Divisional Playoffs dividing bettors for Sunday games
The Cleveland Browns are 10-point underdogs as Sunday's Divisional Playoff game at Kansas City approaches, and the largest spread line of the weekend is dividing bettors.The Chiefs (14-2) are coming off a bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They're rested and playing host to a Browns team still managing its way through a COVID-19 outbreak.However, Kansas City has failed to cover the spread in eight consecutive games. The Chiefs are being backed by 59 percent of the spread handle at BetRivers.com and 52 percent at DraftKings, but only 42 percent at FanDuel as of Friday.Bettors are showing much more confidence in the Chiefs' moneyline, backing them with 89 percent of the handle at -500 at FanDuel and 89 percent at DraftKings. BetRivers.com is offering Kansas City at -480, which is being backed by 86 percent of the handle.The Over/Under has been set at 57 percent by all three sportsbooks. The Over is being backed by 89 percent of the handle at FanDuel, 85 percent at BetRivers.com and 83 percent at DraftKings.The Browns are coming off an explosive 48-37 upset of Pittsburgh in the wild-card round, which elevated them into Sunday's game.Despite sitting out the Jan. 3 setback to the Los Angeles Chargers, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped engineer a 14-2 season for Kansas City while passing for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns. He will square off against Baker Mayfield as they reprise their old Big 12 shootouts.The Chiefs scored at least 31 points in each of their postseason wins a year ago. Travis Kelce, who set an NFL record for tight ends with 1,416 receiving yards, also sat out the defeat against the Chargers, which snapped a 10-game Chiefs winning streak.The final game of the Divisional Playoffs will feature future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and Drew Brees going toe-to-toe in what could be another shootout.DraftKings and FanDuel have both set the Over/Under for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints game at 52, with the Over being backed by 81 percent of the handle at the former and 83 percent at the latter.Brees' Saints are 3-point favorites at all three books.New Orleans swept the regular-season series, but the Bucs are being backed by 63 percent of the spread handle at BetRivers and 56 percent at FanDuel.The action is more divided at DraftKings, where the Saints are backed by 51 percent of the spread handle. However, the Bucs (+175) are backed by 75 percent of the moneyline handle. Tampa Bay is being backed by 72 percent of the moneyline handle at BetRivers at +155, and 68 percent at FanDuel at +148.New Orleans is the only team to have defeated Brady twice in the same season.
Chiefs' Clyde Edwards-Helaire questionable vs. Browns
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is questionable for Sunday's AFC divisional round playoff game against the Cleveland Browns despite missing practice for the second straight day.Chiefs coach Andy Reid announced the playing statuses of Edwards-Helaire, wide receiver Sammy Watkins and linebacker Willie Gay on Friday. Watkins (calf) and Gay (ankle) were ruled out of Sunday's home game.Edwards-Helaire, who is nursing hip and ankle injuries, missed the final two games of the regular season.Despite those absences, Edwards-Helaire recorded team-leading totals in carries (181), rushing yards (803) and rushing touchdowns (four). He also had 36 catches for 297 yards and a score since being selected by Kansas City with the 32nd overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.Running backs Le'Veon Bell and Darrel Williams would see an increase in snaps should Edwards-Helaire be limited or unable to play against Cleveland.
Well-rested Chiefs host upset-minded Browns
Time off for Patrick Mahomes has not equated to time away from football.He practiced for the Kansas City Chiefs. He cheered teammates on while sitting out the last regular-season game. And then last week, with the bye that goes to the top seed in the AFC playoffs, Mahomes scouted opponents.He will rely on what he learned about the Cleveland Browns, who will be coming off an explosive 48-37 upset of Pittsburgh in the wild-card round, which elevated them into the divisional round Sunday at Kansas City, Mo."I had a day's worth of film on the Browns," said Mahomes, "so whenever we found that out, I was able to look back at that and look at my notes and see how it presents to us."Despite sitting out the Jan. 3 setback to the Los Angeles Chargers, Mahomes helped engineer a 14-2 season for Kansas City while passing for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns. He will square off against Baker Mayfield as they reprise their old Big 12 shootouts."To be able to play against him on this stage is going to be special," Mahomes said. "I mean, he went to Oklahoma, I went to Texas Tech, so he got the better of me in college, so I'll try to do my best to win in the NFL."Mahomes knows he has the weapons to accomplish that feat, especially after the Chiefs scored at least 31 points in each of their postseason wins a year ago. Travis Kelce, who set an NFL record for tight ends with 1,416 receiving yards, also sat out the defeat against the Chargers, which snapped a 10-game Chiefs' winning streak."Everybody kind of locks in a little bit more and gets excited to play when the playoffs come around, especially in this building, especially (Mahomes) himself," Kelce said.The same could be said of the Browns after claiming their first playoff win since 1994.Cleveland should regain several players off the reserve/COVID-19 list -- Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio was removed Friday -- while coach Kevin Stefanski returned to practice on Thursday after his own stint with the virus."We're looking forward to getting a full complement of guys," Stefanski said. "Anytime you get good players back, whether it be injury or COVID list, it's always a big boost for your entire team."Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson have been activated and will provide depth to a secondary that grabbed four interceptions against Pittsburgh. Receiver KhaDarel Hodge was also taken off coronavirus protocols.
Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns to practice
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the final two games of the regular season.The move represents a positive sign for Edwards-Helaire's chances to play in Sunday's divisional playoff game versus the visiting Cleveland Browns."He just went right at it. Fearless with (his rehabilitation). And as a result, he's probably a little bit ahead," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Edwards-Helaire, who has been nursing hip and ankle injuries.Edwards-Helaire, 21, has team-leading totals in carries (181), rushing yards (803) and rushing touchdowns (four) since being selected by Kansas City with the 32nd overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. He also has 36 catches for 297 yards and a score.Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, also participated in practice on Wednesday.
Aaron Donald, Travis Kelce anchor All-Pro team
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce were unanimous selections to the 2020 Associated Press All-Pro team announced Friday.Donald and Kelce swept all 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members.It is the sixth consecutive selection for Donald, 29, who registered 13.5 sacks for a Rams defense that finished No. 1 in the NFL in scoring defense and total defense.It is the third selection for Kelce (2016, 2018). The 31-year-old helped the Chiefs secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and set a record for tight ends with 1,416 receiving yards.The Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts both had four players on the list.Quarterback and leading MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers (third selection), left tackle David Bakhtiari (second), center Corey Linsley (first) and wide receiver Davante Adams (first) helped the Packers (13-3) secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC.Left guard Quenton Nelson (third), linebacker Darius Leonard (second), defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and special teamer George Odum each earned their first All-Pro nods for the Colts, who finished 11-5 and earned a wild-card berth.Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry was honored for the first time after rushing for 2,027 yards and capturing his second straight NFL rushing title.
Reports: Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy completes five interviews
Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy interviewed with five NFL teams about their head coaching vacancies.He met Wednesday with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets following interviews earlier this week with the Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions, according to multiple news outlets.The only team with a vacancy that has not interviewed Bieniemy is the Houston Texans.
Herbert sets rookie passing records as Chargers dump Chiefs
Justin Herbert concluded his season with an NFL rookie record 31 touchdown passes, tossing three Sunday as the Los Angeles Chargers pounded the Kansas City Chiefs 38-21 at Kansas City, Mo.Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick out of Oregon, completed 22 of 31 attempts for 302 yards. The Chargers finished 7-9 with four straight victories while snapping a 10-game winning streak for the Chiefs (14-2).Elevated to starter in a week two overtime loss to Kansas City, Herbert also set a rookie record for completions (396). He threw for 4,336 yards, 38 short of the rookie record set by Andrew Luck in 2012. Herbert also tied a franchise record with his eighth 300-yard outing.Kansas City played without Patrick Mahomes and several other standouts, including Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu, after clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs a week earlierDrawing his first start since 2014 with Jacksonville, Chad Henne passed for 218 yards and two touchdowns quarterbacking the Chiefs. Darwin Thompson posted 110 yards on 21 touches, with two scores.While it did not sit as many regulars as the Chiefs, Los Angeles played without several standouts, including Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Joey Bosa. The Chargers lost Austin Ekeler to a concussion late in the first half after he recorded 13 touches and caught a 5-yard TD pass.Herbert also fired TD strikes of 8 yards to Donald Parham and 48 yards to Mike Williams.
