Wed Jan 13 6:43pm ET
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes watches from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Injured Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, left, stands next to quarterback John Wolford (9) before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. Jared Goff is trying to return for the Los Angeles Rams' playoff game at Seattle just 13 days after thumb surgery. If he can't go, backup John Wolford will make his second NFL start. The Rams (10-6) are confident they can win with either man behind center. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen (17) celebrates with teammate Stefon Diggs (14) after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, right, talks with quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) on the sideline during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Washington Football Team, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scrambles against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. The Ravens won 20-13. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes under pressure from Chicago Bears defensive tackle John Jenkins (90) in the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) scrambles as he looks for room to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)
Andy Reid has been here before, with a young franchise quarterback on a team contending for the Super Bowl year after year.
The Kansas City coach is at it again with Patrick Mahomes, and thrilled to see similarly youthful leaders among the AFC playoff teams in what is the biggest QB age discrepancy between conferences in the divisional round since the merger.
How big's the gap? Well, for starters, a pair of 40-somethings will face off in the NFC with Tampa Bay's Tom Brady and Drew Brees of New Orleans. Meantime, the elder statesman of AFC playoff quarterbacks is 25-year-old Baker Mayfield.
''I think it's great for the game, this influx of new guys at the position,'' said Reid, who went to four consecutive NFC championship games with Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, starting with the 2000 season. ''It's great for viewers, fans, cities. It gives these different cities an opportunity to compete.''
To Reid's point, Buffalo won a playoff game for the first time in 25 years with 24-year-old Josh Allen in charge. Cleveland ended an 18-year playoff drought behind Mayfield and humbled six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh in the wild-card round.
Reid and Mahomes, also 25 but 156 days younger than Mayfield, are a win over the Browns away from their third consecutive AFC championship game after the Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years last season.
Baltimore's Lamar Jackson, the 24-year-old 2019 MVP, has his first playoff victory in hand, over Tennessee, as the Ravens prepare to visit the Bills.
''My mother-in-law sent me something the other day saying I was the old guy,'' Mayfield said. ''Somebody sent me just how close everybody is in age. It's pretty crazy to see between Josh and Lamar and obviously Pat. Pat's got the most experience out of all of us.''
Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay's decision on a starter will determine whether all four AFC quarterbacks are younger than the NFC quartet. If it's John Wolford, the 25-year-old is 29 days younger than Mahomes. Jared Goff is 26.
One of those two will face 37-year-old Aaron Rodgers in a visit to Green Bay, while Brees turning 42 on Friday means the meeting with the 43-year-old Brady on Sunday will make for the oldest pair of QBs in any game in NFL history (85 years).
With Goff starting, the average age of the NFC quarterbacks is 37 years, 77 days compared to 24 years, 344 days for the AFC group. The difference is 12 years, 98 days, which the NFL says is the biggest since 1970.
''I just think we've got a very good group of guys that came into the league around the same time so it just kind of ended up that way,'' Bills receiver Cole Beasley said. ''Also they ended up in pretty good situations with a lot of talent around them that helped. That's important, too.''
While the AFC quarterbacks are similar in age, the opposing offenses in each divisional game are anything but the same in style.
The Chiefs are No. 1 in passing and total offense while featuring the dynamic skills of Mahomes, the 2018 MVP before winning the Super Bowl MVP last season. Mayfield's offense leans on the running game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
The Ravens have the league's top rushing attack, in large part because of Jackson's skills outside the pocket, and are last in the NFL in passing. Allen quietly compiled MVP-type numbers for the league's third-best passing attack in Buffalo.
The NFC matchups are more about the resumes.
With Goff included, all four have started a Super Bowl, and the other three - Brady, Brees and Rodgers - have won a title. Brady has a QB-record six championships, not to mention the all-time playoff lead in games (42), wins (31), passing yards (11,769) and touchdowns (75).
Brady and Brees are 1-2 in career yards and touchdowns passing, regular season and playoffs included. Between them, they have thrown for more than 175,000 yards and 1,250 touchdowns going into the first-ever playoff game matching quarterbacks in their 40s.
''It speaks to the two guys that are playing,'' Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. ''They take great care of themselves and are two of the best that have ever played the game. Whether they're 25 or 43 and 42, it's spectacular when those guys play.''
The Buccaneers leaned heavily on Brady, finishing the regular season second to the Chiefs in passing. While Brees missed four games with rib and lung injuries, the Saints counted on him much less than in the past with Alvin Kamara in the backfield and Taysom Hill sending Brees to the sideline occasionally as a run-first QB.
The Rams and Packers have the most balanced offenses among the remaining teams. Green Bay ranks ninth in passing, eighth in rushing and fifth overall. LA is 13th, 10th and 11th.
Still, there's no question Rodgers' playmaking holds the key to success for receiver Davante Adams (18 touchdowns receiving) and running back Aaron Jones (1,104 yards rushing, nine TDs).
The Rams, on the other hand, won a regular-season finale to reach the playoffs and a wild-card game at Seattle with the QB spot in flux because of injuries. A dominant defense led the way.
