Chiefs have recipe to be even better in 2020 than Super Bowl LIV run

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This column is not going to be much more about the influence of attendance, or lack thereof, on NFL games this fall. We’ll have time to consider that. I did think that because of the oddness of the sports games we’re seeing, and the guerilla attacks of COVID on the MLB season and the potential of that in football, Merrifield’s take about the effect of an empty park on players was compelling. So there it is. At some point or points this year, teams will have to manufacture the emotion that normally would come from a full house of crazies. “If a team’s out of it, and no one’s in the stands, and that team has to manufacture the emotion you need in a football game, who knows?” said Chiefs GM Brett Veach.

This is more about the defending Super Bowl champs, what I saw in two padded practices last week, what I heard from their key people and what I think of their chances to beat back the Ravens and Niners and Titans and whatever surprise teams there will be in a COVID-plagued season that I increasingly think will be played in full. In brief:

• I liked the spirit of the team and the needed depth at receiver. As we all saw last year, Mahomes’ weaponry is deep, and it needs to be.

• Football Mahomes spent time during a mostly homebound offseason in a new home he bought in Dallas. What’d he do to get better? He studied tape, “trying to diagnose defenses even quicker,” he said.

• Life Mahomes is quite mature for a 24-year-old man who already has won the trifecta of NFL stardom: the MVP, the Super Bowl MVP, the huge contract. I asked him about signing the biggest deal in NFL history, the $472-million pact putting him in the LeBron/Trout/Mookie stratosphere. “For me,” Mahomes said, “it was about building generational wealth, wealth for my kids and my kids’ kids.” Generational wealth. Who says that at 24? When Andy Reid says of Mahomes, “He just gets it,” that’s precisely what he’s talking about.

• Draft Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of your fantasy draft. Believe me, you’ll thank me for that tip on the LSU rookie.

• With sun occasionally reflecting off his coronavirus-protective face shield like a popping flashbulb, Reid looked very into the work of repeating his first Super Bowl title, and sounded a little feisty. “He’s just as energetic as when I first met him [in 2004], working with the Eagles,” Veach said. “Maybe more.”

• The continuity thing is big here. All but two of 22 starters return (though cornerback Bashaud Breeland is here, he’s suspended for the first four games for an NFL rules violation), and 21 of 22 coaches are back. I saw QB coach Mike Kafka showing Mahomes some mechanical tweak about handoffs on the sidelines, Mahomes nodding and soaking it in. To me, those almost imperceptible things show the respect of players for coaches they’ve gone to battle with, and the importance of 96 percent of them returning. Remember Mahomes coming to the sideline in that desperate moment of the Super Bowl, down 10 with eight minutes left on third-and-15, asking offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy: “Do we have time to run Wasp?” They did. The 44-yard heave to Tyreek Hill turned the game around, 2-3 Jet Wasp ended up on T-shirts throughout the Midwest, and the rest is history. Kafka, Bieniemy, Reid, architects of the offense that put up 51, 35 and 31 points in the postseason—all still here. “They think as one mind,” Mahomes told me.

• Concerning desire . . . I can’t see guys like Tyrann Mathieu, 2019’s instant defensive leader, getting fat and happy now that he’s got a ring. Scene from 1-on-1 WR-DB competition Thursday: Wideout Demarcus Robinson ran an eight-yard curl on Mathieu. As the pass got near Robinson, Mathieu powered through him and deflected the pass away. “Woooo!” Matthieu yelled, jumping up and making the “incomplete” motion with his hands.

“It’ll be a special team,” Mahomes said.

Two newsy things I saw at the two practices: a very heavy dose of Edwards-Helaire, who played with the sensational Joe Burrow at LSU last year and now fortunately upgrades to Mahomes. Edwards-Helaire will start and should be an impact player from day one. Also, the dangerous Tyreek Hill looked like he tweaked a groin muscle Thursday on a go route, sprinting for a deep pass. He went inside after that, and still wasn’t practicing Saturday. I hear he’ll be back this week and it’s not serious. But groin and hamstring tweaks are worries with a finely tuned athlete like Hill, so we’ll see how he responds. The Thursday night opener against Houston is 17 days away. This is why depth at receiver is so vital and why, honestly, the Chiefs were seriously considering drafting Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs in April if he plummeted in round one; instead, he went 12th overall to the Raiders. Gluttonous? Maybe. But for Reid and Veach, the idea that you can’t have enough speed is not a cliché.

