The NFL announced its officiating crew on Tuesday for Super Bowl 57, and Carl Cheffers - who served as referee in Super Bowl 51 and 55 - is getting the nod once again as lead referee. Chiefs fans, of course, remember Cheffers’ work in Super Bowl 55 where the Chiefs were called for 120 penalty yards on 11 penalties.
The Super Bowl LVII officiating crew: pic.twitter.com/y63WiFsEEl— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) January 24, 2023
But Cheffers hasn’t been kind to the Chiefs in general, which includes this year. Cheffers has accounted for 17 percent of the Chiefs’ total penalties and 20 percent of their penalty yards this season (postseason included) despite only working two of their games.
In the Chiefs’ Week 15 game against the Houston Texans, Kansas City was called for 10 penalties and 102 yards. So, it’s understandable that the Chiefs wouldn’t be thrilled to see Cheffers get that assignment.
And yet, even for the best of franchises, winning a championship usually comes down to one or two plays. Consider: Tom Brady is 7–3 in Super Bowls, but you could turn five of the wins into losses by changing the result of a single play. You could also turn two of the losses into wins by changing one play.
Mahomes has already won one Super Bowl. He will have more chances after this. He is on the verge of winning his second MVP award and someday will be voted into the Hall of Fame. But when he is done playing, games like this week’s will color our view of him, and maybe his own view of himself. It might not be entirely fair, but it’s the truth.
Kansas City has had a year to think about that play at the end of the half, the rushed interception Mahomes threw in the second half and the failure to gain a single yard after winning the coin flip in overtime. Mahomes might be limping with a high ankle sprain. The Bengals might be better. But the opportunity is there, and even for a team like this, those opportunities are precious. Karlaftis might have turned off his TV last year, but that Chiefs-Bengals game lingers, even for him.
“I’m sure we’ll watch it” this week, Karlaftis said. “I’m sure guys will be, like, almost disgusted by it. It’s a chance to go to the Super Bowl. You don’t want to mess it up.”
Why the Chiefs will win Super Bowl 57
1. Patrick Mahomes’ playmaking. Mahomes has been the MVP for carrying a new-look offense beyond Travis Kelce and his reliable line. He’s making it work with whoever’s around him and he’s gone back to being on point with his execution and efficiency after a mini-slump last season.
2. Even more playoff experience. The Chiefs are the new Patriots with Mahomes. They expect to be in consistent position to get to the Super Bowl and win it as the highest-floor contender in the AFC. They’re the only one of the four teams to get a ring with the core of its current roster.
3. Big plays on defense. The Chiefs count on Mahomes and the offense to put pressure on opponents to pass as well as they do. If Steve Spagnuolo’s pass rushers and cover men are put in good one-dimensional positions, they can change games with sacks and takeaways.
High ankle sprain recovery time
Recovery from either a normal ankle sprain or high ankle sprain can take weeks to months. But as Mahomes demonstrated last weekend, professional athletes can perform even while they’re recovering – depending on certain factors.
The key factor is stability of the ankle, said David Oji, an orthopedic surgeon who treats athletes at Stanford University with foot and ankle injuries.
“If the ligaments are functioning, as long as his pain and his symptoms are very mild, they can aggressively rehab him and get him back to play,’’ Oji said.
Pain threshold is a factor, according to Oji, who said, “Everybody’s pain threshold is different.’’
Pain seemed of little consequence to Mahomes, who after the Chiefs beat the Jaguars told the media, “I’m not coming out of a playoff game unless they take me out. I’m just going to play. I love this sport too much.”
The injury can affect Mahomes’ mobility and ability to plant his right foot and throw.
Former Patriots and Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski is the single-season touchdown holder for tight ends with 17 and jokingly said he fears Kelce breaking his mark.
“I was just on his podcast the other day and I told him, ‘Hey, man, it’s great what you’re doing for the position,’” Gronkowski said. “But I said, ‘You’re not allowed to break one record — my tight-end touchdown record.’ He can break them all, but that one’s not allowed.
“He is just so savvy in his route-running abilities. How loose he is; I would say that also contributes to why he has never missed a game. You can tell just the way that he runs — he’s super loose, super free. His body is just very spongy when he’s out there playing — just the way he runs routes and gets open is super impressive. He has had seven 1,000-yard seasons in a row — for a tight end, never been done — it’s just unbelievable.”
