How Kansas City’s win affects NFL playoff image

The window to recover the seed of the AFC was closing quickly. Kansas City, which had relinquished its grip on the No.1 seed with last week’s loss to Cincinnati, was trailed by the Denver Broncos for three-and-a-half.

On the second down, deep in Kansas City territory, Broncos running back Melvin Gordon prepared to take over from quarterback Drew Lock, but Melvin Ingram, whom Kansas City acquired on the trade deadline. November, watched him. Before Gordon could firmly grasp the ball, Ingram had burst into the backfield unblocked and let go. His teammate, linebacker Nick Bolton, recovered the ball and rushed to the end zone with Lock in tow.

The 86-yard scoring and the two-point conversion that followed gave Kansas City the victory they needed, 28-24, to eventually reclaim the No.1 seed, home field advantage and a let-down. advance to the first round of the playoffs. For that to happen, the Chiefs would need the Tennessee Titans, who are currently the best team in the AFC, to lose to the Houston Texans on Sunday. If the Titans win, Kansas City (12-5) will not fall lower than the No.2 seed and host the No.7 seed in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

In a game Kansas City needed to win for any chance of improving their standings, self-inflicted crashes had to be overcome to overtake a Broncos team (7-10) that had little to play. beyond trying to smash a 12 – a losing streak stretching back to November 2015. Denver had previously been knocked out of the playoffs and played without cornerbacks Pat Surtain II and Ronald Darby against one of the attacks from most powerful passes in the NFL.

But Denver built a surprising lead early Saturday behind substitute Lock, who had 12 hits for 24 with 162 yards. The quarterback had two rushing touchdowns in the first half, including one on a third play in which neither of the Kansas City defenders represented him as a runner, and he danced in the end zone. relatively intact to put the Broncos in the lead, Sept.

Kansas City’s rehabilitated defense had appeared to return to its early-season form at the worst possible time. Gordon slashed the Kansas City defense for 110 yards, including one in the third quarter. On the play, Gordon took over from Lock and rounded the Kansas City defenders on a 47-yard run into the end zone to put the Broncos in place, 21-17.

But Kansas City weathered the ups and downs of this inconsistent season, and did it again in that final regular season game, relying on his offense to push the ball down the field when he absolutely needed to. score, despite injuries to many team members. skill position players.

Kansas City electric receiver Tyreek Hill was in and out of the game with a right heel injury. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was absent with a shoulder injury.

Mahomes’ first touchdown pass of the game was a short throw to tight end Travis Kelce in Kansas City’s first practice. The team’s second touchdown came on a 14-yard physical rush by running back Jerick McKinnon.

But in a game marred by missed tackles and breakdowns in his defensive front and in the secondary, Ingram’s big play and Bolton’s return secured the victory and kept Kansas City’s hopes of clinching the seed in the World Cup. ‘AFC alive.

8:15 p.m., ABC and ESPN

Dallas (11-5) notched a playoff berth and the NFC East title in Week 16 and is the No.4 seed in the NFC heading into Saturday’s game. The Eagles (9-7) have won seven of their last nine games after starting the season 2-5 and seeded the No.7 seed with last week’s victory over the Washington soccer team. This game is not intended to make the playoffs, but could determine the ranking. Dallas could climb as high as the No.2 seed with a win over Philadelphia, plus losses to Arizona and the Rams, while Philadelphia will finish sixth or seventh seed.

When they first met, the Cowboys blew up Philadelphia in quarterback Dak Prescott’s first home game for Dallas since his horrific ankle injury last season. Prescott had three touchdowns and over 200 passing yards in this week three game.

Dallas’ great power offense has stuttered in recent weeks, however, marked by a 25-22 loss to the Cardinals last week. The Cowboys’ running play has been inconsistent (Dallas only ran 45 yards last week) and the offense didn’t push the ball down the field – both, in part, due to struggles on the line. offensive.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott didn’t have the same impact many are used to seeing as he faces a knee injury. Micah Parsons, Dallas’ 2021 first-round pick, has been part of his defensive turnaround this season but has been put on the reserve / Covid-19 roster this week and could miss Saturday’s game.

Still, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones told The Fan in a radio interview this week on 105.3 that the team had no plans to put their starters to rest.

Much of Philadelphia’s success this season is due to dominant ground play, led by running back Miles Sanders, who is the team’s second forward behind quarterback Jalen Hurts. Sanders will miss this game with a fractured hand. Hurts has been a hesitant runner in recent weeks as he played for a high ankle sprain.

Philadelphia could also be without a host of other starters as the team placed 12 players, including center Jason Kelce, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and tight end Dallas Goedert, on the reserve / Covid-19 roster on Monday. . It is not yet clear whether Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is considering resting any of his starters.