We’ll call it the Andy Reid Bowl. Reid’s current team versus the club he helmed for 14 seasons but couldn’t get over the Lombardi hump — that’s a fun tale. The two No. 1 seeds could be on a collision course. Patrick Mahomes has played like an MVP candidate despite a season of change on offense. The magician still finds a way to move the chains and make jaw-dropping plays every week, even when the chunk gains are stifled. Mahomes playing in a Super Bowl is a win for all, regardless of the opponent. But facing an Eagles defense that allowed the fewest passing yards in the regular season and led the NFL with 70 sacks (15 more than the second-place Chiefs) would be a tantalizing matchup. Would Mahomes be patient enough with the run against an Eagles D susceptible to the ground game?
Then there is the Jalen Hurts-led Eagles attack that’s as dangerous as any in the league when everything is clicking. Hurts’ ability to run against a Chiefs D allowing the fifth-most yards on the ground to QBs would be tremendous. Add in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith against young Chiefs corners, and we could get a high-flying shootout. Oh, and the last time two No. 1 seeds met in the Super Bowl, the Eagles took down Tom Brady and the Patriots for their first Lombardi.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Like Philly, they have a major edge on the field as they’re only two wins away from playing in the Super Bowl. Their playoff opener at Arrowhead would most likely be against the Jaguars or Chargers, who both lost in Kansas City during the season ... though the Bolts’ familiarity with the Chiefs could make that a tough matchup. Still, that’s probably preferable to seeing the Bengals or Bills in the divisional round given both beat K.C. in the regular season. But if the Chiefs reach their fifth consecutive AFC championship game, they’ll almost certainly have to take out Buffalo or Cincinnati, the former at a neutral site while knowing they lost at home to the latter with a Super Bowl berth on the line last year.
And as good as the Chiefs have been adapting to life without WR Tyreek Hill this season – salute to QB Patrick Mahomes, who’s probably going to be the league MVP for the second time – it remains to be seen how they’ll do without Hill’s explosiveness in the playoffs. In his last eight postseason contests with K.C., Hill’s impact was undeniable (61 catches for 812 yards and five TDs), and the Chiefs would never have escaped the Bills in last year’s legendary divisional game without him.
TE - Travis Kelce
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 10
Have the folks in Canton started measuring Kelce for his gold jacket yet? This generation’s best tight end celebrated his 33rd birthday in October, but Kelce has shown no signs of slowing down, breaking 1,000 receiving yards for a seventh consecutive season and reaching a new career high for receiving touchdowns (12) in his first season played without Hill in the Chiefs’ huddle. Kelce was as important as ever to Kansas City’s offense this season, with his 110 receptions serving as proof. He dominated the Next Gen Stats metrics, finishing with +155 yards after catch over expected. The months pass, and still, Kelce remains the same game-changing tight end he’s been for much of the last decade.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Mahomes has firmly established himself as the NFL’s best passer. And since there isn’t a real threat to his current spot atop these rankings, this postseason will be about building on his already impressive legacy. Mahomes is the greatest talent I’ve ever seen play the position. But if he wants to catch Tom Brady and be viewed as the greatest quarterback ever, he’ll need to win a few more rings.
Andy Reid, Chiefs
We tend to forget how great a coach Reid is. Then he loses his most dangerous player, Tyreek Hill, and standout safety Tyrann Mathieu, yet leads Kansas City to the top of the AFC.
31. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: TE LUKE MUSGRAVE, OREGON STATE
As hard as it may be to believe, Travis Kelce is going to be 34 years old next season. At some point, his play has to drop off. And athletes like Musgrave don’t come along every draft class. He’ll get to learn from the best to ever do it while also allowing the Chiefs to deploy a unique 12 personnel look.
Siaki Ika DL
BAYLOR • JR • 6’4” / 358 LBS
The Chiefs get a menacing, wide-bodied interior rusher to pair with Chris Jones.
Around the NFL
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been ruled out for Sunday’s wild-card game against the Buffalo Bills, coach Mike McDaniel said Wednesday.
The third-year pro has been in the concussion protocol since Dec. 26 after suffering his second documented concussion of the season the day before in a loss to the Green Bay Packers. McDaniel said that Tagovailoa has not been cleared to resume any sort of football activities and that because of the amount of time he has already missed, McDaniel was able to rule him out.
McDaniel said the Dolphins are preparing for rookie Skylar Thompson to make his third career start Sunday; veteran Teddy Bridgewater is still working his way back from a dislocated pinkie finger on his throwing hand, and his possible availability is unclear.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Prior to the arrival of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the franchise had earned four first-round byes in the 33 years since the playoffs were expanded from 10 teams to 12 in 1990 — each one of them leading to a painfully-memorable Divisional round loss at Arrowhead Stadium.
But with Saturday’s 31-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, the Chiefs locked up their fourth bye week of the previous five seasons — all of them with Mahomes as the team’s starting quarterback — doubling the total that the franchise had earned since 1990.
Head coach Andy Reid needed help to get the Chiefs over what had felt like a curse. So following the team’s home Divisional loss in the 2016 playoffs — something that had never happened to Reid during the 14 seasons he was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles — the team traded up in the first round to acquire Mahomes in the NFL Draft.
After 31 years as an NFL coach — 24 of them as a head coach — Reid is widely known as the master of bye-week preparation. Including regular-season weeks off, he has a 27-4 record after a bye.
“That’s the trick to it,” explained Reid to reporters on Monday, “[it’s] the balance: how the players utilize their free time — and coaches, for that matter. We’ve got to make sure that we keep on top of the scheme stuff, too.
“We’ll see how all that works out — but yeah, I’ll tell you that’s the trick to it: to keep the balance to where the players stay sharp and coaches still can add a couple things into [the guys’] mix and go from there.”
A tweet to make you think
Dodgeball! Precision passing! Gauntlet! Lightning round!— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 11, 2023
The 2023 Pro Bowl Games skills competitions are now official: pic.twitter.com/R64IBFAndx