. I did talk to him after he got let go in Denver. I know that he needs some family time as well.”
Part of Staley’s way is making unconventional decisions. He’s built a reputation for being aggressive on fourth downs. The Chargers had 29 fourth-down attempts in the regular season, the second most in the AFC, and he boldly elected to go for a game-winning two-point conversion instead of settling for an extra point to tie in Week 12 versus the Arizona Cardinals. Staley’s gamble paid off for a win in Arizona, much like more than half of the team’s fourth-down attempts (51.7% conversion rate).
“To me, you have to establish a mindset within a football team. The biggest thing is you’re not afraid to fail and you’re gonna try to play the game on your terms and not somebody else’s,” Staley said. “The way we play, we want to dictate the terms of the game – force teams to defend us and not the other way around. And then, showing the confidence that you have in your whole football team.”
“I think really what you make out of it is the experience is probably overrated, to be honest with you,” Daboll said Monday via the New York Post. “It’s how you prepare, how you practice and ultimately how you play the game and coach the game on whatever day it is.”
Yes, Sunday will mark Daboll’s first time leading an NFL team as a head coach, but he’s been on plenty of playoff clubs. He won five Super Bowls with the New England Patriots as an assistant. He won a college national championship with Nick Saban at Alabama. And he went to the playoffs each of the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator in Buffalo.
All three coordinators on his staff have Super Bowl rings of their own: defensive coordinator Wink Martindale won with the Baltimore Ravens, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka won with the Chiefs and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey won with the Giants in 2007.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Sometime in May, we’ll learn exactly when all these games will be played. But here’s what we know so far.
Kansas City will play eight of its 17 games against teams that are in the 2022 playoffs: the Chargers (twice), Bills, Bengals, Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars and Vikings. Five of those games will be at home, while three will be on the road. The Chiefs will play three other teams — the Patriots, Lions and Packers — that were still in postseason contention going into the final week of the 2022 regular season. One of those games will be at home, while the other two will be on the road
A tweet to make you think
Former #KState QB Michael Bishop and former #Mizzou WR Jeremy Maclin will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. List also includes former #Chiefs Eric Berry (Tennessee) and Derrick Johnson (Texas) pic.twitter.com/u5Et6Gjx5x— Harold R. Kuntz (@HaroldRKuntz3) January 9, 2023