An ESPN analysis of penalty data showed that while the Kansas City Chiefs did see some of their lowest percentages of overall game penalties in the playoffs this season, they did not benefit from fewer penalties than their opponents in the regular season.
Most of the time — 12 out of 17 games in the regular season — the officials threw more flags against the Chiefs than their opponents, according to ESPN’s analysis, which included those that were declined or offset. The plays on which fans decry a missed call — which can be subjective — aren’t captured in the numbers provided to ESPN.
The Chiefs were the sixth most penalized team in the NFL during the regular season, tied with the Tennessee Titans, at 126 penalties, or about 7.4 per game. That’s higher than the overall regular season average of 6.8.
Another way to look at it: Officials called 95 penalties against Chiefs opponents. Only the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears saw fewer collective penalties against their opponents in the regular season. About 96% of penalties against Chiefs opponents happened before the final two minutes of a game.
One year ago, the Chiefs headed west to Phoenix and won Super Bowl LVIII 38-35 over the Philadelphia Eagles. This year, several Chiefs said head coach Andy Reid has kept the same schedule in an attempt to keep those making a repeat trip to the Super Bowl in a good routine.
“It is exactly the same,” Chiefs wide receiver Justin Watson said of the team’s schedule for the week. “Coach Reid just copy and pasted the schedule from last year, so I think for as crazy as this week is there is a little comfort level just knowing that we’ve done this before.”
Watson had played in Super Bowl LV as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so even in an odd COVID Super Bowl, the Chiefs’ veteran had some experience before the Chiefs’ Super Bowl appearance last season. That prior Super Bowl experience is something cornerback Trent McDuffie did not have ahead of the big game last year, when McDuffie was a rookie out of Washington.
“Last year during this time it was probably a little crazier for me, just getting used to the media, getting used to the schedule and stuff,” McDuffie told KCTV5. “Being able to come back another year and kind of just have an idea of how things are run I feel a little more at peace for sure.”
“I hear every one of them,” general manager John Lynch said. “You don’t miss those because they’re special. They really are. The kid, he doesn’t say a lot, but when he does, it’s very prophetic.”
Bosa’s first was followed by a win so head coach Kyle Shanahan called on him again the following week. The Niners won again and it hasn’t stopped as he grows more comfortable each week.
“It’s become our tradition,” Shanahan said. “Nick’s gotten really good at it. I remember he has always been good at it. But it’s funny how guys who are so confident in everything they do, they’re just not used to always speaking in front of groups. He used to tell me that was the most nervous he’d be throughout the whole week. ... I think earlier this year he thanked me. He was like, ‘Hey, thanks for doing that by the way. I’ve gotten better at it. I’m not as nervous anymore.’
“He is really good at it. Everything he says he thinks through. Nick doesn’t waste words because he doesn’t use many of them.”
The speeches aren’t long, lasting just a few minutes. Bosa said he’s surprised he doesn’t remember what he said the first time because he usually remembers “traumatic experiences.”
Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker could be the key to their success in Super Bowl LVIII. The veteran has been dubbed ‘sexier than Travis Kelce’ in a recent study that ranked him as the most attractive player on the team and third best-looking in the NFL.
Butker, 28, shared the podium with runner-up Joey Bosa from the Los Angeles Chargers, whose younger brother Nick will play against the kicker’s Chiefs for the San Francisco 49ers. The top spot went to Jimmy Garoppolo of the Las Vegas Raiders, who played against Kansas City at Super Bowl LIV for the Niners alongside Bosa Jr.
In his first Super Bowl, Butker scored 4-of-4 extra point attempts and a 31-yard field goal. At Super Bowl LV, he scored all nine points for the Chiefs in defeat to Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers as Patrick Mahomes fell foul to the Bucs’ pass rush.
But, for Butker, his perfect record did not continue at Super Bowl LVII after missing a field goal attempt from 41 yards in the first half. However, he stepped up in the final seconds to score a 27-yarder to secure a 38-25 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that included Kelce’s brother Jason.
This year, the team’s kicker has been on fire in the postseason, nailing all his extra points and field goals. He has carried this form from the regular season, missing only two kicks all year and making all 45 extra-point attempts.
On Thursday, 49ers players were awoken early by a 6 a.m. fire alarm at the team hotel, ripping them from their sleep and souring a few moods. George Kittle, who said he was awoken seven minutes before his alarm was set to go off, said All-Pro teammates Christian McCaffrey and Nick Bosa were the most crotchety about the disruption.
“It had to be them,” Kittle said when asked about it later in the day. “You don’t want to wake the sleeping bear. But Christian was not happy too.”
The 49ers’ fervor for routine has been well-noted throughout the season, and McCaffrey was quick to suggest the fire alarm wasn’t a mistake.
“I think there’s no way it’s random,” he said. “It’s part of it. It’s just more wood thrown on the fire.”
Bosa doubled down on that take, saying “I’m sure somebody did it.” The defensive end went on to reference a similar incident in Philadelphia, where his sleep was disrupted by a construction crew working late into the night near the team’s hotel.
“A fire alarm going off at six in the morning? For what? I didn’t understand that,” star wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. “That s— kind of pissed me off. I’m not lying.”
The Kansas City native attended the opening night on Monday and was seen mingling with the Chiefs players, who were just as excited to meet him as he was to fulfill them.