Regarding Edwards-Helaire, check out the first four plays of 11-on-11 practice Wednesday:

• Mahomes handed to Edwards-Helaire, through the right guard-tackle hole.
• Mahomes handed to Edwards-Helaire, around left end.
• Mahomes handed to Edwards-Helaire, over right guard.
• Mahomes handed to Edwards-Helaire, over right tackle.

On Thursday, Edwards-Helaire was back in the same spotlight. First three snaps of an 11-on-11 period, all handoffs to him. He ran a wheel route out of the backfield, Mahomes threw it slightly behind him, and the kid caught it in stride, one-handed, and headed upfield like he’d done this a thousand times before. Built low to the ground, with powerful-looking legs, sort of like Kareem Hunt, Edwards-Helaire could not have been much more impressive in the two practices I saw.

Now, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that Reid’s going to use Edwards-Helaire as a rookie the same way Reid used Hunt as a rookie in 2017. Hunt touched it 325 times (remember his 246-yards-from-scrimmage demolition of the Patriots on opening night in Foxboro?) in that rookie season, winning the rushing title and becoming an instant threat in the passing game too. But this is practice, scripted from start to finish; maybe this is two days of getting timing down with Edwards-Helaire. But I doubt it’s just that. I say he’ll be a stud, a prime candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He appears a confident and sure runner who can make people miss, a better runner between the tackles than a 5-foot-8, 209-pound guy should be, and a smooth and assured receiver. Veach told me: “He’s on pace to have a big year, to be our primary ballcarrier.”

Watching practice reinforced what I thought of Reid’s playbook with all these toys. One play can have so many tributaries, as I saw on two straight snaps Wednesday. First: Tight end Travis Kelce tight to the formation right, with Mecole Hardman, Hill and Demarcus Robinson all spread right, and Edwards-Helaire in motion almost to the right sideline . . . five receivers to Mahomes’ right. Mahomes overthrew a deep ball. Second: Hardman-Hill-Robinson in a tight bunch to the right, Hill at the tip of the triangle; Hardman and Robinson shimmied at the line, there was some defensive confusion, and Hill blew past Breeland. This time, Mahomes’ deep ball was perfect. Touchdown.

Mindful of so much from the playoffs last winter. On KC’s final 26 non-kneeldown possessions of the 2019 postseason, Mahomes drove to score 16 touchdowns and two field goals . . . 117 points in 11 quarters.

That’s a lot. That’s 39.0 points per game.

So much of that comes from matchup problems created by blinding speed and a great tight end, and running backs with multiplicity. Aaron Rodgers has to watch this team and dream. Or mourn.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 14: Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Dolphins vs Chargers on SNF

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Week 14 on Sunday Night Football features a matchup between Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins against Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock. December is here and Week 14 means that we’re officially thinking about the NFL playoff picture, and who will be in contention for a spot in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, this February. Here’s how things stand in the playoff picture heading into the weekend:

RELATED: FMIA Week 13 – Brock Purdy Gets The Save And The Starting Job; Burrow Still Owns Mahomes And The Chiefs

Where do the Dolphins and Chargers stand in the 2022 NFL Playoff Picture ahead of Week 14?

Miami Dolphins:

Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins (8-4) are currently in Wild Card position despite a brutal 33-17 loss against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13 where the third-year QB injured his ankle on a strip sack late in the 4th quarter. According to Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, the injury is not serious and Tagovailoa is expected to start this Sunday. The Dolphins are 14-3 in Tagovailoa’s last 17 starts dating back to Week 11 last season and look to make their first playoff appearance since 2016. Tagovailoa currently leads the NFL in passer rating (112.0) and yds/attempt (9.02).