Now, LA is the outlier in the NFC divisional round. Sure, Goff got his first two playoff victories on the way to a Super Bowl appearance two years ago. Brady, Brees and Rodgers? Try 50 playoff wins combined.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense was shredded by Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill in the first quarter of their Week 12 matchup, as Hill went off for 203 yards on seven catches and two touchdowns. Cornerback Carlton Davis was left on an island with Hill, and it didn't yield pretty results. "We'll help a little bit more than we did in that ballgame," Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said. Tampa's D allowed 462 yards passing to quarterback Patrick Mahomes and three touchdowns. Hill finished with 269 yards and three touchdowns on 13 catches (only 59 yards in the second half). Tight end Travis Kelce had eight catches for 82 yards. With offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz out, Bucs pass-rushers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul must get pressure on Mahomes to have a chance at getting last year's Super Bowl MVP out of his rhythm.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (leg) suffered a broken fibula in the Week 16 game against the New England Patriots. Beasley sat out the regular season finale in Week 17 before catching 14 passes for 145 yards in three postseason games against the Colts, Ravens and Chiefs. "It was bad the first game I played but after that, you take a few meds and suck it up," Beasley said with a chuckle. The injury wasn't a full break, but Beasley said it was painful in the wild-card win over the Colts. The 31-year-old veteran hauled in seven of his nine targets for 88 yards in the AFC Championship loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. Beasley set career-highs in catches (82), targets (107), receiving yards (967) and yards per catch (11.8) while visiting the end zone four times in 15 regular season games in 2020. He'll be back as Josh Allen's most trusted third-down weapon in 2021 and will be more expensive in PPR leagues as a result of his career-best season.
Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said that the team could reach a long-term contract extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason, and the GM plans to speak to the reigning NFL MVP in the next 10 days. Jackson just finished his third season and will command at least $40 million per season on an extension. He's scheduled to make $1.77 million in 2021 on the final year of his rookie deal, which currently ranks 25th among QBs in base salary. "[He] certainly deserves a contract," DeCosta said. Jackson has won more games (30) than any other QB since he took over as the team's starter in 2018 and became the fastest QB in history to reach 30 regular season wins (37 games). Jackson is also the first in NFL history to produce 5,000 yards passing and 2,500 yards rushing in his first three seasons. The young signal-caller has been more effective with his legs than his arm and has won just one playoff game, but Jackson should be locked up long term in Baltimore and will be a top-five fantasy QB yet again in 2021.
The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with former Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen on Monday as their new offensive coordinator, according to a source. Steichen was key in the development of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in 2020. New head coach Nick Sirianni and Steichen worked together with the Chargers for four years until Sirianni left for the Colts in 2018. Steichen started coaching in the NFL in Cleveland in 2013 as a quality control coach. He left for San Diego the following season and was their quality control coach for 2014-15. The 35-year-old took over the Chargers offense last season and helped nurture Herbert to a record-setting rookie season. Steichen will try and help Carson Wentz rebuild after the worst season of his career.
New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi is expected to become the new offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers, according to sources. New head coach Brandon Staley played under Lombardi for one year at Mercyhurst University in 2005 when Lombardi was the offensive coordinator. Lombardi is the grandson of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi and was the offensive coordinator for the Lions in 2014-15, but he was fired after a 1-6 start in his second year. He started his NFL career as a defensive assistant with the Falcons in 2006 before being hired by the Saints as an offensive assistant in 2007. Lombardi spent 12 seasons working with head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans and has also tutored QBs Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston in recent seasons. He'll be tasked with working with Justin Herbert, who became the youngest QB in history to throw 30 touchdowns in his rookie season.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was uncertain about his future after the team's 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship on Sunday. The 37-year-old is expected to win the MVP this year and is under contract through the 2023 season via the $134 million extension he signed in 2018. But the Packers also drafted Jordan Love, Rodgers' possible replacement, in the first round last year. Rodgers threw 48 touchdowns and only five interceptions in the regular season in 2020, but he also became the first QB in NFL history to lose four straight appearances in a conference championship. If Green Bay were to move on from Rodgers this offseason, they'd save just $4.76 million on the salary cap and would have $31.556 million in dead money. Rodgers may be contemplating retirement, but the Packers want him back and he'd be a high-end QB1 if he does return after going 33-for-48 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the loss to Tampa to end the season.
The Los Angeles Chargers are hiring Denver Broncos defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill as their new defensive coordinator on Monday, according to sources. Hill worked with head coach Brandon Staley in Denver in 2019 and played in the league for a decade. Staley said last week that he will be making the defensive play calls in his first season as head coach in LA. Hill will be replacing Gus Bradley, who left to become the defensive coordinator for the Las Vegas Raiders. Hill will help oversee a defense that ranked 10th in the NFL last year and features three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa, rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. and standout safety Derwin James, who missed all of 2020 with a knee injury.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson could sign an extension this offseason, according to general manager Eric DeCosta, who will begin talks with Jackson in 10 days.
