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Arrowheadlines: Ja’Marr Chase continues to talk, despite being shut down

Chiefs headlines for Monday, January 1

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The latest

Ja’Marr Chase keeps up Chiefs barbs during, after Bengals loss | ESPN

During and after Cincinnati’s 25-17 loss to the Chiefs that eliminated the Bengals from playoff contention, Chase continued to deliver barbs aimed at the Kansas City defense.

In the second quarter, Chase was whistled for unnecessary roughness after he and Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed engaged in a shoving match after a play.

Then after the game, Chase took credit for sparking the battle with Cincinnati’s AFC rival.

“I started it off,” Chase said. “Their whole defense was mad at me. It started at the beginning of the game. You’ve seen it. Everybody’s seen it. That’s just what I like to do.”

Said Chase of his battle with Sneed: “I just be under people’s skin sometimes. Motherf---er won’t fight me.”

Chase finished the game with 3 catches for 41 yards. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he was lined up against Sneed for 61.8% of his routes.

NFL Week 17 Takeaways: 49ers Moved on Quickly From Ravens Loss | Sports Illustrated

If the Chiefs have shown us anything, it’s that their formula has to be different this year. That much, to me, was obvious in how they closed out the Joe Burrow–less Bengals, and an eighth-straight AFC West title, Sunday.

The final was Kansas City 25, Cincinnati 17.

Closer inspection of the game tells a more vivid story of where the Bengals are.

The Chiefs went into the half down 17–13, and they scored four times after the break. All four times, it was Harrison Butker kicking a field goal. There were big plays on those drives (67- and 24-yard connections from Patrick Mahomes to Rashee Rice, and a 41-yarder to Justin Watson), but two of those drives bogged down inside the 10 and the other two required long kicks from Butker.

Meanwhile, the defense pitched a shutout over the game’s final 36 minutes. And on the Bengals’ final possession, with Cincinnati trying to come back, down 25–17, Steve Spagnuolo’s group posted four sacks. The first two came courtesy of a blitzing Justin Reid, and necessitated a fourth-and-18 conversion from Jake Browning to keep the Bengals alive. The last two came on consecutive plays from George Karlaftis and Chris Jones, forced the Bengals to burn their last two times, and set the Chiefs up to close out Cincinnati on third-and-27 and fourth-and-27.

So here’s the thing: It’s been 16 games. At this point, it seems like we know what the Chiefs have. On offense, with an aging, diminished Travis Kelce, it’s a group with some skill-position balance, but no real No. 1 weapon, which leaves a lot on Mahomes’s shoulders to make it work (one reason why Andy Reid leaned on the run game Sunday). On defense, they have perhaps the most talented group Reid has fielded in his 11 seasons in charge.

With the playoffs coming, it’s time to lean into that. And if Sunday is any indication, and you can check Isiah Pacheco’s numbers to verify this (130 yards on 18 carries), that may already be happening.

NFL Week 17 grades: Steelers receive ‘A’ as offense explodes again; Eagles get ‘F’ for shocking loss to Cards | CBS Sports

B - Chiefs

The Chiefs offense might not be firing on all cylinders just yet, but if this team proved one thing Sunday, it’s that they can win games with their defense and special teams (Harrison Butker kicked six field goals). The Chiefs’ pass-rush absolutely terrorized Jake Browning with six sacks, including two by Justin Reid. The secondary clamped down on Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, who combined for just 60 yards, including only 17 in the second half. The offense still doesn’t look perfect, but Andy Reid is probably thrilled with what he saw in this game. Isiah Pacheco brought the rushing attack alive with 130 yards on 18 carries. And Patrick Mahomes seems to have a new favorite receiver in Rashee Rice, who caught five passes for 127 yards. The Chiefs have struggled at times this year, but the bottom line is that they’re now in the playoffs, and this team is always dangerous in the postseason.

NFL Stock Watch: Ravens clearly league’s top team; Rams look like playoff threat | FOX Sports

Playoff-clinching teams

The Kansas City Chiefs won their eighth straight AFC West title after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Chiefs defense allowed 17 first-half points, including seven on a short field after a Patrick Mahomes turnover. But their defense did not allow another point the rest of the game. It’s a Super Bowl-caliber defense. The question, and something we haven’t worried about in the Patrick Mahomes era, is how the offense will play in the postseason. The offense was better Sunday, minus a few drops. Mahomes looked more in rhythm and they moved the ball well. The Chiefs settled for more field goals than they’d like. but 25 offensive points is more than they’ve scored in a bit.

