KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the AFC West title wrapped up in Week 16, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid now has a bit of a dilemma.
With the Chiefs’ 29-13 win against the Dolphins on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs will host a wild-card game Jan. 6 or 7 after they close out the regular season this coming Sunday at Denver. The Broncos have been eliminated from the postseason for weeks, but the Chiefs (9-6) will not have the luxury of having a week off to rest up and prepare for the playoffs — unless Reid chooses to sit his starters against the Broncos.
Should he choose to do that, rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes would likely make his NFL debut with Alex Smith possibly getting the day off. Reid, however, hasn’t yet made that decision.
“I’ll go through all that as we go,” Reid said. “I haven’t made any commitments either way.”
Reid has in the past chosen to rest at least a few of his starters in Week 17. In 2013, the Chiefs were in a similar situation when they went to San Diego and backup Chase Daniel started in place of Smith.
One obvious difference, however, is that Daniel was in his fourth year in the league while Mahomes has yet to play a snap during the regular season. The Chiefs selected Mahomes with the 10th pick in this year’s draft and after a strong preseason he was named Smith’s backup after beginning camp third on the depth chart.
Though he has yet to play a down during the regular season, Mahomes has still found a way to give fans reasons to keep an eye on him as he has routinely thrown 50-yard passes during pregame warmups.
Still, there is no substitute for game experience, which Smith has plenty and Mahomes has none.
“I think on the mental side, he’s obviously watching and mentally observing and things like that,” said Smith, who has thrown for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns with only five picks this season. “But throughout the week, limited reps. He’s running the look team and obviously then trying to prepare as much as he can to try to get ready.
“So he hasn’t been in live bullets since camp. I mean those practices aren’t like that. So in that sense it’s been a while. But I’ve said this all along, he’s a pretty natural player. If he has to, he’ll bounce back quick.”
LINE OF DEFENSE — The Chiefs defense didn’t yield a point to the Dolphins in the second half on Sunday. The Chiefs also didn’t allow the Dolphins to convert a first down, holding Miami to 0 for 8 during the game.
ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOK — Rookie kicker Harrison Butker made 5 of 6 field goals against Miami and now holds the team record for most field goals made in a season with 36. Nick Lowery held the old mark of 34 field goals made in 1990.