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Arrowheadlines: The Chiefs could be priced out of re-signing Mike Danna

Chiefs headlines for Friday, December 8

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The latest

2024 NFL Free Agency: 12 Players Teams Could Let Walk | The 33rd Team

MIKE DANNA, DE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

The Kansas City Chiefs‘ defense has jumped from 11th to fourth, and its strong pass rush (39 sacks, sixth-most) has led the way. Mike Danna has played a large role, contributing a career-high 6.5 sacks along with 39 tackles in his first year as a starter.

Danna was a fifth-round pick in 2020. He has set himself up for a nice payday in March, but it likely won’t be with Kansas City, which has $31 million in 2024 cap room but only 34 players under contract. QB Patrick Mahomes’ salary — his 2024 cap hit is more than $57 million — is always an obstacle.

The Chiefs have plenty of other pass rushers, led by DT Chris Jones. Jones’ contract will also be up, but Kansas City will make sure its four-time Pro Bowler stays. At defensive end, the Chiefs have George Karlaftis (eight sacks) and first-round rookie Felix Anudike-Uzomah, along with Charles Omenihu.

NFL Week 14 expert picks and odds for Cowboys vs. Eagles, Chiefs vs. Bills and every other game | The Athletic

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Bills quarterback Josh Allen has played significantly better the past two games but has still thrown an interception in eight consecutive games.

The Chiefs have the NFL’s third-best scoring defense but are not heavily dependent on turnovers, sitting 24th in the NFL with just 14 takeaways.

The Chiefs are 2-3 in their past five games, scoring 19.4 points per game during that stretch. This is the lowest their scoring offense has ranked (11th) in a season since the 2016 season when Alex Smith was still the starting quarterback.

The Bills enter the week in 10th place in the AFC standings with a 6-6 record and play one of the NFL’s toughest remaining schedules with Kansas City, Dallas and Miami all remaining.

Buffalo is 1-7 against the spread in its past eight games.

Travis Kelce’s Game-Worn NFL Jersey Breaks Record for His Item amid Taylor Swift Buzz | Bleacher Report

The star tight end saw his jersey sales spike nearly 400% in September after it was revealed he was dating the pop star. His Instagram followers also saw a dramatic increase.

The latest person to profit off of the Kelce-Swift buzz wasn’t actually Kelce, but someone who owned one of his game-worn jerseys.

According to TMZ, a jersey worn by Kelce in the Kansas City Chiefs’ Nov. 18, 2019 game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City — a game that took place before the two were dating — sold for $37,000 on Goldin Auctions. Kelce had 92 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs’ win over the Chargers.

The auction owner, Ken Goldin, said that the number is an all-time record for a Travis Kelce game-used item. Goldin said that Kelce’s link to Swift has added value to his items among collectors.

Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs: H2H analysis of strengths and weaknesses | Buffalo Rumblings

KC’s strong third-down percentage and completion percentage also match up well with Buffalo. Once the ball is in the red zone, the overall stats suggest a toss-up between the two teams. The Chiefs’ touchdown rate there doesn’t match the rest of their overall stats and appears to show some weakness there. The Bills’ red zone defense looks to be a relative strength.

Don’t expect Patrick Mahomes to hit the turf too often as they’re the second-best team at avoiding sacks. On the flip side, if anyone can manage a couple takedowns, the Buffalo Bills are one of the safest bets as the second best at doing so. Buffalo’s blitz rate sits at 23.2%, which is 13th in the league — and that’s good news as it means they aren’t sacrificing coverage all that often to hit home.

So yes, the best guess is that Kansas City is going to move the ball. That doesn’t count the Bills out though as KC’s interception and overall turnover rates are in the “bad” category according to my rule of four. Buffalo’s turnover rate is excellent, and the defense will likely need to prove it the rest of the season to help stack some wins.

Chiefs Creed Humphrey is NFL’s best run blocking center since Week 8 | Chiefs Wire

The shift away from Andy Reid’s usual pass-first attack has surprised some fans, but given the job that Kansas City’s offensive line has done in recent weeks as run blockers, the change in identity makes sense.

According to Pro Football Focus, center Creed Humphrey has led the charge in this regard and holds the NFL’s highest run-blocking grade among players at his position.

Week 14 NFL Picks Against the Spread | The Ringer

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am not giving up on this Bills team until they are mathematically eliminated. But let’s at least acknowledge that they face an uphill climb. DVOA gives Buffalo a 12.4 percent chance to get in. The Bills face the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL, according to the betting markets. It really feels like they need to win this game or next week’s game against the Cowboys and then sweep the final three (at the Chargers, the Patriots at home, at the Dolphins).