Fantasy Spin: Jackson ended up the QB10 in traditional leagues as he missed a game due to COVID-19. With the emergence of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and others, the position has become pretty loaded. Dak Prescott (leg) is expected back to join the flux of QB1s. A midrange QB1 is probably where Jackson is supposed to be considering the plights he faces through the air. Don't overdraft him for the rushing numbers next season because the gap has narrowed.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen completed 28 of his 48 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and rushed seven times for 88 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 24. RB Devin Singletary was bottled up, rushing for 17 yards and six carries and gaining nine yards on two catches. WR Cole Beasley had seven grabs for 88 yards, WR Stefon Diggs had six receptions on 11 targets for 77 yards, and TE Dawson Knox caught six balls for 42 yards and a touchdown. WR Isaiah McKenzie caught a six-yard touchdown pass on his only reception, and RB T.J. Yeldon had seven touches for 56 total yards. S Jordan Poyer led the defense with eight tackles, including six solo stops.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill put together another strong performance on Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hill caught nine of his 11 targets for a team high 172 yards against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hill wasn't able to get a touchdown in this contest, but he was dominant nonetheless. Hill has had a phenomenal season and he will look to keep that going versus a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense in Super Bowl 55. He remains one of the best at his position and will be a top option for those participating in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes completed 29 of his 38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 24. WR Tyreek Hill had nine catches for 172 yards, and TE Travis Kelce had 13 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns. WR Mecole Hardman had two catches for four yards and a score to go along with a 50-yard run and a lost fumble on special teams. RB Darrel Williams rushed 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown and added one catch for nine yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had six carries for seven yards and a score. LB Frank Clark recorded a pair of sacks, and S Juan Thornhill broke up four passes.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored a touchdown in his return to action versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. The rookie player a minor role on Sunday with Darrel Williams being the featured back and Le'Veon Bell (knee) inactive. CEH picked up just seven yards on six carries and caught one of his two targets for zero yards, but it was good to see him return to action for the first time since injuring his ankle and hip in Week 15. Edwards-Helaire will now have two weeks to rest up before facing a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense in the Super Bowl and he should be avoided in DFS for that contest.
Kansas City Chiefs running Darrel Williams rushed the ball 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Williams has performed well with Clyde Edwards-Helaire sidelined, but the rookie returned on Sunday and figures to play a bigger role in the future. Williams will also have to compete with Le'Veon Bell (knee) who was inactive on Sunday and could return for the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are a pass heavy team and will face a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense Super Bowl 55. That will make Williams a risky option in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped lead his two to their second consecutive Super Bowl with a victory against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Mahomes was his usual self and completed 29 of his 38 pass attempts for 325 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed the ball five times for five yards. Mahomes is now the only player in NFL history to reach three straight championship games before the age of 26 and will now go to his second straight Super Bowl. Mahomes is putting up legendary numbers in his young career and he will square off against Tom Brady and a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense for the chance to win his second Super Bowl ring in two weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end had a monster night versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Kelce has been setting all kinds of records this season and he has now jumped Rob Gronkowski for the most receiving yards in a season that includes the postseason for a tight end. Kelce had 13 catches on 15 targets for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kelce remains the top option with wide receiver Tyreek Hill for the Chiefs and he should be expected to play a big role in the Super Bowl versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kelce remains the top tight end option in the league and he will be one of the safer options in DFS.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman had himself a day versus the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. Hardman had a rough start to the contest by dropping a punt that would lead to a Bills touchdown, but salvaged his day by catching two of his three targets for a 3-Yard touchdown and four total yards on the evening. He also picked up 50 yards on his lone carry. Hardman is an exciting player, but remains a shaky play for managers with the Chiefs having so many options on offense. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) also sat out this contest and his return would factor into Hardman's snap count. Hardman is always capable of breaking a big play and he will look to do that versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl 55.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce went over 100 receiving yards in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills. He became the first tight end in NFL history with five postseason games of 100 or more receiving yards.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense played another strong game in a 31-26 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. Tampa Bay sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, forcing one interception and a fumble in the huge win. The Buccaneers' pass rush was fueled by two players- linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who had three sacks and four quarterback hits, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had two sacks. Rising star Devin White led the team in tackles with 15, as he was a thorn in the side of the Packers' offensive plans all game long. Tampa Bay's defense will have its hands full in the Super Bowl against either Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, though this unit is playing some excellent football at the right time.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski caught just one pass for 29 yards in his team's 31-26 win over the Packers. Gronkowski went catch-less through three quarters before picking up 29 yards on a screen pass in the fourth quarter, setting up Tampa Bay for a field goal. The former Patriot has nearly been an every-down player for the Buccaneers in the playoffs but has done little as a pass-catcher, as he's taken a backseat to fellow tight end Cameron Brate. No stranger to the big game, Gronkowski will get a chance to redeem himself in the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate played a key role in another playoff victory for his team. Brate produced just 19 total yards, though he caught a third-quarter touchdown that helped extend the Buccaneers' lead to 28-10. The Harvard product exceeded 50 yards just once in the regular season but has accomplished the feat twice in Tampa Bay's three playoff wins. Tom Brady clearly has a trust for Brate as a pass-catcher, something that appears likely to continue as Tampa Bay prepares to be the first team to host and play in the Super Bowl.