Kansas City Chiefs on Super Bowl course while COVID-19 causes rescheduling of 10-0 Steelers

Sports

Kansas City Chiefs on Super Bowl course while COVID-19 causes rescheduling of 10-0 Steelers

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, December 04, 2020

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Week 12 of the National Football League (NFL) regular season started on Thanksgiving Day impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic and ended in the same manner. The late game last week Thursday between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens was postponed until this week after members of the Baltimore team tested positive for the virus.

As many as 12 players, including quarterback (QB) and reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) Lamar Jackson, were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and therefore missed the rescheduled game.

This was the second major scheduling challenge for the league following the week 5 outbreak in the Tennessee Titans' camp, which also impacted the Steelers who had to forego their week 8 bye due to the deferment. Additionally, the Ravens were scheduled to play the Dallas Cowboys last night, but that game is now slated for December 7 (or later).

Yet in-between the rescheduling conundrum was gridiron action of the highest calibre.

The Washington Football Team mowed over division rivals the Dallas Cowboys 41-16 last week Thursday afternoon in a one-sided but entertaining game while the Houston Texans overperformed against the Detroit Lions for a 41-25 win earlier the same day. That result led to the firing of Lions' General Manager Bob Quinn and Head Coach Matt Patricia two days later.

Except for the Atlanta Falcons destroying the Las Vegas Raiders 43-6 on Sunday afternoon, the other games were pretty much par for the course and served as excellent precursors for the feature games.

The expected gunfight between QBs Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Kansas City Chiefs matchup didn't disappoint while the oldest rivalry in the NFL between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears was action-packed.

The Chiefs jumped out to an early 17-0 first-quarter lead and it appeared the game was heading for a blowout. Both QBs gave it their all: Mahomes 462 yards with 3 touchdowns and Brady had 345 yards with 2 touchdowns, but the career-best performance of Chiefs' wide receiver Tyreek Hill was the difference-maker.

Hill had 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone and cruised to 269 total yards with three touchdowns in his torching performance.

The past few weeks haven't been very pleasant for the Buccaneers and, though they started the season looking like a top-10 team (especially defensively), they can't expect but to surrender 200 yards to a single receiver in a single quarter and come out on the better side of a 24-27 defeat.

Tampa Bay will be relishing their bye this weekend while the Chiefs (10-1) will welcome the Denver Broncos (4-7) into Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

The Broncos were horrendous in their 31-3 defeat to the New Orleans Saint last weekend, but it was due (mainly) to all their four, full-time QBs being ineligible because of novel coronavirus contact-tracing — practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton had to play the position.

Hinton didn't complete a pass in the first half and ended the game with more interceptions than completions — One completion, two interceptions. However, even with the potential return of 'full-time' QBs this weekend, the Broncos are JustBet 14-point outsiders entering the contest and are not expected to be much of an obstacle for the Chiefs.

The Bears turned back to QB Mitchell Trubisky (due mainly to the injury of Nick Foles) for this encounter and were quickly reminded of why he got benched in the first place. Chicago had famously passed over Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes to draft Trubisky in 2017, hoping that he would be the answer to their QB-dreams, but he has become just another nightmare in their ongoing saga.

Trubisky tossed for 242 yards with three touchdowns but had two costly interceptions that ensured he was the second-best QB on the field Sunday night. Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers, who was not sacked or even touched all night, was at his masterful best and his four-touchdown performance was instrumental in the 41-25 victory — increasing the downhill slide of the Bears to five-straight games.

The Bears (5-6) will entertain the Lions (4-7) on Sunday and Trubisky should find the going a bit easier in this one. Chicago narrowly defeated Detroit 27-23 in week 1 en route to a 5-1 start but have lost five-straight games since then. The Lions have lost 4 of their last 5, only beating Washington during that period. Look for Chicago to register a win this weekend.

In the same breath, Packers (8-3) are in impressive form and, even in their losses (except for week 5 against Tampa Bay), they have put on a good show. The Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) will visit Lambeau Field this Sunday as 7-point Justbet underdogs following their dismal showing in a 23-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.

The Packers and Eagles have met each other 44 times (including 3 postseason games), with the Eagles winning 17 games and the Packers winning 27. This season, the Eagles are struggling in the NFL's weakest division and Green Bay could lose on Sunday only if they try very hard to do so.

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