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Arrowheadlines: The Chiefs are no longer reliant on Mahomes heroics

Chiefs headlines for Tuesday, January 30

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The latest

The First Read: Five most important questions ahead of 49ers-Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII | NFL.com

1) Do the Chiefs need a huge game from Patrick Mahomes to win? As strange as it sounds, the answer to that is a resounding “NO.” Mahomes needs to play well, but anybody who’s watched him in this postseason can see that he’s gone to another level with his quarterbacking abilities. He’s averaged 239.3 passing yards in Kansas City’s three playoff wins while tossing all of four touchdown passes. He only had 241 passing yards on 30 completions against the Ravens’ vaunted defense, which reveals plenty about how the Chiefs have been approaching their offensive strategy in the postseason. This team has stopped trying to dominate opponents with schemes and accepted that the best path to moving the football and scoring points is simplicity. The Chiefs have leaned into the violent running of Isiah Pacheco. Mahomes attempted 39 passes against Baltimore and 24 went toward Pacheco, tight end Travis Kelce and rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice. Those are now the three most vital weapons in Kansas City’s attack, and there’s no question Mahomes has bought into that approach. Don’t get it twisted, though: Mahomes is always capable of delivering a spectacular performance because of who he is. It’s just that his numbers in both of his Super Bowl wins have been modest — 286 passing yards in that win over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV and 182 in last year’s victory over Philadelphia — so you’d expect the 49ers to try to contain him as well. The Chiefs got here with stingy defense and efficient offense. That same formula can turn them into a dynasty.

San Francisco 49ers will need more than luck to topple Chiefs | USA Today

Against a championship-tested squad led by Patrick Mahomes, the 49ers can hardly afford to spot the Chiefs a big lead or otherwise commit game-swinging gaffes. Sure, the 49ers, who have typically built leads that force opponents to play catch-up, have in the past two outings refuted the narrative that they can’t come from behind. Must be a nice confidence boost to get it done.

“That’s back-to-back weeks with wins that we weren’t supposed to have, apparently,” Aiyuk said. “Just two gutsy wins; two wins that just show you the type of team that we have, the mindset, the will and that heart that everybody had.”

How Steve Spagnuolo, Chiefs Defense Spoiled Lamar Jackson’s Magical Season | The 33rd Team

Spagnuolo attacked Baltimore’s running backs, in particular. He regularly sent enough men or gamed up the blitz in a way that forced the Ravens’ running back to account for someone.

Justin Reid’s third-quarter sack was the best example. Before the snap, the Chiefs had four defenders lined up in front of the center or to his right. The Ravens only had three offensive linemen, obviously, and no tight end on that side. Baltimore’s “bigs” (linemen) accounted for Kansas City’s “bigs” (linemen and linebackers), leaving Reid blitzing through the B gap straight at running back Justice Hill. For the nth time that game, Hill whiffed and let Reid have a free run at Jackson.

Super Bowl LVIII preview: 49ers-Chiefs storylines, X-factors and more | FOX Sports

HISTORY LESSON

Chiefs: The Chiefs hope to become the first team in 19 years to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Just eight Super Bowl champions have successfully defended their title: the 2003-04 Patriots, 1997-98 Broncos, 1992-93 Cowboys, 1988-89 49ers, 1978-79 Steelers, 1974-75 Steelers, 1972-73 Dolphins and the 1966-67 Packers.

Since Mahomes became the Chiefs’ starting quarterback in 2018, Kansas City has won two Super Bowls. —Arthur

Biggest Questions Facing San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII | Bleacher Report

Will the 49ers Be the Team That Finally Stops Isiah Pacheco?

Can anyone can stop Isiah Pacheco right now? Opposing defenses certainly haven’t been able to.

The second-year running back has found paydirt in all three of Kansas City’s playoff games thus far—building on a streak that began with a rushing score in last year’s Super Bowl—and is a great bet to punch in another in two weeks.

Injuries haven’t slowed Pacheco, either. Despite being designated as questionable prior to the AFC Championship Game due to toe and ankle injuries, the powerful 5’10”, 216-pound back was able to suit up and pound the rock constantly. While he wasn’t as effective against the Baltimore Ravens as he had been in recent weeks, he still mustered 68 yards on 24 carries, matching his playoff career high for rushes.

Pacheco now heads into the Super Bowl having piled up 254 yards and three touchdowns on 63 carries during the 2024 NFL playoffs. The San Francisco defense will need to prioritize shutting down the 24-year-old, limiting his ability to put points on the board and churn clock.

Super Bowl: The NFL’s playoff beast has awoken as the Kansas City Chiefs seal their return | Sky Sports

They have had their way with three of the NFL’s most feared contenders while operating on limited resources in comparison. But with the league’s best quarterback, with an unflappable Reid, with the league’s best tight end, with Spagnuolo and his crack team of game-wreckers, the playoff Chiefs are an entirely different proposition. The great teams know how to navigate this time of year; this is one of the great teams.

Five early 2024 Super Bowl predictions as Chiefs and 49ers set to square off in Las Vegas | CBS Sports

Travis Kelce retirement speculation heats up

Kelce is already a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and an NFL postseason legend as well. He currently ranks second in playoff receiving yards (1,810), first in playoff receptions (156) and second in playoff receiving touchdowns (19).

After his third Super Bowl win in which he scores a touchdown, with Taylor Swift by his side as confetti falls from the sky, Kelce makes an eyebrow-raising comment concerning his future, saying he’s going to take some time to ponder what’s next. That ramps up retirement speculation, and Kelce ultimately does step away this offseason, just like his brother.

2024 NFL Mock Draft with Super Bowl LVIII set: Ravens get Lamar Jackson a playmaker; Lions address defense | CBS Sports

Round 1 - Pick 31

Jer’Zhan Newton DL

ILLINOIS • JR • 6’2” / 295 LBS

Chris Jones is slated to become a free agent after re-negotiating his deal last offseason. The Chiefs could have already used depth additions to that room, so the selection of the high-motor Jer’Zhan Newton comes at the perfect time.

Around the NFL

Chargers expected to hire Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz as new general manager | NFL.com

The Los Angeles Chargers are expected to hire Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz as their next general manager, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday. Rapoport added the sides are just working out final details.

Hortiz has spent the last 26 years with the Ravens, rising through the ranks of low-level scout all the way to his current position, which he has held since 2019. Hortiz received a firsthand education in building championship-caliber rosters under both former Ravens general manager and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome, and his successor, current Ravens GM Eric DeCosta, serving on a personnel staff that has produced two Super Bowl champions (2000 and 2012) and seven AFC North titles since 2003.

Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson has surgery for torn ACL | ESPN

Hockenson also tore the MCL in the same knee and decided, along with the Vikings, to delay the ACL surgery until the MCL had healed.

Monday’s procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache from the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. With training camp roughly six months away, the Vikings have not yet provided a timetable for Hockenson’s return to the field.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Chiefs-Ravens: 10 things overheard during 17-10 AFC Championship win

“Kadarius Toney said he wants to play long enough for his daughter to see him dropping passes in an NFL game.”

“The Ravens were completely undisciplined and blew the good opportunities they had. Seems like a perfect team for Toney.”

“If the Chargers were hoping to hire a coach who could give their team discipline, maybe the Harbaugh DNA isn’t the way to go.”

“Ravens fans are bragging that Lamar Jackson totally kicked Patrick Mahomes’ butt in receiving yards.”

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