Patrick Mahomes has been the heart of the Chiefs the last three seasons. He has led his team to three straight playoffs and gave them their second Super Bowl title, their first in nearly 50 years. Over the summer Mahomes was given a massive 10-year, $503 million contract, which proves that Andy Reid, Brett Veach and the Hunt family have faith that Mahomes will be their franchise quarterback for several years.
During the divisional game against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, Mahomes was hit hard by Browns linebacker Mack Wilson that sent Mahomes instantly to the locker room for evaluations. He was ruled out of the game with a concussion and backup quarterback Chad Henne took over to help seal the win for the Chiefs.
Mahomes was placed on concussion protocol on Sunday and will be re-evaluated each day, putting his status for the AFC Championship game questionable. According to the Bleacher Report, Mahomes will practice with the team this week and the team is very optimistic that he will play on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
The team reported that Mahomes is doing very well, but will take his condition day by day. Andy Reid told reporters on Monday that they will continue to follow concussion protocol and not rush his recovery from the head injury.
“We’ll just follow that and see how he does here in the next couple days,” Reid said to CBS Sports. “Because of the protocol it’s a no brainer from the coach’s standpoint. You don’t have to think about it.”
After Mahomes came out of the game, the Chiefs got into some major trouble. Henne threw a perfect interception pass to safety Karl Josephs to give the Chiefs the ball with eight minutes left of the game only up by five points. The Chiefs defense came in huge to disallow the Browns to make it further up the field and force a punt with less than four minutes left in the game.
All the Chiefs needed was to complete a first down to end the game, and Henne came in the clutch with his 13-yard run to put the Chiefs just one yard short of the first down. A simple pass to wide receiver Tyreek Hill ended the game as the Chiefs took the victory over the Browns. Henne showed his speed and willingness to sacrifice his body on the field, just like Mahomes. However, the interception pass thrown in the crucial minutes of the fourth down could have caused the Chiefs the game.
The current Buffalo Bills look a whole lot different than the Bills team that played against the Chiefs back in Week 6. Since losing to the Chiefs, the Bills went on to win nine of their last 10 games and are currently on an eight game winning streak. Within that winning streak, the Bills’ defense has done a great job, only allowing an average of 19.5 points per game. The biggest test for the Chiefs is seeing if they penetrate through the Bills defense in the event Mahomes is ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce have been the key factors for the Chiefs offensive success this season. Both were selected to the pro-bowl and combined they have a total of 26 touchdown catches with 2,692 yards gained. It is a matter of how they can adjust playing with Henne that can be the game changer. Mahomes has excellent chemistry with Hill and Kelce that has made them one of the best offenses in the league. It will be a difficult test for Henne to fill the shoes of a Super Bowl MVP quarterback with a half a billion dollar contract.
Henne said after the game last Sunday how his teammates made it easy for him to step in late in the game, “Hey, you guys make it easy on somebody like me stepping in,” said to his teammates after the game according to Sports Illustrated. “You make my job easy and welcoming with the confidence that you show me when I have the chance to come in and play. And I appreciate that.”
Nothing is set in stone if Mahomes will play on Sunday or not. If Mahomes does not get cleared to play on Sunday, it will be up to Henne to step up and lead the team to the Super Bowl. It can be very possible for a backup quarterback to fill the shoes of a star quarterback. Back in 2017 when Carson Wentz went down near the end of the season with a torn ACL, backup quarterback Nick Foles stepped up and led the Eagles to three playoff wins and defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Updates on Mahomes conditions will be announced later in the week, but for now the Chiefs will have to prepare for the worst. They will welcome the Bills to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday evening for the AFC Championship game and for a spot in the Super Bowl against the winner of the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.