Chiefs' Hill, Watkins, Edwards-Helaire out vs. Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins as well as rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire have been ruled out for this weekend's game against the Los Angeles Chargers.Hill (hamstring), Watkins (calf) and Edwards-Helaire (ankle) are nursing injuries for the Chiefs (14-1), who have clinched the top seed in the AFC.Kansas City coach Andy Reid said earlier in the week that quarterback Chad Henne will start versus the visiting Chargers (6-9). Henne is getting the nod over Patrick Mahomes (rest).Running back Le'Veon Bell, who has been bothered by an ailing knee, returned to practice on Friday. He is questionable for Sunday's game.Hill, 26, has 87 receptions for 1,276 yards with a career-best 15 touchdowns this season.
Chiefs dominating Super Bowl odds -- and action
The Kansas City Chiefs have the shortest Super Bowl odds, but that isn't dissuading bettors from backing the defending champions.The Chiefs are being offered at +190 by DraftKings, where they are being backed by 28 percent of the total bets and 21 percent of the total handle.Part of that is due to Kansas City being among the top two favorites throughout the season. The Baltimore Ravens passed them at some books early in the season, but quickly fell off following a loss to the Chiefs and are now fighting just to make the postseason.The Ravens are now +1400 to win the Super Bowl by DraftKings, but are still second only to the Chiefs with 10 percent of the total bets. Seven percent of the handle has been placed on Baltimore. Similarly, the Dallas Cowboys (+10000) are backed by three percent of the bets and handle despite needing to win and get some help on Sunday just to make the playoffs.Tampa Bay also made a surge up the odds before a midseason slump. They've clinched a wild-card spot and are backed by nine percent of the bets and 12 percent of the handle. The Buccaneers are currently being offered at +1100.
Chiefs looking to stay healthy vs. Chargers
Apparently subbing for Patrick Mahomes provides a potential shot of youthful exuberance.With the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs already secured by Kansas City (14-1), the Chiefs will rest their MVP candidate Sunday when they play host to the Los Angeles Chargers (6-9).Mahomes' backup, Chad Henne, is no stranger to the NFL. That didn't prevent Chiefs coach Andy Reid, however, from telling his backup quarterback to go be a kid again."I think he's excited," Reid said. "I told him, ‘Act like you're 20, man, and try to remember those days and feel it.' He's all in."Henne, 35, will start for the first time since the first three games of the 2014 season with Jacksonville. He entered as a reserve in two blowouts this season, completing 5 of 6 passes while rushing for one touchdown after missing all of last season with a fractured ankle.Not quite the numbers Mahomes has posted leading Kansas City to 10 straight wins as the NFL passing leader with 4,740 yards.The Chiefs have already established a club-best win total and can set another franchise record with an 11th consecutive win in the same season.Nonetheless, Reid embraced the opportunity to rest several regulars before the Chiefs observe a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs."It's crazy to think it's my first (start) since 2014," Henne said. "I got all my games in when I was young and then I had like a five- or six-year span where I didn't get much playing time. I'm excited and excited about the group we're going to have out there."The lineup could lack some firepower the Chiefs typically deploy.Tyreek Hill (hamstring), Le'Veon Bell (knee), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) and Sammy Watkins (calf) all missed practice Wednesday. Travis Kelce could be another weapon the Chiefs sit since he has already set the NFL season record for receiving yardage (1,416) by a tight end and the franchise record for catches (105).
Chiefs QB Henne to start vs. Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes will receive a breather in this weekend's regular-season finale against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers.Chad Henne will start Sunday for the Chiefs (14-1), who have clinched the top seed in the AFC."Chad will go ahead and play, yeah," Reid said on Wednesday. "And there's a good chance that Matt (Moore) is up, but we'll see when it's all said and done how that all works out."Henne, 35, will start his first game since the 2014 season, when he played for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kelce sets single-season mark for yardage by a tight end
Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce had 98 receiving yards on Sunday to set a new single-season record for a tight end with 1,416 yards.He surpassed the mark set by San Francisco's George Kittle, who had 1,377 in 2018.Kelce also caught seven passes in the 17-14 win over the Atlanta Falcons to raise his season total to a career-best 105 and become the first tight end to have 100 or more catches twice in a career. He also recorded his career-best 11th touchdown reception.Kelce, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, was more impressed that the Chiefs (14-1) earned the AFC's No. 1 seed for the postseason and landed the first-round bye than his individual accomplishments."To get a week of preparation, a week of really locking in and getting the body right that late in the season is so key, and it's much needed if you want to make that playoff push," Kelce said after the contest. "That's what you work your tail off for all season. I'm just proud to be a part of this team and be able to do it again this year."