4. Chiefs vs. 49ers
We just saw this one in 2019, when Patrick Mahomes won his first ring at age 24. But a lot has also changed since then: Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers QB at the time, is now sidelined in favor of Brock Purdy, although there’s a chance Jimmy G himself could be recovered from injury to serve as Purdy’s backup in this year’s big game.
The revenge factor is the driving force here, with Kyle Shanahan surely eager to offset his 31-20 defeat in Super Bowl LIV. But there are plenty of other storylines as well: Purdy’s chance to edge the NFL’s best QB on the biggest stage as “Mr. Irrelevant,” Nick Bosa’s opportunity to disrupt Andy Reid’s offense like the Buccaneers did in the 2020 title game, the Travis Kelce-George Kittle tight end battle.
In an ideal world, I’d get to personally evaluate Mahomes’ injured ankle before I make a pick for this game, but I’m starting to feel like that’s not going to happen, so I’m just going to have to suck it up and make my pick.
Since 2014, there have been a total of 13 AFC or NFC title games that have been rematches from the regular season and in those 13 games, the team that won during the regular season has gone 10-3 in the title game rematch.
Burrow is 3-0 against Mahomes with all three games being decided by exactly three points and the Bengals are going for their third straight playoff win. Also, Burrow has never lost in January (7-0), he’s never lost a road playoff game (3-0) and I think we all know where I’m going with this pick.
The pick: Bengals 27-24 over Chiefs
30 - Kansas City Chiefs
Antonio Johnson, S
School: Texas A&M
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo finds ways to tap into the versatile talents of high-IQ defenders with loaded toolboxes.
Around the NFL
To commemorate 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy, the service will conduct a flyover of State Farm Stadium during the national anthem with female aviators as part of the formation. The formation will be composed of an F-35C Lightning II from the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, two F/A-18F Super Hornets from the “Flying Eagles” of VFA-122, and an EA-18G Growler from the “Vikings” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129.
The NFL previously announced that international icon, Rihanna will headline the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show, which will be produced by DPS with Roc Nation and Jesse Collins serving as executive producers, and Hamish Hamilton serving as director.
The reality is that the Denver Broncos need something far bigger than a splashy new head coach. They need a complete shift in culture as an organization at every level.
The No Bull truth is this team has turned into a perennial loser and that losing culture has permeated the Broncos from top to bottom.
The only hope this franchise has is that the new owners are going to turn things around by not putting up with the festering, infected belief systems that have gotten ahold of the front office, players, and coaches.
So I, for one, am not reading the latest news of the Broncos not scheduling Sean Payton for a 2nd interview as something that is a bad thing or a sign of incompetence. My hope is that what we are seeing is a leadership group that is going about it their way on their timeline in order to change this franchise back into a competitive team that has the firepower, will, and proper mindset needed to win.
“If I knew what I was f***ing doing, I’d have already f***ing done it.”
Tom Brady is fed up with everyone asking if he’s going to retire ... ‘cause the legendary quarterback just unloaded on his ”Let’s Go!” SiriusXM podcast cohost Jim Gray for trying to get an update on his decision.
The awkward moment went down as the two discussed the remaining teams in the NFL playoffs on Monday ... when Gray switched topics to Brady’s future.
“Tom, you’re leaving everybody guessing,” Gray said. “You said you’ll take your time. Do you have any type of a timetable as to what you might want to do regarding your football career?”
That’s when Brady hurled his expletive-filled response ... clearly annoyed with having to discuss the topic.
“I’m taking it a day a time,” Brady added.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Patrick Mahomes was down. His ankle and knee were in two different directions from his torso. This looked incredibly serious.
Were the Chiefs’ Super Bowl hopes over? Was this going to linger into next season? How could the team respond emotionally with its best player being out?
All of this floated through my head throughout that moment, but head coach Andy Reid doesn’t have the time to dwell on stuff like that during a game. Reid had to immediately manufacture a game plan around backup quarterback Chad Henne, who would need to lead the offense enough to win a game.
We only saw Henne for one drive, and he led what could become one of the most famous drives in Chiefs’ history, should Kansas City win a title. The Chiefs were pinned at their own two-yard line but went on a surgical 12-play drive that culminated in a touchdown that gave the Chiefs a two-score lead. The playcalling, execution, and composure of everyone involved were excellent.