Let’s get to some initial thoughts from the game:
The million-dollar sack made for a moment.
There’s no denying it: the Chiefs have had a bit of an up-and-down season. As I think about the regular season that was, I find that it wasn’t one with a lot of those moments we’ve seen in recent years.
I’m not sure I agreed with the decision to play defensive tackle Chris Jones — especially into the third quarter of a meaningless football game — but seeing him finally get home for his $1.25 million sack after coming close all day made a 2023 moment you will remember.
Minutes later, the broadcast cut to Jones embracing defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and then head coach Andy Reid, leading me to believe that Jones asked for the chance to get the sack — and that request was granted.
Whether or not the Chiefs should have just paid the bonus is another conversation in which there are reasonable points for both sides — but with Jones getting there (and avoiding injury), it’s no longer a conversation we really need to have.
A few Chiefs made cases for postseason roles.
With many first-line players sitting out — including linebacker Nick Bolton, linebacker Willie Gay Jr., defensive end George Karlaftis, tight end Travis Kelce, linebacker Willie Gay Jr., quarterback Patrick Mahomes, cornerback Trent McDuffie, running back Isiah Pacheco, safety Justin Reid, linebacker Drue Tranquill, wide receiver Justin Watson and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling — the Chiefs featured a lot of their younger players.
A few stood out on my initial watch of the game, and I wonder what it could mean for roles in the postseason.
On offense, I was impressed with what wide receiver Mecole Hardman brought to the table. The Chiefs dished it to Hardman to the tune of six catches for 77 yards — and I thought he appeared as healthy as he has in a long time. Even as the starters are reinserted next week, the Chiefs may dial up Hardman in the playoffs on particular looks. I think he brings an explosive element they may have been lacking most of the season.
Wide receiver Justyn Ross also had two catches for 17 yards before he was ruled out with a hamstring injury. Beyond Ross and Hardman on offense, I thought running back La’Mical Perine showed that the Chiefs’ running back depth runs deeper than Clyde Edwards-Helaire — who has had a nice end to his season. Perine finished with 33 touches for 109 yards.
On defense, defensive lineman Charles Omenihu continued his sack streak, which was extended to six games. Omenihu has really turned it on down the stretch after he missed the first six games of the season due to a suspension. He forced a fumble that safety Mike Edwards took back 97 yards for Kansas City’s only touchdown of the day, which ended up being enough for the victory.
It’s probably less about this year’s playoffs and more about next year’s team, but I thought rookies Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Cam Jones had nice days. Jones, an undrafted free agent, really impressed as he flew around and led the team with 12 tackles.
And now we wait to see the Chiefs’ opponent.
UPDATE: It’s the Miami Dolphins (more on that here).
The season is now over. Everything that transpired now doesn’t matter. What does matter is the Chiefs’ opponent (the No. 6 seed), which will be determined on Sunday night. It’s finally as simple as this:
With a Miami Dolphins win over the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs see the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round. With a Bills win over the Dolphins, the Chiefs see the Dolphins. On the off chance that there is a tie, the Chiefs would see the Bills.
There are six Wild Card timeslots — two on Saturday, three more on Sunday and one on Monday night. I think that with left tackle Wanya Morris now in concussion protocol and Jawaan Taylor a little banged up, Kansas City would be best suited for a Sunday slot. That gives Morris more time to recover — without reducing rest before a potential Divisional Round game, such as would happen with a Monday game.
We’ll keep you updated on all that here at Arrowhead Pride. It’s playoff time!