Chiefs edge Falcons to clinch No. 1 seed in AFC
The Kansas City Chiefs overcame a sluggish offensive performance Sunday to clinch the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs by edging the visiting Atlanta Falcons, 17-14.Patrick Mahomes completed 24 of 44 passes for 278 yards with two touchdowns and one of the Chiefs' two interceptions against an Atlanta defense that came in ranked 31st in the NFL against the pass.Mahomes' 25-yard touchdown strike to Demarcus Robinson with 2:01 remaining proved to be the game-winner that enabled Kansas City (14-1) to set a franchise record for regular season wins.Atlanta (4-11) put Younghoe Koo in position for a 39-yard field goal to force overtime but the Pro Bowl kicker missed with 9 seconds remaining. Before the misfire, Koo had made 35 of 36 field goals this season.Matt Ryan completed 27 of 35 passes for 300 yards and two scores, including a 5-yard touchdown to Laquon Treadwell with 4:33 left for a 14-10 lead. Calvin Ridley finished with 130 yards on five receptions.Despite 38 game-winning drives for his career, Ryan remains without such a march this season.Travis Kelce grabbed seven receptions for 98 yards, including two grabs on the Chiefs' game-winning drive. With 1,416 yards, Kelce broke George Kittle's NFL single-season record (1,377 in 2018) for receiving yards by a tight end.
WR Jones (hamstring) among four Falcons out vs. Chiefs
Receiver Julio Jones is among four Atlanta Falcons starters have been ruled for Sunday's game against at Kansas City, the team announced Friday.Jones' injured hamstring prevented him from practicing this week and will cause him to miss his third straight game and fourth out of the past five.Jones, 31, has caught 51 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns in the nine games he's been active in this season for the Falcons (4-10), who have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Keeping focus on Falcons not a problem, Chiefs insist
Home-field advantage in the playoffs is a select prize this season after the NFL amended its playoff structure so seven teams from each conference qualify and only the top seed draws a first-round bye.The Kansas City Chiefs (13-1) are in prime position to earn the weekend off in the AFC. Nonetheless, the reigning Super Bowl champions are reluctant to acknowledge their superiority entering a home game Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons (4-10)."Never bank on others; get your guys ready to go,'' said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who insisted he would not study playoff scenarios to shape alternative lineup plans."If you go there," he added, "then you get your tail kicked. I don't allow myself to go in that direction. We've got to maximize ourselves against a team that's playing hard. These games that they've lost, over half of them have gone into the fourth quarter."By beating or tying the Falcons, the Chiefs can clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs and with it, a first-round bye and home-field advantage. Other scenarios could assure the Chiefs of the top spot, but they seem focused on variables they can control."If you keep winning games,'' said quarterback Patrick Mahomes, "those things have a way of working out on their own."Kansas City's dominance during a season marred by unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic includes a nine-game winning streak and the announcement this week of seven Pro Bowl selections.A 14th regular-season win would establish a franchise record.Travis Kelce needs 60 yards receiving to break the NFL record for tight ends held by San Francisco's George Kittle (1,377). Kelce also needs two receptions to become the first NFL tight end with 100 catches in back-to-back seasons.The fact that each of Kansas City's last six opponents have kept the outcome to a one-score margin could encourage Atlanta, which has seven losses by one score.Discouraging, however, is that the Falcons are No. 31 in the NFL in passing yards allowed, especially going against a Chiefs team ranked first in average passing yards.
Chiefs WR Hill (hamstring) misses practice
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill sat out Wednesday's practice due to a hamstring injury, coach Andy Reid said.Reid said Hill's hamstring tightened up during the Week 15 game against the New Orleans Saints. Reid said Hill should be able to play against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday."We're taking Tyreek day-by-day," Reid told reporters. "His hamstring tightened up on him a bit during the game. I think he's going to be fine I just want to make sure that thing gets a rest here today and then we'll just see how it goes tomorrow."If he needs a rest tomorrow, we'll rest him tomorrow. He went through the walkthrough and did all of that. I think he's going to be OK."Hill has 83 receptions for 1,211 yards and has an NFL-best 15 touchdown receptions this season.Hill was named a Pro Bowler for the fifth time earlier this week.Reid said rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) wasn't injured seriously in the game against New Orleans. Edwards-Helaire, who has rushed for 803 yards, isn't expected to play in the team's final two regular-season games.