NFL Rumors: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs ‘Whittled Down’ Playbook Ahead of Bengals Game | Bleacher Report

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, head coach Andy Reid “whittled down” his playbook, meaning there will be fewer plays and personnel packages, and likely fewer players heavily involved in the offense.

Superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes has struggled to find reliable options in the passing game this season outside of tight end Travis Kelce and rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice, and an offensive consolidation could mean even more targets going their way Sunday.

Per Rapoport and Pelissero, the Chiefs also intend on spending less time making offensive substitutions, which should allow them to operate at a faster pace.

NFL takeaways: Week 17 gives insight into playoff scenarios | USA Today

15. How ‘bout them ... Chiefs. Their string of divisional titles under HC Andy Reid reached eight Sunday, the second-longest run in NFL history behind the New England Patriots (2009-19).

16. Though the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl participants last season, certainly aren’t playing like they want to reach Las Vegas in February.

Around the NFL

Nick Sirianni says Eagles need to ‘get things fixed ... fast’ | ESPN

“We have to get things fixed,” he said, “and we have to get them fixed fast.”

A brutal 35-31 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday delivered a major blow to their chances of claiming one of the top seeds for the NFC playoffs. The Eagles had the easiest closing schedule in football, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, and just needed wins over the Cardinals (4-12) and New York Giants (5-11) to secure an NFC East title for a second consecutive year.

Now it’s the Dallas Cowboys in the driver’s seat, needing just a win over the Washington Commanders in Week 18 to clinch the NFC East and likely put Philadelphia on the road for the duration of the playoffs.

“That’s cool. Whatever we’ve got to do. It’s a position we put ourselves in,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “Stay together. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”

Rams clinch playoff spot following Seahawks’ loss to Steelers | NFL.com

Once an afterthought in the playoff formula, sitting at 3-6 after nine weeks, the Rams have transformed since their Week 10 bye into a team that should strike fear into any contender.

Matthew Stafford has been resurgent, a return to form sparked by Cooper Kupp’s availability after missing the first month of the season and fifth-round rookie Puka Nacua’s meteoric rise. Kyren Williams has delivered Los Angeles its first 1,000-yard rusher since 2018, and seven-time All-Pro Aaron Donald has brought along a defense that was shedding salary ahead of the season.

This marks the team’s fifth playoff trip in seven years under Sean McVay.

Where Do Ravens Rank Among NFL’s Best Teams in Recent Memory? | The 33rd Team

Of those 10 No. 1 seeds, the only one that is close to having the same scoring offense and scoring defense of the 2023 Ravens is the 2019 Ravens. Baltimore went 14-2 that season, averaging a whopping 33.2 PPG. Their defense was outstanding, giving up just 17.6 points per game. They outscored their opponents by 249 points, which was a franchise record (by nearly 100 points).

However, the 2023 team is better for several reasons. Jackson is just a much more well-rounded quarterback. He understands the game better and Baltimore has designed an offense under Todd Monken that can be successful in the regular season AND the postseason.

But don’t dismiss the defense. Baltimore has built a defense that can stop the highest-scoring offenses in the league.

The Ravens have faced three of the top four offenses in the NFL this season (not including themselves) and have shut down all three opponents (49ers, Lions, Dolphins). In those three games, they’ve outscored their opponents 127-44. Under Mike McDonald, they have a fast, athletic defense that can match up against any style of offense.

Panthers owner David Tepper appears to toss drink at fans | ESPN

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper was caught on video during Sunday’s 26-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars apparently throwing a drink in the direction of Jaguars fans from his open-air suite at EverBank Stadium.

The video was posted on social media Sunday.

The incident appeared to happen with about three minutes to play after an interception by quarterback Bryce Young, who was so frustrated after a sack early in the game that he threw a tablet on the sideline.

A Panthers spokesperson declined to comment. NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said the league is “aware of the video” and has “no further comment at this time.”

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Chiefs News: Chris Jones discussed beating Bengals in Week 17

Even without starting quarterback Joe Burrow, the Bengals were putting up a fight in the AFC playoff race. The Chiefs’ defense surrendered scores on the Bengals’ first three drives, allowing 17 points by midway through the second quarter.

But then the unit began swarming Cincinnati quarterback Jake Browning, pairing up with lockdown coverage to hold the Bengals to no further points — and just 159 net passing yards.

“Kudos to Sneed,” declared Jones. “Every top receiver we’ve played against, Sneed has held his own.”

Then Jones realized he didn’t even know exactly how many yards Chase had gained. Told that the Bengals’ star had recorded just 41 yards against the Chiefs, Jones smiled.

“Exactly,” he said.

A tweet to make you think

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