1. PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Previous Ranking: 1
Patrick Mahomes can not do literally everything for this offense. Someone has to catch the passes.
Nobody stepped up to the plate on Monday night. Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropped a potential winning touchdown. Justin Watson dropped a game-ending pass on fourth-and-25 that hit him in the mitts. The Kansas City Chiefs‘ flurry of other underneath and gadget receivers contributed close to nothing. Even Travis Kelce, the backbone of the pass-catching group, struggled with some key drops and a red zone fumble.
Mahomes, for the most part, was excellent. His pocket management, scrambling and keyhole ball placement at times were fantastic. He just didn’t get an ounce of help.
3 - Patrick Mahomes
Aside from an off-kilter end-zone pick, Mahomes was not to blame for K.C.’s close loss to the Eagles. Once again, his freestyling nearly saved the Chiefs’ unreliable WR corps from itself, but drops remained an issue until the buzzer. This hasn’t been a perfect year for No. 15, but he’s had to do way too much on his own, including as a scrambler.
2 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 7
2023 stats: 10 games | 67.1 pct | 2,619 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 19 pass TD | 9 INT | 296 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles
The lack of a true difference-making receiver is now officially costing the Chiefs games, no matter what Mahomes does. He couldn’t have placed his pass in a better spot for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to score the go-ahead touchdown Monday night — only to see the ball bounce out of the veteran’s hands. That was the story of a night in which Mahomes was dialed in, but was repeatedly let down by his targets. Travis Kelce dropped a pass (and fumbled away a red zone possession), Valdes-Scantling didn’t deliver, and Justin Watson couldn’t come through on a late third down. Mahomes is a superstar, but he’s not quite a superhero. He deserves better.
Kansas City Chiefs: Week 14 vs. Buffalo Bills
The division is realistically still the Chiefs’, but this could be critical in case the talented Bills make a home-stretch run as juggernauts such as Kansas City, Buffalo, Miami et al battle for the top seeds in the conference.
Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders
These are not the typical Andy Reid-Patrick Mahomes Chiefs. After Monday’s loss against Philadelphia, the Chiefs are 14th in the NFL in points scored (their lowest ranking since 2014) and are third in the NFL in points against (their highest ranking since the 2015 season).
All five Raiders home games have gone under this season, while only two games have gone over. Chiefs games against AFC West rivals have gone under this year. The over/under for Sunday’s game is set at 44 points. Only one Raiders game has exceeded 44 total points this season, while only three Chiefs games have.
Kansas City? Lately, it has been more like Drop City.
“I have no regret,” Mahomes said of the big one that got away with just under two minutes on the clock. “They trip-teamed Travis, so I went to the guy that won downfield. We just didn’t come away with the ball. I could’ve probably thrown it a little bit shorter. He was that open.”
With that response, Mahomes demonstrated the class and leadership layered on top of the spectacular skill that endears him to Chiefs fans. As much as he could have, he didn’t throw his receiver under the bus. Instead, he pointed a finger at himself.
If only Mahomes could catch his passes, too.
Still, the fact that Valdes-Scantling, a sixth-year veteran, was nowhere to be seen after the loss on Monday night – leaving teammates to address what happened – points to another problem: accountability.
Apparently, Valdes-Scantling opted to avoid speaking for himself. It was reminiscent of what happened following a Week 1 loss here against the Detroit Lions that was also stained by key drops. And after that game, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore dodged the post-game questions.
Around the NFL
Sanders, who stunned everyone when he retired just as the Lions were going into training camp in the summer of 1999, recently opened up on his decision to walk away while still in the prime of his career.
“For me, just that thing that drove me to play, which is that passion, just wasn’t there,” Sanders said in Amazon’s new documentary on the Hall of Fame running back. “There was nothing really left to play for. I didn’t see us as any kind of a serious Super Bowl contender. ... I felt like I was making a pretty clear decision. I just felt like, in my mind, this is pretty much it.”
Sanders’ comments on the matter in 2023 are similar to the ones he penned in the article announcing his retirement 24 years earlier.
“The reason I am retiring is simple: My desire to exit the game is greater than my desire to remain in it,” Sanders wrote. “I have searched my heart through and through and feel comfortable with this decision.”
Yet, he woke up Tuesday morning to his phone buzzing non-stop and saw the news that coach Mike Tomlin fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
“I wasn’t aware of any moves that were going to be made,” Pickett said Wednesday. “... You hate to see it. You don’t want to see one of your coaches lose their job. We all got to be better. Called coach [Canada], wished him well. We had a great conversation, but you got to bounce back quick and get ready to go.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Speaking before practice, quarterback Patrick Mahomes claimed that the team’s inability to connect on deep passes — infamously seen on the team’s final drive on Monday night — allows teams to focus more heavily on Kelce.
“I think y’all can see it on the tape,” the face of the league observed, “they’re putting two or three guys on him. They understand how much of a threat he is and how well he’s played for a long time now. So, they’re trying to take him away the best they can. It’s my job to get it to the right guy so we can execute.
“If we hit some of these deep passes that we are missing, it’s going to take teams out of those double teams and triple teams.”
In the locker room on Wednesday, running back Jerick McKinnon lamented that no other Chiefs player has seemed to step up given the attention Kelce commands.
“Just a little double teams,” he explained, “they’re going to make it tough on him. He’s leading us right now, and I were a defensive coordinator, I’d probably do the same thing. He demands that respect, and I think teams have shown that throughout the year. Leave room for somebody else to step up. We’ve got depth. We’ve got players. It’s just about who’s going to step up. When one of us steps up, we’ll get this thing going.”