Travis Kelce could have a career day against the New York Giants

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25: Tight end Travis Kelce
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25: Tight end Travis Kelce /

At the rate that tight ends are running roughshod over the New York Giants defense, Travis Kelce could enjoy himself a career day on Sunday.

Travis Kelce doesn’t need any help, just to be clear. After a couple years helping to establish the second tier of tight ends in the NFL after Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, the Kansas City Chiefs star has not only broken through in the last year but he’s become perhaps the NFL’ finest. At the very least, it’s a jumpball for who is better at this point, especially given Gronk’s health issues and the way Kelce continues to grow year over year.

Just last year, Kelce finally hurdled the 1,000 yard mark for a season after flirting with it his first two full years in the league (after missing his rookie season due to injury). However, as good as he was at moving the chains, Kelce was never a prominent end zone target, with a career-high of five touchdowns. Through just nine games in 2017, he’s now matched that number and the chemistry he’s shown with Alex Smith makes it clear more are on the way.

The New York Giants might just let him make the official leap to NFL’s best.

On Sunday, the Chiefs will visit the Giants for their scheduled Week 11 contest between two teams with hardly anything in common. One team is the model of consistency, while the other is only weeks away from certainly tearing everything down to the studs. Unfortunately for the Giants, one of their primary weaknesses this season has been the incredible amount of production they allow for other tight ends. That spells good news for Kelce.

Let’s take a look at what others have done:

  • Week 1 – Jason Witten – 7 catches, 59 yards, 1 TD (the only receiving TD on the day)
  • Week 2 – Eric Ebron – 5 catches, 42 yards, 1 TD (by far his best performance on the year)
  • Week 3 – Zach Ertz – 8 catches, 55 yards, 1 TD
  • Week 4 – Cameron Brate & O.J. Howard – 6 catches, 143 yards, 2 TDs combined
  • Week 5 – Hunter Henry – 3 catches, 42 yards, 1 TD
  • Week 6 – Jeff Heuerman – 2 catches, 24 yards, 1 TD (he only has 6 catches all year)
  • Week 7 – Jimmy Graham – 3 catches, 51 yards, 1 TD
  • Week 9 – Tyler Higbee – 1 catch, 8 yards, 1 TD (the Rams put up 50 pts in this game)
  • Week 10 – Garrett Celek – 4 catches, 67 yards, 1 TD

Here’s the bottom line and there are a few fun ways to say this: tight ends always find the end zone against the New York Giants. Always. There’s not a single game this year that the Giants didn’t give up a touchdown to a tight end and that includes ones named Jeff Heuerman, Tyler Higbee and Eric Ebron. For a few tight ends, their best performance of the year is the week they faced the Giants.

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Enter Travis Kelce. Through nine games, Kelce has 51 catches for 629 yards and 5 touchdowns, but he’s caught three of those in the last three games. Alex Smith has targeted him 19 times in the last two games, which means he’s already getting plenty of looks against teams far better at disrupting Kelce’s routes. Imagine what Kelce might do if Smith decides to feed what works until the Giants show they can stop it.

Kelce has never been targeted more than 15 times in a single game and his career high for receptions is 11. Both of those marks were set in separate games against the Denver Broncos, just last year to be specific. Kelce’s best game of his career is 11 catches for 160 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. He also had a 2 touchdown performance against the Houston Texans in 2015.

Those sorts of marks aren’t really that far off of what Kelce should be expected to do against the Giants. It’s not hard to imagine Kelce blending those two marks and coming up with something around 150 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns against Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. It’s the perfect time for Kelce to provide the ultimate mismatch while reminding everyone watching TV that Gronk is the end all, be all of tight ends. In fact, you might just find the NFL’s best in the heartland.