Following the Kansas City Chiefs’ 25-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, head coach Andy Reid has a few key decisions to make.
While the Chiefs (10-6) head to Los Angeles to face the Chargers (5-11) in Week 18, the matchup holds no special value. Kansas City has punched their ticket to the playoffs and are locked in at the No. 3 seed whether or not they win.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes isn’t sure if he’ll play in Week 18. Speaking to reporters after defeating the Bengals on New Year’s Eve, the two-time Super Bowl MVP also wasn’t aware that they clinched the No. 3 spot.
“I didn’t know that, but I kind of just let Coach Reid make all those decisions,” Mahomes said. “If he wants us to build off this momentum I’ll be ready to roll. If he wants to give us some rest I’ll get that rest, prepare for whoever we’re going to face, and get ready for the playoffs.”
Reid was also unsure on if he’ll rest his starters after the Chiefs earned the AFC West title for the eighth straight season. “I haven’t gotten there yet,” he told reporters.
Considering how poorly the offense has played lately, Reid could want Mahomes and Co. to receive more playing time before their postseason run starts. However, placing starters at danger of getting injured in a zero-consequence game is a massive gamble.
Patrick Mahomes Is Not Predicted to Play Against the ChargersMost things lean toward Mahomes not suiting up in Week 18. Pro Football Talk’s Michael Davis Smith stated, “An injury to Mahomes would be so devastating to the Chiefs that it’s hard to believe they’ll risk him in a meaningless game. Mahomes has probably played his last game of the regular season, and we’ll see him next in the playoffs.”
Based on what Reid has done in the position before, The Kansas City Star’s Jesse Newell agrees. “When the Chiefs had nothing to play for in the season’s final week, Reid has kept his main guys out,” Newell wrote. “The last instance was in the 2020 season, when KC went with its backups in a 38-21 loss to the Chargers after clinching the No. 1 seed with a 14-1 record.
“Another instance should be familiar as well. Mahomes guided KC to a 27-24 win at Denver in his first NFL start during the 2017 regular-season finale, while the Chiefs had already won the No. 4 seed with QB Alex Smith.”
The Chiefs won’t discover which team will be their first playoff opponent until Week 18 concludes. However, in the likely scenario if Miami loses to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football, the Chiefs will face the Dolphins at home in the Wild Card round.
Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, & Other Starters Have Big Incentives to Play in Week 18
While getting to relax before the postseason starts sounds ideal, there are numerous starters who may want to at least play a few snaps. Whether Reid will let it is another story.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is 16 yards away from notching his seventh consecutive season with over 1,000 yards. It’s unknown if there’s a financial bonus in his contract for that accomplishment, but the future Hall-of-Famer’s unprecedented streak will come to an end if he doesn’t play.
Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco could be itching to take some major snaps, as he’s 65 yards away from recording his first season with over 1,000 yards. Wide receiver Rashee Rice only needs only 62 yards before notching 1,000 yards in his first season.
As for defensive tackle Chris Jones, he earns a $1.25 million incentive if he records 10 sacks, citing AtoZ Sports. Thus far this season, Jones has tallied 9.5 sacks.
Despite the massive incentive, the veteran hinted he’ll be good with whatever Reid selects. “I want to play, okay?” Jones told reporters. “I want to play. But I realize the value. Usually, for the past few years, we’ve had a bye week… If Coach Reid decides to rest us, I’ll more than likely accept the rest. I could use the week off. I’ve got a few nicks and bruises. I’m sure the team could use it.”