FILE PHOTO: NFL Football – Super Bowl LV – Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Kansas City Chiefs – Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida, U.S. – February 7, 2021 Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes in action REUTERS/Brian Snyder
The dust has barely settled from Super Bowl LV and all eyes have turned back to Patrick Mahomes.
Despite seeing his Kansas City Chiefs come up short in the big game last week, Mahomes has been installed as the early favorite to win NFL Most Valuable Player honors for the 2021 season.
Mahomes, who won the award in 2018, is listed at +500 by DraftKings.
Mahomes, 25, is expected to be motivated after throwing for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns during the regular season before enduring one of the worst games of his NFL career in last Sunday’s 31-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He completed 26 of 49 passes for 270 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in Super Bowl LV.
Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers resides at +800 to capture his fourth such award.
Rodgers received 44 votes to earn his third career MVP award (2011, 2014) on Feb. 6. Rodgers led the league with 48 touchdown passes, a 70.7 percent completion rate and a 121.5 rating.
Fellow quarterbacks Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills) and Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) are both listed at +1300 to win the 2021 NFL MVP.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is fifth on the list at +1500 following his trade from the Detroit Lions.
Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady of the Buccaneers sits at +1600 to win his fourth NFL MVP honor, while Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has the same odds to capture his second in three years.
The first non-quarterbacks on the list are Tennessee Titans bulldozer Derrick Henry and fellow running back Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers. Both are at +3300.

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The 2020 NFL season involved a few dominant individual performances. Barring a tie for this year’s MVP award, all but one of those will join the league’s collection of near-misses. Here is who this year’s “others receiving votes” contingent will join among the best NFL seasons of the MVP era (1957-present) that did not result in a trophy.


1 of 30
30. Roger Craig, 1985

David Madison/Getty Images

Marshall Faulk and Christian McCaffrey have joined Craig in the 1,000-1,000 club, but both did so in increasingly friendlier offensive eras. With Jerry Rice not making an immediate impression as a rookie, the 49ers leaned on their third-year fullback. Bill Walsh made Craig a rarely seen chess piece, and the former Nebraska hurdler delivered. Craig rushed for 1,050 yards but caught an NFL-most 92 passes to gain 1,016 through the air. He added a career-high 15 touchdowns. Marcus Allen earned MVP acclaim in this season, which is better known for the Bears and Ronnie Lott’s pinkie. But Craig’s versatility opus still stands out.


Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire

With Peyton Manning throwing him passes, Harrison never had a reasonable MVP path. But his age-30 season came closest. Although Harrison did not receive a vote, he was far and away the NFL’s best wideout that year and moved the position into new statistical terrain. Harrison set the NFL’s single-season receptions record in Week 15, and immediately threw the ball back to officials upon doing so, and shattered Herman Moore’s mark with 143 by year’s end. Hines Ward was a distant second with 112. Harrison’s 1,722 yards led the field by nearly 400 as well. This set the table for Manning’s run of MVPs. 


Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

While a “feat. Randy Moss” credit is necessary, Cunningham proved he could thrive as a pocket passer. The unretired quarterback experienced frequent criticism as a passer in Philadelphia, but at 35, he took advantage of the best weaponry array of his career. Terrell Davis’ 2,000-yard season clinched MVP honors, but Cunningham threw for 3,704 yards in 34 touchdown passes in 14 starts. The Vikings had gone 9-7 in 1997; with Cunningham (and Moss) in ’98: 15-1. Behind Cunningham, Minnesota broke a 15-year-old scoring record with 556 points.


Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This was not a good year to wage an MVP campaign, with Patrick Mahomes setting the league ablaze. But Donald coasted to Defensive Player of the Year acclaim, soaring to a 20.5-sack season. The Rams defensive tackle flourished under Wade Phillips, helping them to Super Bowl LIII. While their defense was not statistically great, Donald helped compensate — most notably in Los Angeles’ epic Monday-night win over Kansas City, when Donald stripped Mahomes twice. Donald seized the “best defender alive” belt during J.J. Watt’s previous injury hiatus and has not given it back.


Focus on Sport/Getty Images

From 1990-97, either Smith or Barry Sanders won the rushing title. Behind another dominant offensive line, Smith took his turn in 1995 and led Dallas to its third Super Bowl title in four years. Smith broke John Riggins’ 12-year-old record with 25 rushing touchdowns — 10 more than anyone else in 1995 — and led the league with 1,773 rushing yards. Four of Smith’s five O-linemen made the Pro Bowl, with Hall of Fame guard Larry Allen — not present on the previous two Cowboy Super Bowl teams — debuting as a full-time starter in ’95. Brett Favre’s first MVP season edged out Smith.


6 of 30
25. Rob Gronkowski, 2011

Jeff Fishbein/Icon Sportswire

Gronkowski began his long run as the NFL’s best tight end in his sophomore campaign. Despite being a second-round pick with an injury past, Gronk set the tight end receiving record (1,327 yards). That has been broken, but the ex-Patriot icon’s 17 touchdown catches remain the tight end standard. Gronkowski’s emergence helped the worst of Bill Belichick’s Patriots defenses (31st in yards) to Super Bowl XLVI and opened the door to another set of Tom Brady Super Bowl appearances (four pre-Gronk, six post). Brady finished with a career-high 5,325 yards in 2011. No tight end dominated more than Gronk during his Pats years.