RELATED: Mike McDaniel – I don’t anticipate any setback that would keep Tua Tagovailoa from playing

LA Chargers:

Herbert and the LA Chargers (6-6) are currently in the hunt for a playoff spot and sit one game behind the New England Patriots after picking up their 3rd loss in the last 4 games last Thursday against the Raiders. The Chargers have not made it to the playoffs since 2018 when they lost 48-21 in the Divisional round to the New England Patriots. Herbert, also a third-year quarterback drafted one pick behind Tagovailoa in 2020, is looking to make his first career playoff appearance.

See below for the 2022 NFL playoff clinching scenarios and standings for Week 14 as well as additional information on how to watch and live stream this week’s Dolphins vs Chargers match-up.

RELATED: How to watch Dolphins vs Chargers  – TV/Live Stream info for Sunday night’s game

2022 NFL Playoff Clinching Scenarios for Week 14:

Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) vs Denver Broncos (3-9) – Sunday, December 11 (4:05 PM ET)

The Kansas City Chiefs can clinch the AFC West division title with the following:

  • A win against the Broncos AND a LA Chargers loss against the Miami Dolphins.

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) vs. Detroit Lions (5-7) – Sunday, December 11 (1:00 PM ET)

The Minnesota Vikings can clinch the NFC North division title this Sunday with the following:

  • A win or tie against the Lions.

Philadelphia Eagles (11-1) vs New York Giants (7-4-1) – Sunday, December 11 (1:00 PM ET)

The Philadelphia Eagles can clinch a playoff berth with the following:

  • A win or tie against the New York Giants

OR

  • A San Francisco 49ers loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers AND a Seattle Seahawks loss against the Carolina Panthers.

RELATED: PFT’s Week 14 2022 NFL Power Rankings

AFC Standings – Week 14

  1. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
  4. Tennessee Titans (7-5)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
  6. Miami Dolphins (8-4)
  7. New York Jets (7-5)

In the Hunt:
New England Patriots (6-6)
Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
Las Vegas Raiders (5-7)

NFC Standings – Week 14

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (9-3)
  6. NY Giants (7-4-1)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)

In the Hunt:
Washington Commanders (7-5-1)
Detroit Lions (5-7)
Green Bay Packers (5-8)

Which teams have been eliminated from playoff contention?

The Bears (3-10) and Texans (1-10-1) were both eliminated from playoff contention in Week 13. The Cardinals and Broncos could face elimination in Week 14.

RELATED: Bills move into first place in AFC


How to watch the Miami Dolphins vs LA Chargers:

  • Where: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
  • When: Sunday, December 11
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Miami Dolphins vs LA Chargers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins (8-4) will battle it out with Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers (6-6) as the race for the playoffs heats up in the AFC. The Dolphins currently hold one of the AFC’s Wild Card spots and sit one game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. The Chargers are one game behind the NY Jets for the division’s final playoff spot.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 14 – Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Dolphins vs Chargers on SNF

Sunday night’s game was originally scheduled to feature a match-up between the Chiefs vs Broncos but the NFL made the decision to flex the game early last week. The Chiefs vs Broncos game will now take place at 4:05 p.m. ET.

Live coverage of the Dolphins vs Chargers game begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s games as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season.

RELATED: FMIA Week 13 – Brock Purdy Gets The Save And The Starting Job; Burrow Still Owns Mahomes And The Chiefs

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 13 – Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Colts vs Cowboys on SNF

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – Broncos do just enough to pull off 11-10 win over 49ers

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs dominate Bucs 41-31

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Justin Tucker’s last-play field goal delivers 19-17 win for Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Eagles intercept Cooper Rush three times in 26-17 win

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Kenny Pickett throws two late INTs, allowing Miami to escape with 16-10 win

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Bills beat Packers 27-17 for fourth win in a row

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Patrick Mahomes leads Chiefs to comeback overtime victory over Titans

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – 49ers dominate Chargers in second half to win 22-16

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Travis Kelce’s third touchdown leads Chiefs to late comeback win

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Vikings improve to 9-2 with 33-26 victory over Patriots

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers lose Aaron Rodgers, another game as Eagles rush for 363 in 40-33 win

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Cowboys Too Much For Colts In Fourth Quarter Of A 54-19 Beatdown

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Dolphins at Chargers

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Giants at Commanders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!