It’s been a long journey for Tech N9ne, from being a little boy attending Chiefs games with his Uncle Ike to becoming a successful artist who wrote the Chief’s anthem “Red Kingdom.”
For him, much of what’s happening in his life is bringing his childhood full circle.
But the most meaningful moments for Tech N9ne have happened recently at home.
On Thanksgiving night, he was given the honor to flip the switch on the Plaza Lights in Kansas City.
“Big thing for me,” Tech N9ne said. “Big thing for me being on the outside looking in back when I was young, I could never get that close vision.”
He also appeared on Good Morning America to announce scholarship giveaways to Kansas City kids.
“You can’t write that,” he said. “You can’t write that. You can’t make that up, you know, because nothing is promised. You just put your best foot forward and pray that people agree that what you think is good is good because you can think you’re good all you want.”
But this weekend, it’s all about the Chiefs.
“We’re out here to support our team, our town,” he said. “We got love and respect for the Kansas City Chiefs. Thank you, guys, for always being winners.”
Small businesses in Kansas City have been reveling in the frenzy, selling custom merchandise playing on the relationship between Ms. Swift and Mr. Kelce.
“We can’t keep Travis and Taylor stuff in stock,” said Kari Lindner, the general manager of Made in KC, as she stood amid displays of trinkets, clothing and baseball caps. (One example: a pink-and-cream T-shirt that read “It’s a KC love story: Tay & Trav.”)
Hotels in the Kansas City area are filling up for this weekend, even though the Super Bowl is being played in Las Vegas. Angie Brock, sales and marketing coordinator for the Hotel Phillips, said that she expected the downtown area to be packed with both football fans and Swifties — including plenty of women who were only mildly interested in the game before Ms. Swift became part of the fun.
“We’re all wondering if Taylor will be at the Super Bowl parade,” said Ms. Brock, who shares the widespread presumption in the city that it will be the Chiefs who will lead the victory parade.
All of it adds up to a sense that Kansas City, home to just over half a million people, is growing more visible nationally, a thrill to residents and city officials.
Around the NFL
Bill Belichick had total control in New England for 24 seasons.
Many surmised his desire to again be in charge of roster decisions in his next act led to the head coach missing out on a job, but Falcons owner Arthur Blank — the only one to interview him — dismissed that notion on Friday.
“I want to be clear really on behalf of Bill, just as a human being and as a storied coach in the history of our league,” Blank said on Super Bowl Live. “Been a coach 49 years in the NFL. Bill, during all of our discussions with him, it was never about power, control, needing people to work for him, etcetera. He was interested in coaching. He definitely wanted a collaborative relationship with personnel, scouting. He had done his reference checking on our department, had committed to me that he’d be happy to work with our people. In fact, did it in writing through a text message he sent to me at one point.”
It will be the second straight year that an important NFL game will be carried exclusively on a streaming platform. The Jan. 13 AFC wild-card game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins streamed on Peacock.
NBCUniversal paid $110 million for the rights to the game, according to various reports, with Amazon expected to pay more.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that Amazon will air a playoff game next season.
Under the NFL’s contract, each of its four broadcast partners — NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN/ABC — gets at least one wild-card game. Of the two remaining games, one rotates each year between NBC, CBS and Fox, while the other is up for bid.
This season’s 16-game package on Prime Video averaged 11.86 million viewers, according to Nielsen, a 24% increase over the 2022 inaugural season. Twelve games averaged more than 10 million, doubling 2022 and triggering some performance clauses allowing it to carry a playoff game.
Despite rancor among fans, the game on Peacock was the most-watched event on a streaming service. The Chiefs’ 26-7 victory averaged 23 million viewers on Peacock, NFL+ and on NBC affiliates in Kansas City and Miami, and had a total reach of 27.6 million, according to Nielsen.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The 2023 season is the seventh year for Mahomes, the 11th for Kelce, and the 25th as a head coach for the Chiefs’ Andy Reid. He played a huge part in this relationship between quarterback and tight end, becoming one of the best connections in NFL history.
He developed their talent into All-Pro players, but he is also part of the mind meld that tortures opposing defenses. Mahomes can anticipate where Kelce is going to go, but he can also predict what Reid is going to call.
“Being with Coach Reid for so long now,” Mahomes began. “I have a good feel for the game plan, good feel for how he calls plays. A lot of the times, he’ll call the play that I want him to call before I even get it in, having a good feel for what he’s thinking.”
It goes further than anticipating the called play. The Chiefs’ signal caller also feels strongly that he knows how coach Reid wants him to attack a given play.
“When he calls a play, I know what he’s thinking and kind of who he thinks the ball should be going to,” Mahomes reflected. “It might be different in practice, it might be different than what we’ve worked on throughout the year, but based off how the defense is playing and the play that he calls, I have a good understanding of what he’s thinking and who he thinks the ball is going to.”
Social media to make you think
The NFL’s head coach, offensive and defensive coordinator vacancies are now all filled.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 10, 2024
The final tally:
8 new head coaches
16 new defensive coordinators
15 new offensive coordinators https://t.co/HOlPgGciX2
Note: Chiefs’ defensive line coach Joe Cullen — who had been reported to be on the short list to become defensive coordinator for the University of Michigan Wolverines, Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks — wasn’t hired by any of those teams.