As Associated Press sports writer Dave Skretta suggested this week, it would be an understatement to say that Tyreek Hill
has had an eventful year, one marked by the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
It began with Hill wrapping up a record-setting season by helping the Chiefs to the AFC title game, a year of performances that earned him a Pro Bowl trip and an All-Pro nod. It then spiraled downhill when Hill was accused by his ex-fiance of a domestic violence incident involving their young son.
He was suspended and became a pariah. He was absolved and returned with fanfare.
Then, Hill welcomed the start of the season by signing a $54 million, three-year contract extension, only to break his collarbone in the opener against Jacksonville. He returned for a solid stretch of games but hurt his hamstring against the Chargers a couple of weeks ago in Mexico.
Up and down. Down and up.
“For me, I know he is someone I wouldn’t want anyone else for,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes
said. “He’s able to have that explosiveness, he’s able to have that speed, but he’s able to run routes and high-point stuff and really do stuff I’ve never seen anyone else be able to do. I think that is just a testament to his work ethic and a testament to the way he prepares his body and prepares himself.”
In his first game back from the collarbone injury, Hill caught five passes for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Houston. He had a TD catch against Denver, grabbed six passes for 140 yards and a score against Minnesota and had his best game of the season in Mexico City.
Hill pulled in 11 passes for 157 yards and a score in the Chiefs’ 24-17 victory over the Chargers.
“Man, he’s a unique guy. There’s not many guys like him,” said backup quarterback Matt Moore
, who learned just how valuable Hill can be when Mahomes was sidelined by a knee injury. “I’ve played with some good ones, but he’s different. To have him and know he can track down any ball and use his speed and talents to get open the way he does, it’s a nice feeling knowing you have him out there.”
For the Chiefs. It’s a downright queasy feeling for opponents.
That feeling doesn’t just reside on offense, either.
The Chiefs limit the amount they use Hill on special teams in part to keep him fresh, but they trotted him out to return a pair of crucial punts late in their game against Minnesota. His mere presence led to a couple of altered kicks that gave the Chiefs some much-needed field position ahead of Harrison Butker
’s game-winning field goal.
The only thing that seems to slow Hill down are the injuries.
He hobbled off the field in Azteca Stadium before he could do much against the Chargers, and while Andy Reid said Hill lobbied to return, the Chiefs’ coach played it safe. The Chiefs had a bye week ahead of them, and there was no use in rushing him back to the field with more important games to come.
Ones like this tomorrow's against the Raiders.
Meanwhile, after accounting for 52 touchdowns in 16 regular-season games during his MVP 2018 season, Patrick Mahomes
has scored 19 touchdowns in nine games (or 18 in eight full games) this season.
As ESPN's Mike Clay noted, Mahomes' full-game pace puts him in line for 30.25 total touchdowns in 14 games, assuming he plays the Chiefs' final five games in full.
Mahomes is still playing at a very high level, but he is yet another example of an elite player being unable to sustain Hall of Fame level numbers over a large sample. Mahomes has finished four weeks as a top-five fantasy quarterback but also finished 11th or lower during his other four outings.
Despite the dip in production and inconsistent fantasy output, Mahomes remains a weekly must start.
Heading into tomorrow's game, ESPN's Al Zeidenfeld advised readers the Raiders have issues stopping anything the Chiefs' offense brings to the table.
The Raiders are allowing opponents to complete 67.3 percent of their red-zone passes, second-highest rate in the league
. They're allowing a touchdown on 7 percent of passes, also the second-highest rate in the league. None of that adds up to a predictability of any success against one of the most efficient offenses of all time.
In particular, Zeidenfeld reminded readers we've been talking for weeks about how Travis Kelce
just can't keep getting as much red-zone usage as he's gotten and continue to not score touchdowns.
Enter the Raiders and their second-worst-in-the-league red-zone defense to help us out.
Kelce has 16 red zone targets this season, as many as the next two players on the team combined, but has caught only 31.25 percent of them while all other Chiefs have caught 64.7 percent.
"The matchup is great, the volume is consistent, and the upside here with Kelce is just massive," Zeidenfeld added.