Chiefs vs. Texans: Deshaun Watson’s MVP hopes and 8 other stories to follow
Mahomes is ready for a big game
At this point, Patrick Mahomes is the king of big games. Through five games, Mahomes has broken Peyton Manning’s record of most yards thrown for without an interception with 1,831. He’s currently on pace for 5,895 yards, 35 touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
Obviously there will be some variation in those numbers, but you get the idea. Missing one of the best receivers in the NFL since game one, dealing with an ankle injury since game one, and running for his life in a few games Mahomes has dialed his play up another level from his MVP campaign in 2018.
It’s no surprise that throughout Mahomes career he follows up a loss with a stellar statistical outing. Before the Colts game on Sunday Mahomes had only lost five games in his first 23 starts including the playoffs. Following those losses he’s been nothing short of terrific.
The five games following losses were the games against the Bengals, Raiders, Seahawks, and Raiders from 2018 and the game against the Jaguars in 2019. In those games Mahomes had a passer rating of 120, completing 65 percent of his passes for 317 yards and 3.2 touchdowns, adding another 27 yards on the ground.
These stats can’t predict the future, but show that our quarterback has a penchant for overcoming adversity. I expect him to have a great game against a coach who historically prefers to run zone defenses, against which Mahomes is extremely effective.
If that doesn’t make you feel more confident about Sunday’s home game against the Texans, maybe this will. In his tenure as the Chiefs head coach, only once has Andy Reid lost back-to-back home games and that was six seasons ago in his first year with the team. Fans can take heart that Big Red doesn’t take losses lightly and will expend the needed energy to make sure the Chiefs come out ready to play on Sunday.
Tyreek Hill could return
Tyreek Hill suffered an S/C dislocation in the first game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars, an injury that usually takes a player a minimum of four weeks to get back on the field. He’s now missed four games, and was a limited participant in multiple practices last week with the expectation that he will practice fully at some point this week.
The first couple games without Hill the sentiment was that he was a luxury. It’s hard to argue with that given how Patrick Mahomes was able to carve up the opposing defenses. Yet, as the games have gone on and the injuries have begun to pile up it’s looking more and more like we need Hill to return. He doesn’t solve all our issues, but he’ll help in one major area.
Some fans and pundits have started to pass around this idea that teams have now developed the perfect game plan to stop the Chiefs offense. All you have to do is play press coverage and only rush four. It seems like for a time it worked for the Raiders, it almost worked for the Lions, and it definitely worked for the Colts. You could argue it was the reason the Colts ultimately won the game.
There’s a major caveat to this argument though. It was already apparent last season that the best way to defend the Chiefs was to use this strategy, yet most coaches didn’t do it. Why? Because most teams just don’t have the personnel, multiple great cover corners, to employ this strategy.
Why does it seem to be working all of the sudden? Because the Chiefs speed and experience at wide receiver has taken a serious hit lately. Hill is out, Watkins has been banged up the last two games, and Kelce has played but not been his usual reliable self when it comes to catching the ball.
Think about it. Mahomes was essentially throwing to DeMarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, and Byron Pringle, none of which are number one receivers. He practically made Pringle, who was cut at one point from the 53-man roster, look like a Pro Bowler.
My point is, while each of these three players have shown flashes of productivity they’re not players you can count on to consistently beat their man in press coverage. Add to that the problems along the offensive line, and it would make it difficult for any quarterback to be successful under these circumstances. Amazingly, Mahomes has still been pretty good.
All this to say, Hill looks to return this week and it’s about time. I’d expect he’ll get something similar to the Morris Claiborne treatment and play somewhere between 20-30 snaps, and I bet Reid and Mahomes will make those snaps count.