The playoffs are here, and for the first time in the Patrick Mahomes era, the Chiefs are considered a “one and done” prospect. I don’t believe it, and I’ll tell you why, Patrick Mahomes. This is what he lives for, and even though his confidence has taken shot after shot, and his receivers have let him down all season, he is still ‘The Man.’
I love listening to the national pundit’s bag on the Chiefs repeatedly. Regardless of their premise, they believe the Chiefs will fail. Some even went so far as to say the Chiefs wouldn’t even make the playoffs or win the division. I am so sorry for their lack of insight.
We know a few things here to point out. You have confidence in Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, especially at playoffs. Second, they are a tested commodity and have won way more than they’ve lost. Let’s not forget they are the defending champions!
Remember last year when Mahomes was limping around on a bum ankle? This year, he’s healthy and, with an additional week of rest, should be ready to roll come Saturday night. By contrast, the Miami Dolphins are indeed limping into this game. First, this is a road game at Arrowhead in the cold for them.
Second, Tyreek Hill is banged up from Sunday Night Football and critical Injuries have decimated the Dolphins’ defense. Tua Tagovailoa is not a proven playoff quarterback. The list goes on. This cold weather compromise was not what Miami Head Coach Mike McDaniel expected after such a hot start to the regular season.
The challenge in the NFL is the ability to sustain excellence throughout the season. This is where the Chiefs have struggled. They’ve been mediocre all season, yet they have won double digits and the division. Unfortunately, that might have more to do with their competition, but remember this: they played a first-place schedule and still won more than they lost.
Despite the presence of Mahomes, most end-of-season power rankings don’t even have them as a top-five team. They finished the season with the 2nd-ranked scoring and total defense, the 9th-ranked total offense, and the 15th-ranked scoring offense. Indeed, most objective observers would’ve ranked them higher.
For whatever reason, many NFL writers and commenters need to be more objective when it comes to the Chiefs. I’ve seen this bias for a long time, and it is frustrating that they don’t see what we see or choose not to see it. The Chiefs have had sustained excellence for years. This is no flash-in-the-pan organization. I love it when pre-season commenters predict the “Chargers will finally unseat the Chiefs,” it hasn’t happened in eight seasons.
Why do they get it wrong so often? Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid understand the task ahead, so they re-dedicate themselves every off-season. Reid loves Mahomes, the player, and Mahomes, the person. I will go so far as to say Mahomes is more than a “generational” player; he’s a historical player. Not one player has come into this league, plays at the level he has for so long, and has changed how football is played.
In the past, the narrative has been Tom Brady, this or Tom Brady that, but Patrick Mahomes plays a different game. The rest of the league has been playing catch-up and will continue until he retires. Maybe this is why the writers have issues with Kansas City. They subconsciously recognize his true greatness, and they believe that he will somehow fail by ignoring it. It’s likely sometime soon.
So, will the Chiefs beat the Dolphins on Saturday night? Yes.
Miami will be without starting edge Cameron Goode, linebackers Andrew Van Ginkel and Jerome Baker, and finally, starting cornerback Xavien Howard, who is also still nursing an earlier injury. Next men up include familiar faces Melvin Ingram and Emmanuel Ogbah, who have both played for the Chiefs. The Dolphins have also signed former Chief Justin Houston for linebacker help.
Add the banged-up Tyreek Hill into the mix, and I believe the ‘Fins will struggle. It’s more so on defense than offense, but it bodes well for both sides of the ball. If Kansas City comes out firing on enough cylinders, this game will take care of itself. If either unit struggles, it will be closer than it should be, but I still believe that the Chiefs are too good, considering how poorly the Dolphins are playing.
Even though the Chiefs have some players nursing injuries, my expectation is they will have as close to their starting squads as possible. This will be interesting: Even though he has been practicing, Jawaan Taylor hasn’t been what the Chiefs expected for the money he has been paid. Lucas Niang may get the start at the correct tackle. Wanya Morris is nursing a head injury and has been ruled out. Reid indicated that Donovan Smith will resume his starting role.
Isaiah Pacheco will be back for this game, as well as La’Mical Perine. Per Andy Reid, there is also the possibility that Kadarius Toney could see limited snaps and the same is true for Justyn Ross. The passing game should work well, with receivers Rashee Rice and Mecole Hardman likely as the top options, along with Justin Watson. Add Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, and Blake Bell, and this could end up being more of an Andy Reid-style game.
I’m still convinced that a dominant rushing attack should be established before going pass-happy, but I’m willing to bet we’ll see an attempt at a high-flying attack despite the cold conditions. Regardless, I think the offense will likely have a good game and be able to move the ball, as we’ve been accustomed to seeing.
As far as the defense is concerned, Steve Spagnuolo will work his magic and frustrate Tua and Tyreek routinely, thanks to L’Jarius Sneed. Expect tight man coverage and blitzing galore to force Tua into untimely throws. WR Jaylen Waddle may be back after suffering a high ankle sprain that he’s been resting for the last two games, but he will be covered tight by Trent McDuffie. I would also expect running back De’Von Achane to provide some tough running, but I also expect the middle of defensive line coach Joe Cullen’s group to hold up well against the run.
In the end, whether the Chiefs win or lose, we will be guaranteed an entertaining game that will be memorable for several reasons yet to be determined. I believe the Chiefs will win more extensively than expected and in ways we weren’t expecting.
All I can say is Let’s Go!!!
Chiefs 35, Dolphins 17