Chiefs subdue Saints, Brees for ninth consecutive win
Patrick Mahomes threw three touchdown passes and the visiting Kansas City Chiefs won their ninth consecutive game by defeating the New Orleans Saints 32-29 on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.Mahomes completed 26 of 47 for 254 yards as the Chiefs improved their NFL-best record to 13-1.Drew Brees returned from a four-game absence due to rib and lung injuries to complete 15 of 34 passes for 234 yards with three touchdowns and an interception as the Saints (10-4) lost their second straight after a nine-game winning streak.The Chiefs led at halftime, but Brees threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Latavius Murray on the first possession of the third quarter to give the Saints their only lead at 15-14.Mahomes answered on the ensuing possession with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman that gave Kansas City a 21-15 lead at the end of the third quarter.Le'Veon Bell's 13-yard touchdown run and Mahomes' two-point pass to Travis Kelce increased the Chiefs' lead to 29-15 with 13:44 to go.Mahomes fumbled on Kansas City's next possession, and Kwon Alexander recovered for the Saints at the Chiefs 25. Three plays later, Brees tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara to pull New Orleans within 29-22 with 9:43 left.The Chiefs' Harrison Butker kicked a 22-yard field goal before Brees threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Lil'Jordan Humphrey to cut the Chiefs' lead to 32-29 with 2:06 left. Kansas City then gained two first downs and ran out the clock.
Report: Chiefs RB Edwards-Helaire has high ankle sprain
Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a high ankle sprain and a strained hip, ESPN reported Monday.The first-round pick from LSU sustained the injuries during the Chiefs' 32-29 victory Sunday in New Orleans.He exited the game in the fourth quarter and could not put weight on his left leg as the team's medical staff helped him off the field. He finished with 14 carries for 79 yards and one reception for 4 yards.The injury happened at the end of a 4-yard run by Edwards-Helaire, who was bent backward while being tackled.The 21-year-old newcomer leads the Chiefs (13-1) with 803 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. He also has caught 36 passes for 297 yards and one touchdown.
Chiefs RB Edwards-Helaire leaves with leg injury
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire left in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints because of a leg injury.Edwards-Helaire could not put weight on his left leg as the team's medical staff helped him exit the field. He had 14 carries for 79 yards and one reception for 4 yards when he left the game.The injury happened at the end of a carry for Edwards-Helaire, who jerked his body in pain after a Saints defender inadvertently rolled up on his leg.
Chiefs, Saints meet with Super Bowl-sized expectations
The Kansas City Chiefs sit alone atop the AFC.The New Orleans Saints are tied for the best record in the NFC, tough they sit as the No. 2 seed because of an early-season loss to Green Bay.The Chiefs (12-1) have clinched their fifth consecutive AFC West title and the host Saints (10-3) are on the verge of clinching their fourth consecutive NFC South title as the two teams meet in one of the marquee match-ups of the regular season, and a potential Super Bowl preview, Sunday.The game will take on even more glamour if Saints quarterback Drew Brees can return from injured reserve to face Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champions."Hopefully I get to go up against him," Mahomes said of Brees. "but if not, hopefully we'll get to face him some other time."Brees, who has missed the last four games because of rib and lung injuries, was designated to return to practice by the Saints on Wednesday.That means Brees can practice with the team and is eligible to come off of injured reserve any time during the next three weeks. But he won't appear on the practice report until he is activated, and whether he is able to return against the Chiefs likely will be determined later in the week."He's got a ways to go still, and he's someone we're not going to just hurry back and just put him in the game," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "I think the significance of the injuries are such that you've got to make sure he can function and feel confident."The Saints' surprising 24-21 loss at Philadelphia last week was their first loss with Taysom Hill starting in Brees' place. That lost ended New Orleans' nine-game winning streak, leaving Kansas City's eight-game winning streak as the longest in the NFL.Mahomes is the leading passer in the NFL and he had his sixth consecutive 300-yard game in a 33-27 victory at Miami last week, giving him a league-high nine games this season in which he's reached that mark.He could face strong pressure from the Saints No. 2-rated defense, which is tied for seventh with 36 sacks. All-Pro tackle Mitchell Schwartz (back) has not returned from injured reserve and the two tackles who have been starting in his absence -- Eric Fisher and Mike Remmers -- both missed practice Wednesday because of back issues.