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Chiefs’ Market Movers heading into the playoffs

Which Chiefs are trending up — and down — as the NFL postseason begins?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs are on a high note as they head into this weekend’s Wild Card game against the Miami Dolphins in frigid Arrowhead Stadium.

After a win against the Cincinnati Bengals, where the celebrations and dancing returned to the sidelines, they secured the division (again), rested starters, got Chris Jones another million, and still managed to beat the Chargers.

They’ve simplified their offense, learned to rely on their defense and have found some focal points to build around. This version of the Chiefs can win some playoff games if they execute.

Here are a few who may be trending as the Chiefs try to advance past the Dolphins on Saturday:

Bulls

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Running back Isiah Pacheco: It’s the postseason. It’s cold. This team is now built around a more conservative offense and a stellar defense. The interior offensive line can maul defenses when they get the chance. The Dolphins are beat up along their defensive front. How many more reasons do we need to be bullish on the guy who runs like the grass owes him money? It’s Pacheco’s time: let’s hope he gets 20 carries and the Chiefs control this game.

Defensive back L’Jarius Sneed: Every team on the Chiefs schedule this season was reminded or found out that Sneed is an elite cornerback. That includes the Dolphins and Tyreek Hill. In their Germany matchup, Hill had 62 yards on eight catches and the fumble that helped seal the Chiefs’ victory. It was one of his worst games of the season. Since then, Sneed was snubbed for the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors. He’ll be motivated to make his presence felt on Saturday night. Watch for big hits from the entire secondary — and another shutdown performance from Sneed.

Tight end Travis Kelce: It hasn’t been the best season for the GOAT at his position. Travis Kelce has been banged up, missed the opening week, then chose to sit out the final game. He just missed getting to 1,000 yards for the eighth straight season. But that decision— getting himself right for the playoffs instead of chasing individual stats — might be his best since reaching out to Taylor Swift. He’s been an absolute monster in the postseason, with some of the most clutch plays in Chiefs’ history. His average game in the postseason in his career is about eight catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns. That kind of performance could have this Chiefs offense looking more like the one that won two Super Bowls in the last four years.

Others trending in the right direction: EDGE George Karlaftis, defensive lineman Chris Jones, wide receiver Rashee Rice, left tackle Donovan Smith, wide receiver Mecole Hardman, offensive lineman Joe Thuney, cornerback Trent McDuffie, tight end Travis Kelce, linebacker Drue Tranquill, tight end Noah Gray, kicker Harrison Butker

Bears

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The same guys who have been trending in the wrong direction all season: Tight end Blake Bell, wide receiver Kadarius Toney and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling have struggled to find productive roles on the Chiefs offense throughout 2023. They have been responsible for some of the most frustrating drops of the yer, without making enough plays to overcome the mistakes. Now, in the postseason, it’s too late to expect much of an uptick. There are other options, such as Noah Gray, Mecole Hardman and Rashee Rice, who should get more opportunities against the Dolphins. Any hopes that Toney or Valdes-Scantling have something in the tank for a playoff run are a distant memory. This team needs to play clean football to advance in the playoffs, which means sticking with their most consistent and reliable options.


Value (sleeper) pick: Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With the news that Jerick McKinnon isn’t returning for the postseason, the entirety of the running back room is now Isiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. La’Mical Perine did some good things in Week 18, but with the season on the line, I expect the Chiefs to go with the “known quantities.” Both Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire have shown an ability to catch the football, but Edwards-Helaire might be the better route runner. The Chiefs should be using the screen game as well as some actual receiver opportunities for these guys. Given what we’ve seen from Edwards-Helaire late in the season when Pacheco was unavailable, the team might be able to get him going. Perhaps Pacheco has the bigger stat line, but Edwards-Helaire finds the end zone and maybe breaks a long pass play this week.

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