Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will play on Sunday, that much is clear. But just how much is he hampered by his injured ankle?
The Chiefs feel disrespected by the Cincinnati Bengals, which referred to Kansas City’s home field as “Burrowhead” due to Joe Burrow’s success there in his young career. For a team that thrives on bulletin board material, the Bengals supplied the Chiefs with more than enough.
KC can thank Eli Apple for that, as well as Joe Mixon and several of his teammates. But their main concern heading into Sunday’s contest is not what the Bengals are saying, but the status of Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes injured his ankle against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round. While a high ankle sprain would keep most players out of the lineup in the regular season, the AFC Championship is a different story. There was no keeping a player like Mahomes away from his team this week.
Is Patrick Mahomes playing today?
“He looks good. He’s moving around good,” Andy Reid said in his Friday press conference. “He’ll go out and play.”
As encouraging as that update was, it doesn’t refer to whether Mahomes will be limited by his injury. Team doctors have been watching Mahomes closely, and will surely give him some form of a painkiller prior to kickoff.
The biggest concern (other than Mahomes health) is his lack of mobility. As capable as the Chiefs offensive line is, the Bengals pass rush is a creative one. They tend to disguise secondary blitz packages, with Mike Hilton playing a vital role. Without the ability to escape the pocket, Mahomes could be a sitting duck. Hopefully, Reid and Eric Bieniemy took that into account with the offensive game plan.
Mahomes is surrounded by safe outlets, like Travis Kelce, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jerick McKinnon. Isiah Pacheco is one of the better young running backs in football, if Kansas City chooses to use him.
Despite his injury status, this is a winnable game for Mahomes and the Chiefs.