As for the Chiefs, I have serious concerns about this team. I thought they might be able to get on a roll, but the defense got lit up last week in a loss to the Packers. The good news is they could get linebacker Nick Bolton back for this one.

I initially was leaning Bills here, but the line dipped, and Patrick Mahomes has generally been good in these spots. When favored by three points or fewer, the Chiefs are 12-6 against the spread with Mahomes. I think Kansas City takes care of business.

The pick: Chiefs (-1.5)

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Patriots’ Bill Belichick gets QB, Caleb Williams falls to unexpected team outside top 5 | CBS Sports

Round 1 - Pick 25

Jordan Morgan OT

ARIZONA • SR • 6’5” / 325 LBS

Morgan is a sizable, athletic pass-pro specialist who’d be a sensible pick in Kansas City, especially with the long-term future in mind.

Around the NFL

Patriots exorcise offensive demons, hang on for road win vs. Steelers | ESPN

New England Patriots

Describe the game in two words: Zappe hour. Backup-turned-starter Bailey Zappe gave the Patriots their best quarterback play of the season, becoming the first New England player to throw for three touchdowns in a first half since Tom Brady in 2018.

Pivotal play: Zappe’s 37-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster on the third offensive snap. It was the Patriots’ first completion of 30-plus air yards on the season, as they were 0-for-18 on those throws entering the night, and it reflected their willingness to attack down the field.

Former Jaguars employee accused of stealing over $22 million | ESPN

A former Jacksonville Jaguars financial employee is accused of stealing more than $22 million from the franchise over a four-year period by manipulating its virtual credit card program, according to documents filed this week in U.S. District Court.

The United States Attorney’s Office charged Amit Patel with wire fraud and illegal monetary transaction, alleging that Patel — who held various titles during his tenure with the Jaguars, including most recently manager, financial planning and analysis — used his position as the sole overseer of the franchise’s VCC program to fund lavish personal purchases and cover up his theft.

The Athletic first reported the charges, which were filed in the Jacksonville Division of the Middle District of Florida on Tuesday.

Kicker Robbie Gould announces retirement after 18 NFL seasons | NFL.com

Veteran placekicker Robbie Gould announced his retirement after 18 NFL seasons on Thursday via an article published by The Players’ Tribune.

“Now, although football has been a really great part of my life for the past 18 years, it is with the utmost regard and appreciation that I officially announce my retirement from the National Football League,” Gould wrote in the piece, in which he recapped his winding NFL journey that saw him kick for three franchises (the Bears, Giants and 49ers).

“Will I miss it? Absolutely. The fire to play and to compete definitely still burns, and I’m not sure that will ever go away. As I look back over the entirety of my career, it’s kind of ironic because the thing I’m going to miss the most isn’t really even all that much about the actual game of football. I’ll miss being a part of a football team. The plane rides, the pregame meals, the companionship, the locker room culture, the workouts, and the grind of one unit trying to accomplish a common goal of winning — that part can’t be replaced.

“As the football chapter, this ‘good thing,’ comes to an end, it also opens a door for new endeavors that come my way. Charity work is an integral part of my core values, and I’m looking forward to pursuing more opportunities to give back. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also thinking about all of the golf courses I’ve yet to visit. And in my book, a Little League position titled ‘Coach Rob’ has a pretty nice ring to it.”

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Chiefs News: Defense looks to rebound by coming out faster vs. Bills

The Packers’ established a 14-3 lead after two long possessions, giving the Chiefs only one more opportunity to answer in the first half. Kansas City couldn’t rebound from there in the 27-19 loss, despite the defense getting stops in the fourth quarter.

Finishing strong is obviously key, but leaders like defensive end Mike Danna and cornerback Trent McDuffie acknowledged the unit’s performance has to be better from the jump when speaking to reporters in the locker room on Wednesday.

“We can’t come out flat like we did the past two games,” Danna pointed out. “So whether it’s increasing our preparation this week, improving on our fundamentals and techniques, or simply doing our job. A lot of those plays can be eliminated if we simply just did our job.”

“I couldn’t really tell you what the sole reason is for starting slow, but that’s definitely an emphasis,” McDuffie assured. “The defense has to come out and make a statement by coming out fast, and this weekend we’re looking to do that.”

The four first-half touchdowns allowed over the last two weeks have all come on drives centered around a consistent rushing attack. Both Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs and Packers’ running back A.J. Dillon ran tough through the Kansas City front, highlighting the absence of starting middle linebacker Nick Bolton.

Bolton has not played since injuring his wrist against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 7. He has begun practicing, and he is designated to return possibly as soon as this weekend against the Buffalo Bills. It’s safe to say his defensive teammates are looking forward to his return.

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