7 of 30
24. Deacon Jones, 1967

Vic Stein/Getty Images

Although sacks were not official until 1982, pass rushers had field days dropping QBs in anonymity. Defenders could mug receivers, and O-linemen were heavily restricted in how they could block until the late 1970s. Jones also had his since-banned head-slap maneuver. That said, Jones was an all-time menace in his heyday. Accounts vary on his masterpiece season, but the Rams defensive end recorded between 21.5 and 26 sacks during a year in which Los Angeles went 11-1-2 to lead the NFL. This was Jones at his peak, at age 29, he teamed with fellow Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen to power a talented Rams team. 


8 of 30
23. Jim Brown, 1959

Malcolm W. Emmons/Sporting News via Getty Images

This list could devolve into “Best non-MVP Jim Brown seasons.” The Cleveland phenom was in the heart of an unparalleled prime in his third season. The result: a runaway rushing title. Only two running backs eclipsed 900 rushing yards in 1959. Brown came in at 1,329 — 293 ahead of second-place J.D. Smith of the 49ers — in the 12-game season. Cleveland had two Hall of Famers in its backfield that year, in Brown and Bobby Mitchell. They combined for over 2,000 yards. The 1957 and ’58 MVP, Brown scored 14 touchdowns but lost out to Johnny Unitas for the award.


9 of 30
22. Jamal Lewis, 2003

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No. 3 on the all-time single-season rushing list, Lewis lost out on MVP acclaim when Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared it. Lewis bizarrely ranked fourth, behind Brady as well, after carrying Baltimore’s offense to a 10-6 record and an AFC North title. The Ravens used a first-round pick on Kyle Boller and used him and journeyman Anthony Wright in Lewis’ fourth year. The Ravens ranked 32nd in passing yards but turned to their hardnosed back, who broke the single-game rushing record in Week 2 (295 yards) and finished with 2,066 to go with 14 TDs. This was Lewis’ only Pro Bowl or All-Pro season.


Monica Davey/Getty Images

Voyaging to back-to-back Super Bowl routs, the Cowboys were 3-0 against the 49ers from 1992-93. Each win came by double digits. With Sanders as a one-year hired gun, San Francisco beat Dallas twice en route to a Super Bowl blowout. The era’s premier cover man changed the course of modern NFL history, joining Steve Young and Co. in stopping a Cowboys three-peat. Despite signing in September and missing two games, Sanders intercepted six passes and took three back for TDs. The ex-Falcon and future Cowboy totaled 303 return yards and dueled with No. 1 wideouts, helping the 49ers go from 16th to sixth in scoring defense.


11 of 30
20. Ray Lewis, 2000

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Statistically, Lewis’ 2003 Defensive Player of the Year campaign was better. But the Ravens middle linebacker made a defining team defensive season possible. Wearing bigger shoulder pads and sporting a bulkier physique due to the era, Lewis was still a sideline-to-sideline demon who led Baltimore to a 12-4 record. Lewis’ 137 tackles (14 for loss) and two INTs were not career-highs, but the Ravens held the opposition to 10.3 points per game — the lowest in the 16-game era’s 43 years — and won two games in which its offense failed to score a touchdown. The Super Bowl champs do not hit these heights without their 25-year-old leader.


MSA/Icon Sportswire

Johnson did not receive an MVP vote, with Adrian Peterson edging Peyton Manning during a season that featured a 4-12 Lions team, but he left no doubt as to the NFL’s wideout of the moment. Megatron broke Jerry Rice’s 17-year-old record with a 1,964-yard season. Only one receiver, Andre Johnson, came within 400 yards of the 6-foot-5 marvel in 2012. While today’s wideouts have easier paths to production, and the Lions phenom only scored five TDs, Megatron dropped both of his 200-yard games on playoff opposition and broke Rice’s record in an 11-catch, 225-yard Week 16 day against a Falcons team on its way to the NFC’s No. 1 seed.


13 of 30
18. Randall Cunningham, 1990

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Cunningham ran into perhaps the toughest MVP luck of anyone, finishing second in the AP balloting four times. Joe Montana won in 1990, but Cunningham received 18 votes (to the 49ers QB’s 26) and had a clear case. The Eagles QB dropped an ahead-of-its-time 3,466-942 passing-rushing double that featured 30 TD passes and five more rushing scores. Cunningham’s 30 touchdown passes —  highlighted by this one — ranked second to Warren Moon, and in a season in which the Eagles defense ranked only 12th, their quarterback powered the team to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth out of an all-time great division. 


Rich Kane/Icon Sportswire

Reed’s “best safety ever” claim began in his third season. The Ravens were still trying Kyle Boller at quarterback and ranked 31st in total offense. They still went 9-7, behind the league’s No. 6-ranked defense. Reed was at the epicenter of this effort, intercepting nine passes and returning them for a then-record 358 yards. Reed thwarted a Browns game-tying touchdown attempt with a 106-yard pick-six; he broke this NFL record four years later. Overall in 2004, the ex-Miami Hurricane totaled 12 forced turnovers for 402 yards and two TDs. It is hard for a modern safety to be more productive.


15 of 30
16. Barry Sanders, 1994

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The Lions went from starting three QBs in 1993 to turning to Scott Mitchell and a 36-year-old Dave Krieg in 1994. Fortunately, they had the era’s best running back. Sanders broke through to power the Lions back to the playoffs, rushing for 1,883 yards on 5.7 per carry. Detroit ranked 24th in passing yards in a 28-team league. Sanders’ masterpiece came in Week 3 when the Lions beat the defending champion Cowboys after their running back’s 40-carry, 194-yard night. This was the second of Sanders’ four rushing titles; he led the league by more than 300 yards.


16 of 30
15. J.J. Watt, 2014

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This Watt version became the only defender to receive more than one MVP vote since James Harrison in 2008. Watt garnered 13 — the most any defensive player has since Lawrence Taylor won the award in 1986. Watt recorded 20.5 sacks, a career-high 51 QB hits and 29 tackles for loss (tied, with 2015 Watt, for second in the TFL era). His MVP push centered on touchdowns. The fourth-year Texan scored five — on a pick-six, a fumble-six and, in a one-year-only role, three as a tight end. Illustrating defenders’ MVP futility, this perfect storm could not top Aaron Rodgers’ third-best season. 


17 of 30
14. Jerry Rice, 1995

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In a year that featured passing numbers balloon leaguewide, the 49ers played five games without Steve Young. At 33, Rice confirmed his prime was not finished. In the middle of an unapproached span of 10 first-team All-Pro nods in 11 years, Rice broke the single-season receiving record with 1,848 yards. In the five-game stretch with second-year backup Elvis Grbac, Rice posted four 100-yard games — including a 161-yard performance in a 49ers upset win in Dallas. The all-time receiving kingpin punctuated his season with a 289-yard showing on a December Monday night against the Vikings.


18 of 30
13. Lester Hayes, 1980

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In the third year of the NFL’s shift toward a pass-focused product, Hayes dropped a throwback season that made a major difference in a Super Bowl push. During eight of his 10 seasons, the Raiders cornerback did not surpass four interceptions. “The Judge” snared 13 INTs in his fourth season and posted 273 return yards. Hayes had four more called back due to penalty and later managed five playoff picks. Yes, the since-banned Stickum was heavily involved. But Hayes did not stack these picks against bad QBs; he intercepted a pass in 12 games. In the 40 seasons since, only one player — the Cowboys’ Everson Walls — has even reached 11 INTs.


Tony Medina/Icon Sportswire

Venturing into Sanders territory and doing so in a pass-crazed era, Johnson set the NFL record for scrimmage yards with 2,509 in his second season. “CK2K” spawned because of this season, and although the Titans’ 8-8 record (after an 0-6 start) kept Johnson off the MVP radar, it remains an all-time great slate in rushing annals. After being held under 100 yards in four of his first five games, Johnson finished with 11 straight three-digit outings. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and accomplished all this against teams geared toward stopping him and not Vince Young.


20 of 30
11. Charley Hennigan, 1961

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So obscure that photos have proven elusive, Hennigan was the 1961 AFL champion Oilers’ top yard-gainer. But the wide receiver’s total resided in another stratosphere compared to peers. In a 14-game season, Hennigan posted 1,746 yards. Even in what became a pass-friendly AFL, that total bested all other receivers by nearly 600. The 6-foot-1 ex-high school biology teacher’s 82 catches did not lead the league, and Bill Groman’s 17 TD grabs paced the Oilers. Hennigan, however, averaged 21.3 yards per catch and had three 200-yard games in teaming with George Blanda. Hennigan’s single-season record stood for 34 years.


21 of 30
10. J.J. Watt, 2012

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Watt is far from the best player on this list, but it is impossible to exclude his second season. The Texans defensive end delivered one of modern sports’ signature breakouts, running up a mind-boggling combination of numbers. Watt’s 20.5 sacks led the league, but his peripheral stats are more impressive. The interior pass rusher recorded 39 tackles for loss. For perspective, no one else since TFLs became charted (in 1999) has surpassed 30. No non-Watt season has ever topped 28. The 23-year-old sensation also forced four fumbles and tallied 16 passes defensed — seven more than any other D-lineman that year — in the Texans’ 12-4 season.


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9. Earl Campbell, 1980

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Winding down their “Luv Ya Blue” run, the Oilers traded Dan Pastorini for Ken Stabler in 1980. The future Hall of Famer threw 13 TD passes and 28 INTs. The Oilers still went 11-5 and won the AFC Central for the first time. This happened because Campbell was unstoppable in his third season. Browns QB Brian Sipe won MVP honors, but this was Campbell’s defining season. He amassed career highs in rushing yards (1,934) and yards per carry (5.2) and dominated despite presenting nary a receiving threat (47 yards). Campbell’s career steadily declined after this, but his ’80 season is a time-capsule rushing year.


Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

The heart of Brees’ Saints dominance saw Dan Marino’s 27-year-old single-season yardage record fall and the New Orleans QB lead the NFL in touchdown passes (46) and completion percentage (a then-record 71.2 figure). But Aaron Rodgers garnered 48 of the 50 MVP votes while leading a 15-1 Packers team. Helping Jimmy Graham become an all-time fantasy sleeper, Brees threw for 5,476 yards to lead a 13-3 Saints team. The future career pass yardage kingpin threw at least one touchdown pass in every game, on his way to breaking Johnny Unitas’ record for consecutive games with a TD toss in 2012. That currently stands at 54. 


24 of 30
7. Randy Moss, 2007

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The season that lifted Tom Brady onto the elite quarterback tier can be traced to the Patriots swindling the Raiders for Moss . Bill Belichick giving up a fourth-round pick for the 30-year-old superstar transformed the Patriots, and though Brady was the unanimous MVP, Moss kind of deserved co-MVP acclaim. Moss caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards and an NFL-record 23 touchdowns. Just as he catalyzed the 1998 Vikings, Moss lifted the Pats to the NFL’s lone 16-0 season. Brady’s TD number ballooned from 24 in a non-Pro Bowl 2006 season to 50. That record has fallen; no one has approached Moss’ TD standard.


25 of 30
6. Jerry Rice, 1987

John McDonough/Icon Sportswire

Fantasy players in the discipline’s infancy cleaned up if they drafted Rice in his third season. It is both a dominant display indicative of the wideout deity’s future while simultaneously a tantalizing “what if?” year. Due to a players’ strike, Rice played 12 games. He caught 22 touchdown passes. Only one other player topped eight  that year. Rice also added a rushing score, and his 1,078 yards would have led the league had Cardinals wideout J.T. Smith not crossed the picket line. The 49ers went 13-2, and Rice and Joe Montana split MVP votes in a year when John Elway won. It took Moss all 16 games to break Rice’s record.


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5. Marshall Faulk, 1999

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In a three-year stretch when the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” claimed three MVP awards, Faulk scored 26 touchdowns to win the award in 2000. His Rams debut may have been better. Acquired from the Colts that spring, Faulk became the second player in NFL history to go 1,000-1,000. Kurt Warner won the 1999 MVP, but Faulk was the biggest difference between a bad 1998 Rams team and its Super Bowl champion outfit. The explosive back reached 2,429 scrimmage yards — still second-most all time — and averaged 5.5 per carry in his age-26 season, one that drove St. Louis to a championship. 


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4. Reggie White, 1987

George Gojkovich/Getty Images

In addition to Rice’s unfathomable TD edge on his peers, 1987 featured a fellow all-time great lap his contemporaries in sacks. Like Rice, White played 12 games because of the strike. He registered a career-high 21 sacks — 8.5 more than anyone else. While the historically gifted power rusher was a star from the jump after two USFL seasons, White’s monster third NFL slate did not come from big games. He notched a sack in 11 games and got to 21 without a four-sack showing. White’s consistency would remain until the late 1990s. The record Michael Strahan owns would be buried had the NFL’s regulars played 16 games in 1987.


28 of 30
3. Eric Dickerson, 1984

David Madison/Getty Images

During their lengthy period without a reliable quarterback, the Rams landed an offensive centerpiece in the 1983 first round. A year later, Dickerson set the NFL rushing record. After totaling 390 carries as a rookie, Dickerson logged 379 and turned those into 2,105 yards — a number that has topped info graphics for a generation. He rushed for 14 TDs, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, and was so effective the Rams barely threw to him (139 yards). The Rams made the playoffs with career backup Jeff Kemp as their primary starting quarterback, ranking 27th in passing and winning 10 games. Dan Marino cruised to MVP honors in ’84.


29 of 30
2. O.J. Simpson, 1975

George Rizer/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Simpson’s prime goes understandably overlooked now, but in addition to his 1973 2,000-yard MVP season, the Bills running back was perhaps even better two years later. At 28, Simpson led the NFL in rushing for the third time in four years. He got to 1,817 yards on 5.5 per carry but far exceeded his ’73 work in other areas. After a 12-TD 1973, Simpson scored 23 times in ’75 and eclipsed his scrimmage-yards total as well by reaching 2,243 — easily the best mark in the NFL’s 14-game era. Buffalo went 8-6 and missed the playoffs, further obscuring this transcendent season. 


30 of 30
1. Jim Brown, 1963

Focus on Sport via Getty Images

Y.A. Tittle’s 36 touchdown passes earned him MVP honors; the Giants finished 11-3 to the Browns’ 10-4. But there is no satisfactory explanation for the most dominant player in NFL history’s best season receiving seven votes to Tittle’s 33. Brown’s 1,863 rushing yards broke his own NFL record by 336. He averaged 6.4 per carry and a career-best 133 per game and totaled 15 TDs. A better illustration of the gap between Cleveland’s fullback terminator and the other men paid to take handoffs: Jim Taylor — the 1962 MVP — ranked second with 1,018 yards. Respected as he is, Brown is underrated. His three MVPs are not enough.


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With the Super Bowl over, it’s time to begin arguing about this year’s Madden cover.Historically, the franchise selects an exciting, typically young offensive player, with a clean reputation, to front its annual release. (Antonio Brown’s Madden 19 feature came before all that, so don’t count on a Tyreek Hill cover.)Defensive players appear much less often, with Richard Sherman on Madden 15, Troy Polamalu on (half) of Madden 10, Ray Lewis on Madden 05. With only two and a half covers in total, defenders are clearly few and far between, and there is no obvious defensive choice for Madden 22 as there had been in Sherman’s year, or if, say, Darrelle Revis had been selected around 2010 or so. That said, with each passing year, Aaron Donald’s reputation as the arguable best ever grows. Donald won’t turn 30 until May and has already made a Pro Bowl in each of his seven NFL seasons. Despite being primarily a defensive tackle — who is regularly double-teamed — Donald has accumulated 85.5 sacks through his career, as well as 131 tackles for loss and 19 forced fumbles. Let’s make him a perennial honorable mention for a Madden cover until the day he retires, because he’s just that good.With that aside, let’s look at the frontrunners for Madden 22’s cover. .

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YOU try running with turf toe while being chased by large, violent men for three hours.Image: Getty ImagesStill want to remove Patrick Mahomes from your GOAT list? Consider the circumstances first.Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported today that Mahomes will have foot surgery tomorrow after playing with turf toe for weeks. On Sunday morning, Rapoport revealed that the quarterback was expected to have surgery after the Super Bowl. Now we know it will happen sooner rather than later.G/O Media may get a commissionMahomes first injured his toe in the divisional round matchup against the Cleveland Browns. In that same game, the 2018 MVP suffered a concussion and left the field in the third quarter.He was back the next week and looked great in the AFC Championship. Mahomes even said his toe was feeling a “lot better” going into Super Sunday. But you saw him in the game, right? Hobbling around in the second half and running away from defenders. Clearly, he was not 100 percent — and neither was his offensive line. And apparently, that’s enough for some pundits to declare Mahomes’ GOAT chase over at age 25. Um, I don’t think so and neither does Deadspin’s Donovan Dooley. Perhaps the most unbelievable stat from Sunday’s game is how Mahomes ran nearly 500 yards BEFORE passing or getting sacked. With a bad toe, might I add once more.He also ran for 33 yards forward on five carries. Fortunately, Mahomes and his toe should be able to make a full recovery after tomorrow’s surgery. He’ll be back for a revenge tour in 2021. Healthy, rested, and ready to prove the pundits wrong. .

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Patrick Mahomes will reportedly undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a torn plantar plate in his foot, as the issue more commonly known as “turf toe” had seemingly been bothering him for most of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run.
“The rehab will be several months, but he’s expected to make a full recovery,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted. “Noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson will perform the procedure.”
Mahomes’ lingering injury had been the subject of speculation for much of the postseason after suffering the injury during Kansas City’s win over the Cleveland Browns in the divisional round. The 25-year-old quarterback looked noticeably hobbled over the next two games, including the Chiefs blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that was arguably the worst game of Mahomes’ NFL career.

But Mahomes refused to use the turf toe as any sort of excuse for his play on the field, giving credit to the Bucs for beating Kansas City on every conceivable level.
“They beat us good,” Mahomes said. “The best I’ve been beaten in a long time.”
While the Chiefs are certainly facing some tough questions heading into next season, it is undoubtedly a relief that their quarterback is expected to make a full recovery in time. Even with Sunday’s loss, Mahomes is off to perhaps the most impressive start to a career in NFL history, having made the Super Bowl in two of his first three seasons as the starter for the Chiefs. And as long as he is healthy, there’s no reason to think Kansas City won’t be contending again next season.


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The way-too-early odds to win Super Bowl LVI

Another NFL season is in the books, and NFL bettors are already thinking about next year. The odds are likely to change with offseason NFL personnel moves, but here’s a way too early look at the odds to win Super Bowl LVI. Odds from BetOnline, as of February 6, 2021.


Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

The Chiefs have a lot of free-agent decisions to make with a roster that’s likely to change more than it did a year ago, but the core of the team remains with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and company. With the coaching staff remaining intact, the Chiefs remain the clear favorites for a second straight year.


Jeff Hanisch / USA Today Sports Images

Green Bay took a heartbreaking defeat in the NFC Championship, and have some key free-agent decisions to make like Corey Linsley and Kevin King. Still, the team is comfortable going into 2021 with Aaron Rodgers playing as well as ever. A new defensive coordinator could also have an impact, one way or another.


Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports Images

It was a surprise to some how quickly the Bucs came on with 43-year-old Tom Brady under center, but the team has a lot of key free agents to make with stars like Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, and Chris Godwin able to walk. There’s always the risk that Brady will fall off the proverbial age cliff, but somehow he’s fended off Father Time so far.


Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports Images

Lamar Jackson regressed following his 2019 MVP and the criticism that he can’t win the big game remains. His payday will come due for the Ravens very soon, and the team would do well to surround him with more weapons. The potential loss of pass rushers Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free agency is also a big concern.


Denny Medley / USA Today Sports Images

Buffalo got so close to the Super Bowl this past season that the Bills Mafia can taste it. Josh Allen came into his own in his third season and has an excellent core around him. It could be time for the defense to get younger, especially up front, and there are also some decisions to make on what has been a strong offensive line.


Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

The Rams wasted little time in planning for 2021, pulling off a blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford. Depth could become an issue with the organization continuing to disregard the top rounds of the draft, but there remains plenty of star power in LA. Stafford has a chance to have success with one of the most talented rosters he’s ever been on, filled with the star power of Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey. Head coach Sean McVay fell into a rut with Jared Goff at quarterback but now has to be licking his chops.


Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images

After advancing to the Super Bowl in 2019, the 49ers took a hard fell due to several major injuries. Head coach Kyle Shanahan still got the most out of his talent, and the core is set to return next season. There are still questions about whether Jimmy Garoppolo is the answer at quarterback, and veterans like Trent Williams and Richard Sherman could be lost in free agency.


Dale Zanine / USA Today Sports Images

With the retirement of Drew Brees, the Saints have some major questions heading into 2021. It’s assumed that Taysom Hill will be their new starter, though that’s not a foregone conclusion. The team could be set to move forward without the likes of Jared cook, Sheldon Rankins, Alex Anzalone, and Marcus Williams, as well, though Sean Payton has shown that he can overcome change.


Denny Medley / USA Today Sports Images

Cleveland won a playoff game and also gave the Chiefs a huge challenge in the Divisional Round, so Browns fans have to look at the progress this past season. They’re still waiting on Baker Mayfield to fulfill the hype as a former No. 1 overall pick, but the supporting cast remains outstanding with Odell Beckham likely to return. There are some nice complementary pieces headed toward free agency, but Kevin Stefanski’s team has a chance to take another step forward in 2021.


Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

After a great start, Seattle’s offense stagnated in the second half of 2020. As a result, the team moved on from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The Seahawks have a long list of unrestricted free agents this offseason but have shown relative consistency since Russell Wilson has come on board.


Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports Images

No team took a bigger step forward in 2000 than the Dolphins, though they still came up just short on a playoff spot. After Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie season, there are questions about him as the answer at quarterback, but the strong defense should give him some leeway next season.


Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports Images

The Colts had a strong rebound in 2020 with a great defense and better quarterback play with Philip Rivers. It’s completely unclear who will be the team’s signal-caller next season after Rivers’ retirement, and the team also has to decide what to do with free agents T.Y. Hilton and Justin Houston, among others. Indy’s Super Bowl odds could improve sharply if they find a proven veteran to help head coach Frank Reich and company.


Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports Images

The Chargers greatly underachieved over the last two seasons, and head coach Anthony Lynn finally took the fall. There’s optimism new head coach Brandon Staley can help the team improve, and Justin Herbert was spectacular under center in his rookie campaign. Unfortunately, the Chargers still have to contend with Patrick Mahomes in the AFC West, and they also have several major free-agent decisions to make, led by Melvin Ingram and Hunter Henry.


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While Tennessee returned to the playoffs, they were unable to improve upon their playoff success from last year. The loss of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith could really hurt, and it also remains to be seen how long Derrick Henry can keep up his current workload. Prominent free agents Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, and Desmond King bring some uncertainty to the offseason.


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Mike McCarthy’s first year at the helm couldn’t have gone much worse. Jerry Jones has decided to stick with him, and the big offseason task will be locking up Dak Prescott, who missed most of the year due to a nasty ankle injury. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will have a lot of pressure, but he’s playing with house money after the unit’s awful 2020 performance.


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The loss of Tom Brady overshadowed a series of opt-outs that hamstrung the Patriots in 2020. Bill Belichick has plenty of cap room to work with this offseason, but also a lot of holes to fill, including quarterback. With Belichick’s ability to work magic with personnel moves, it will be an intriguing offseason.


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The Steelers floundered in the second half of 2020, and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was one of the casualties. Ben Roethlisberger seems desperate to right the ship, but the team is in salary cap purgatory with multiple offensive linemen and JuJu Smith-Schuster likely to depart.


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After a disappointing 2020, head coach Mike Zimmer and quarterback Kirk Cousins could be headed toward a make-or-break season. The Vikings defense saw major regression, partially due to injuries. Still, the team could lose Eric Wilson and Anthony Harris in free agency and still need to address some offensive line issues.


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Matt Rhule had some ups and downs in his first year as head coach, but generally got positive reviews for his work on a rebuilding team. It remains to be seen if Teddy Bridgewater is the answer at quarterback, and the team has to do something about the pending free agency of Curtis Samuel and multiple starting offensive linemen. The return of Christian McCaffrey from injury, along with the wideout tandem of D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson should make things easier no matter who the quarterback is in 2021.


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Arizona fell short of the playoffs, and are looking at some huge potential losses in free agency, most notable Patrick Peterson, Haason Reddick, and Kenyan Drake. The team did make progress in the second season with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray, but anything short of a playoff berth in 2021 would be a huge letdown.


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After years of stagnating under Dan Quinn, the Falcons hope new head coach Arthur Smith can take the team to the next level. The team will try to right the ship with veterans Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but there could be big changes to the complementary pieces as the organization tries to get back on track.


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Head coach Matt Nagy did just enough to stick around, though it remains to be seen if Mitchell Trubisky did the same. The team has seemingly wasted a top defense over the last few seasons with the inconsistency of the offense, and the potential loss of free-agent wide receiver Allen Robinson could be a dagger. 


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For the second consecutive year, the Raiders looked like potential contenders early in the season only to collapse late. Derek Carr did show great improvement in his third season under Jon Gruden, though there have been rumors the team is looking to find something better at quarterback. The roster is lightyears ahead of where it was when Gruden came on board but still seems well behind the rival Chiefs in the AFC West.


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The Eagles could be headed toward a restart if they trade Carson Wentz after already firing head coach Doug Pederson. It’s incredible to think just how quickly things have gone downhill in Philly, and the hiring of new head coach Nick Sirianni didn’t exactly get rave reviews. It remains to be seen if Jalen Hurts is the future, but the teams seem likely to run with him in 2021.


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Denver has four straight losing seasons since Gary Kubiak’s departure, and desperately needed better decision making at the top. New GM George Paton has some big decisions to make, including quarterback, where Drew Lock has struggled in two seasons. The team could also lose free agent safety Justin Simmons, and Von Miller’s future is also in doubt. Regardless, head coach Vic Fangio probably won’t have much longer to fix things going into his third year.


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The terrible division aside, Washington’s playoff berth in 2020 was truly remarkable considering all the issues they had. Many of those same issues remain in 2021 with Washington’s future at quarterback unclear and several prominent free agents headed toward free agency. There’s still reason for optimism with Ron Rivera at the helm and a tremendous front seven on defense.


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Cincinnati didn’t make much progress in 2020, but they have to be optimistic about the play of Joe Burrow prior to his season-ending knee injury. The first order of business this offseason should be fixing the offensive line, and the team also has several holes on defense that need addressing.


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Daniel Jones didn’t make the progress that the Giants hoped in his sophomore season, though the loss of Saquon Barkley to injury didn’t help. Fans are optimistic about the fight that New York showed under head coach Joe Judge, but improving Jones’ supporting cast should be a big priority this offseason.


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The hiring of new head coach Robert Saleh got rave reviews, but he needs more talent to worth with. The team seems likely to move on from Sam Darnold at quarterback, but regardless of the quarterback in 2021, desperately need to improve the rest of the offensive roster. Saleh’s impact is expected to be felt immediately on defense, where the Jets made some inexcusable errors last season under Gregg Williams.


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Urban Meyer finally made the jump to the NFL, and it’s easy to see why with the draft capital and cap room that the Jaguars have this offseason. It would be an upset if the team didn’t draft Clemson star Trevor Lawerence first overall, but the roster is likely to be a work in progress next season.


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The previous Lions regime hasn’t left the team in a great place, though they did already make a big splash this offseason by trading Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff and a huge draft haul. The team could still lose their top three wideouts, led by Kenny Golladay, in free agency, and have a lot of overpaid defensive players who disappointed after joining Matt Patricia. Head coach Dan Campbell will need time.


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The Texans head coaching job seemed like a dead end this offseason with little cap room or draft picks, and star quarterback Deshaun Watson desperately wanting out of Houston. New head David Culley has paid his dues but will have almost no chance in 2021 if the team doesn’t keep Watson around.

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The biggest offseason priority for every NFL team

With Super Bowl LV behind us, every NFL team is now in offseason mode. Quarterback maneuvers are stealing headlines thus far, but several teams are set there and need to make key adjustments at other spots. Here is each team’s biggest offseason task.


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Patrick Peterson was not the same player over the past two seasons, following a six-game PED suspension. The All-Decade cornerback is a free agent; so is Dre Kirkpatrick. The Cardinals have needs at a few places — Chandler Jones edge-rushing sidekick, WR2, and on the offensive line — but they must field a new crew alongside Byron Murphy. The Cardinals hold pick No. 16, putting them in range to land Virginia Tech corner Caleb Farley. The ex-Hokies stopper opted out of last season to preserve his draft stock. However Arizona plays it, the team will need new blood even if it does not bring Peterson back for an 11th season.


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On one hand, Matt Ryan should have a few above-average seasons left. The Falcons could try one more reload around their 35-year-old veteran. On the other, Ryan has not made the Pro Bowl since his 2016 MVP season. The Falcons have not held a top-five pick since they drafted Ryan third overall in 2008. This is a prime opportunity to draft Ryan’s successor, and owner Arthur Blank put that prospect on the table recently. Depending on the Falcons’ fondness for BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, or Georgia native Justin Fields, a seminal decision awaits a franchise that just hired a new coach and GM.


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The Ravens have a few key issues. Interior offensive line and wide receiver will be addressed this offseason, but with Baltimore presenting a less-than-ideal situation for free agent wideouts, the franchise’s top priority should be determining a path at outside linebacker. The Ravens franchise-tagged Matt Judon last year and acquired franchise-tagged Yannick Ngakoue. Both are free agents, and Baltimore’s top D-line rushers — Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe — are over 30. The Ravens are not big on paying up for edge rushers, but Judon has proven himself worthy. And he will need a running mate, perhaps in the draft.


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A credit to the Brandon Beane-Sean McDermott regime, this roster does not feature many Defcon 1-level need areas. But the Bills took a step back in pass defense last season and have multiple aging defensive ends. This marks an interesting year to have a need for this expensive skill, with the salary cap set to plummet for just the second time ever. Bud Dupree is coming off an ACL injury but is only 27 and has delivered back-to-back strong seasons. Yannick Ngakoue and Carl Lawson are intriguing as well; so is the contract-year breakout, Trey Hendrickson. There will be options for the Super Bowl contender.


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If the Texans make Deshaun Watson available, this is an attractive destination. Matt Rhule is entering Year 2 of a seven-year contract and, at least in 2021, the Panthers employ fast-rising, OC Joe Brady. Carolina also has a host of young skill-position talent, in Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson. The Texans would not give the Panthers a major discount because they play in the NFC, but this is  an advantage against AFC competition (primarily the Jets and Dolphins). Teddy Bridgewater’s 2021 dead money will not be an issue for a Carolina team thinking long-term. Watson would solve the franchise’s biggest problem. 


