This season Patrick Mahomes hasn’t looked like the MVP we’ve become accustomed to. Early in the season, Mahomes tried vigorously to make big plays against defenses that have successfully schemed to take away his big-play ability.
That led to a bunch of interceptions. He’s gotten better protecting the ball since then and looks comfortable taking what the defense is giving him.
We saw glimpses of that guy in a Week 10 blowout of the Raiders where he tossed five touchdown passes. We saw the composure and unorthodox improvisation in his playmaking that had people calling him the greatest pure QB since Peyton Manning.
Once 3-4, the Chiefs are on a seven-game win streak, and much of the credit for the team’s elevated play is the improved play of Mahomes. Mahomes, an athletic freak, has prioritized the mental aspect of the game and is playing smarter and more efficiently.
He gutted his way through the Chiefs’ overtime victory over the Chargers. L.A. had Mahomes running out of the pocket all night long, but he made the plays that mattered in clutch moments. A reminder to those doubters that greatness doesn’t always come with a number, just a result.
“We turned it on in the fourth quarter and got the win,” said Mahomes after the game.
When asked what he has learned about this Chiefs team, this particular season Mahomes referred to those intangibles that comprise a championship team.
“We just got heart. Thats the biggest thing,” said , who threw for 410 yards and three TDs. “It hasn’t been pretty the entire season. The guys stepped up and showed that championship swagger we had a couple of years back and now we have to keep this momentum going.”
The Chiefs fought like dogs, scratching and scraping their way to a 28-28 tie at the end of regulation. Mahomes hit tight end Travis Kelcey in the front of the end zone to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
Chargers QB Justin Herbert and Mahomes had dueled to a draw up until that point. K.C. got the ball first in overtime, and Mahomes turned on the magic. His passes got sharper and his and his main receivers started getting open more, leading to a 34-28 K.C. win on a pass from Mahomes to Kelcey on a shallow crossing pattern for the win.
Kelcey finished with a career high 191 yards receiving, and his second touchdown was the game-winner, giving the Chiefs a commanding lead in the AFC West.
The former MVP and Super Bowl champion now has had 4,052 yards passing, 30 touchdowns and a career-high 13 interceptions this season after the huge win over the Chargers on Thursday Night Football. Mahomes started the game 10-for-11 with a passing TD. He had some bad throws, but overall was productive and decisive when it mattered.
This is the worst throw I’ve ever seen Patrick Mahomes make pic.twitter.com/KtMc94kqZW
— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) December 17, 2021
It’s hard when you’re on top. When the accolades and triumphs you’ve acquired make you the hunted. Mahomes is finding that out this season while putting the rest of the league on notice that he’s still more than equipped to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. All he does is win.
Chiefs still have never lost a road divisional game with Patrick Mahomes. Now 12-0… Only Joe Montana (20) had a longer streak. Mahomes ties Peyton Manning (12). #Chiefskingdom pic.twitter.com/RahpY4k2W1
— Alex Gold (@AlexGold) December 17, 2021
2. Kyler Murray Is Getting Back In The Groove, Losing Weapons
Kyler Murray is still working himself back from a nagging ankle injury, which has limited his mobility and affected his passing. His season stats show his all-around productivity; 2.782 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions to go along with 267 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
He was a top-three MVP candidate before he missed three weeks due to the injury. Both interceptions in a 30-23 home loss on MNF to the Rams were a byproduct of that injury. Lazy, inaccurate throws that stem from not being able to push off the ankle/foot area as needed.
Now Murray will be without his best receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) for the remainder of the season. More pressure on K1 than he’d probably like as he rounds himself into game shape again. Cardinals will need him healthy and at peak performance to secure home field and get to L.A. for the Super Bowl.
— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) December 5, 2021
3. Russell Wilson: Still Dangeruss
Russell Wilson was terrible in his first couple of games after returning from his finger injury. It was clear that Russ rushed back too soon, but his competitive nature encouraged the premature return.
Russ has returned to MVP form in the past couple of weeks. Russ has another tough matchup against the L.A. Rams this weekend and will need to protect himself and the football better. This season Russ has passed for 2,302 yards, 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions. These could be Wilson’s final four games in a Seahawks uniform, so let’s see how he finishes the season.
Grateful! More to do! https://t.co/x8tHrirNap
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) December 13, 2021
4. Teddy Bridgewater: Steady Teddy’s Jam Manages The Game
Teddy Bridgewater will never wow you with his play, but he’s a pro’s pro. Teddy’s Jam has always been efficient, and he doesn’t cough the ball up. The Broncos’ offense isn’t great, but they execute enough to complement a top-five defense. Head coach Vic Fangio has no clue what he’s doing, but having Bridgewater as his QB has given him stability and a shot at the playoffs at 7-6.
Bridewater has passed for 2,954 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s also rushed for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Broncos name Teddy Bridgewater starting quarterback. pic.twitter.com/PxBaFe9qdF
— NFL (@NFL) August 25, 2021
5. Lamar Jackson: Roller Coaster Season
Lamar Jackson has struggled passing the football of late and has 13 interceptions. He’s used his legs to keep Baltimore in contention for a playoff spot, as no one is more dangerous in the open field. Teams have used their defensive backs more this season to blitz Jackson and throw off his timing.
Some of that played a role in his four-interception game against the Browns two weeks ago. With Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coming to town this week, the Ravens will need the 2019 version of LJ8 to reappear if they want to maintain their lead in a tight AFC North, where the first and last team is separated by just 1.5 games.
Jackson’s season passing stats are mediocre at best. He’s thrown for 2,882 yards, 16 touchdowns and those 13 aforementioned picks.
Working 💪 pic.twitter.com/pRKizeJKly
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 12, 2021
Jalen Hurts — The dual-threat dynamo has been solid for the surprising Eagles. He missed last week due to injury, and there are rumors that Philly may start Gardner Minshew again this week. Either way Hurts will be ready when his number is called. His 21 total touchdowns have been huge for an offense that has an identity (power run game) but still struggles to move it consistently through the air.
Dak Prescott — Started the season on fire, but since his injury he’s tapered off. In fact, some weeks the Cowboys seem to be winning despite the shaky play of Prescott. He’ll need to right that if the Boys wanna make a run come January. He does have 24 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. The picks are a bit alarming, because they’ve been of the very bad variety.
More news from our partners: