Highest-graded player: QB Patrick Mahomes (87.1)
Of course. Mahomes is still playing at an elite level and is the fifth-highest-graded quarterback in 2023. He’s third in passing yards (2,444), fourth in touchdown passes (17) and has the lowest pressure-to-sack rate in the NFL (9.4%).
Biggest surprise: WR Rashee Rice (79.4)
The rookie leads all Chiefs wide receivers in catches (32), yards (378) and touchdowns (4) in 2023.
Kansas City Chiefs: LB Leo Chenal
We could have gone with running back Isiah Pacheco here, but that’s just too easy.
The improvement shown from Leo Chanel from year one to year two has been fantastic. He’s been excellent in Nick Bolton’s absence, and he looks to be a cornerstone piece for the Chiefs moving down the line as an impact playmaker on both defense and special teams.
In two weeks, perhaps Hurts will be pick. There’s a strong argument with Hurts, playing for weeks on a tender left knee, leading the Eagles (8-1) to the NFL’s best record. If he leads Philadelphia to a victory in the Super Bowl rematch at Kansas City in Week 11, it solidifies the case.
Then again, with a brutal schedule on the horizon, it may be a week-to-week plot.
Mahomes, meanwhile, hasn’t been as efficient or dominant as we’ve seen in the past. Yet he still ranks third in the league in passing yards and fourth in TD passes while playing with an evolving receiving corps. That the reigning MVP is challenged to match the standard that he has demonstrated for several years is, well, a problem that most others can only wish for.
Patrick Mahomes will win his second straight — and third overall — MVP
This is a much bolder pick than it would have been at the season’s start. At 7-2, the Chiefs are tied with the Ravens for the best record in the AFC, and Mahomes is third in the league with 2,442 passing yards, third in Total QBR at 73.0 and fourth with 17 touchdown passes. But he has had to overcome the Chiefs’ shaky pass-catching group, which has dropped more passes (21) than any other team. No matter — look for Mahomes to make it all work for the Chiefs en route to winning more hardware. — Jason Reid, senior Andscape writer
Chiefs: Wide receiver
Projected key free agents: DT Chris Jones, OT Donovan Smith, S Mike Edwards, LB Willie Gay Jr., CB L’Jarius Sneed, WR Mecole Hardman
The offense has been more of an issue for Kansas City than the defense. While rookie Rashee Rice has been improving, the Chiefs pass-catchers have 15 drops on the year, which is the seventh most, according to TruMedia.
The offensive tackle additions of Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor have been underwhelming as well. They have allowed 42 combined pressures, according to TruMedia, which is more than any other tackle pairing.
Pro Football Focus released its midseason All-Pro team this week, and multiple members of the Chiefs made the cut. Surprisingly, quarterback Patrick Mahomes wasn’t one of them. Tight end Travis Kelce (first team), left guard Joe Thuney (second team) and cornerback Trent McDuffie (first team) are recognized for their efforts this season and join some of their talented NFL peers.
Kelce has outstanding offense (84.2) and receiving (90.1) grades this year, as well as 57 receptions for 597 yards and four touchdowns to boot. Despite battling injuries and Father Time in 2023, he remains the NFL’s best tight end. Kansas City has relied on Kelce to help keep the offense afloat, and he’s answered the call several times. Here’s what PFF wrote about Kelce making its top team:
Around the NFL
Coach Jonathan Gannon made the announcement Friday morning, putting to rest any doubts about Murray’s status.
“Honestly, I’m excited for the guy,” Gannon said. “I’ve seen what he’s had to go through the last eight months or so — however long I’ve been here — and what he’s put into it and how bad he wants to be out there and the competitor that he is.
“He wants to be out there with the guys and help his team win. So that’s what I’m most excited to see.”
No damage was found in an MRI on Tuesday, but his bad back could keep Ja’Marr Chase out of the lineup on Sunday.
In the Bengals’ Week 9 victory against the Buffalo Bills, Chase skied for a high ball and came down with an ugly thud on his back. He didn’t leave the game, but he did miss practice on Wednesday before returning in a limited capacity on Thursday and Friday.
On Thursday, Chase delivered his MRI news and added that he was dealing with a back bruise.
Chase’s loss Sunday would be monumental individually, but it will be magnified in combination with wideout Tee Higgins (hamstring) being out. Charlie Jones is also listed as questionable due to a thumb injury.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
DC STEVE SPAGNUOLO
VOTING: DC Steve Spagnuolo (9), CB Trent McDuffie (3), TE Travis Kelce (2), QB Patrick Mahomes (2), DT Chris Jones (1)
Steve Spagnuolo has largely met expectations for his first four years in Kansas City.
In 2018, Patrick Mahomes’ first season as the starting quarterback, the Chiefs combined the league’s most prolific offense with among the most inept defenses. For the 2019 season, Spagnuolo was hired to replace the embattled defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. His charge: put together a competent, if not spectacular, squad that would provide sufficient cushion for Mahomes’ heroics to win games.
The Chiefs made the right decision, bringing the longtime playcaller for the New York Giants and former St. Louis Rams head coach.
A tweet to make you think
"COME ON TWO TWO ..."— Brad Symcox (@BritChiefUK) November 11, 2023
McDuffie happily obliged ✌️ https://t.co/p16ySC0hXj