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In need at many offensive positions but still possessing an upper-crust defense that is on the verge of the “aging” label, the Bears are desperate. What maybe needs to happen is a full-on rebuild, but ownership retained Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace — the latter the architect of the failed Mitchell Trubisky trade — so that will have to wait. The Bears are in the Carson Wentz mix, but they still need help up front and at wide receiver. Adding a franchise-QB salary to the mix will also make it more difficult for Chicago to franchise-tag Allen Robinson. But the Bears almost have to take a veteran QB swing, given their situation. 


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In not directing part of their rare free agency splurge toward protecting Joe Burrow, the Bengals made a considerable error last year. They paid for it, with Burrow not guaranteed to be ready by Week 1 after tearing multiple knee ligaments and suffering structural damage. Whenever Burrow returns, he will need multiple new starting O-linemen. Fortunately, the Bengals’ No. 5 overall pick will be within range of landing Oregon standout tackle Penei Sewell. The 2020 opt-out would fit as a right tackle immediately in Cincinnati opposite Jonah Williams. They would ideally join a free agent guard or center on an improved line.


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It is conceivable the Browns become the rare team to return its entire offensive starting lineup (feat. Kareem Hunt), with Odell Beckham Jr. due back (as of now) as well. Cleveland needs help on all three defensive levels, having squandered a golden opportunity in Kansas City. The Browns’ No. 25 defensive DVOA figure was the worst among this year’s playoff teams. Myles Garrett needs a new wingman, and the Ravens keeping both Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue is unrealistic. Ngakoue played in a 4-3 scheme in Jacksonville and thrived. He can both help Garrett and Cleveland’s secondary.


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Given the ignition of the quarterback trade market, it would seem the Cowboys could fetch somewhere between the Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford price tags for Dak Prescott. The 2020 NFC East was a reminder of the five-year veteran’s value, and the Cowboys have numerous veteran starters that match up with Prescott’s timeline. But this is now offseason No. 3 of Dak negotiations, and a monster $37 million franchise tag will hurt more once the pandemic-induced cap decrease occurs. With Watson’s 2020 extension raising QB prices further, the Cowboys face a decision: extend their QB now or trade him to avoid a Kirk Cousins-esque ending.


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With Stafford gone, Wentz likely headed elsewhere and new GM George Paton unlikely to part with the draft capital necessary to acquire Watson, the Broncos can use this offseason to better build their roster around Drew Lock and/or equip their to-be-determined 2022 starting QB with a strong base. The Broncos have seen each member of their Super Bowl-winning No Fly Zone secondary depart. If/once Denver makes A.J. Bouye a cap casualty, injury-prone Bryce Callahan is the team’s only proven corner. At pick No. 9, investing in Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley or Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II should be strongly considered.


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The Rams and Eagles gave up ransoms to trade into the Jared Goff and Carson Wentz draft slots in 2016. Moves for Patrick Mahomes or Watson in 2017 would not have cost as much. The Lions are not planning to contend in 2021, and they now have Goff as a placeholder. The extra first-round pick the Rams gave them to take Goff’s contract could be valuable if the Lions identify a high-ceiling non-Trevor Lawrence QB prospect this year. Picking at No. 7, Detroit could trade up. That would take the team out of a possible 2022 top-three overall passer pick. GM Brad Holmes will need to have a QB timeline ready by April.


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The Packers have not done enough to bolster their rosters during the Aaron Rodgers era, leading a three-time MVP to have one Super Bowl berth in 13 QB1 seasons. The least Green Bay brass could do now is keep some of its essential cogs. Aaron Jones and All-Pro center Corey Linsley are free agents; one can be tagged. With all O-linemen grouped together under the tag formula, Jones is Green Bay’s tag candidate. The Packers could use a veteran receiver, and there will be a few second-tier options in a buyer’s market. But the franchise must do all it can to maximize Rodgers now; keeping its two big-ticket free agents is a start.


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Unlike the trades involving Hall of Fame-bound QBs Steve Young or Brett Favre, the Texans have a proven NFL superstar in trade rumors. Watson’s situation is closer to Fran Tarkenton’s in 1967. While the Vikings did reacquire their standout QB years after trading him in his prime, the Texans must avoid dealing Watson. The franchise spent several years cycling through QBs a few tiers below Watson. If it means embattled owner Cal McNair firing bizarrely placed executive VP Jack Easterby and taking a background role himself, it needs to happen. If the Nick Caserio-led team cannot make this right, a rebuild will take a bit thanks to Bill O’Brien’s missteps.


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The Colts have one of the NFL’s best all-around rosters, but Philip Rivers’ retirement leaves a QB need for the third time in three years. With Andrew Luck out of the picture, this is the team best positioned to revive Wentz. Frank Reich had Wentz on an MVP pace before his 2017 injury, and the Colts have a top-tier offensive line and immense cap space. This move would not be without risk, but the Colts hold pick No. 21 and are unlikely to be picking high in 2022 due to their roster strength. While they must be careful not to overpay, the Colts make sense for Wentz. And his contract would become bearable once the Eagles trade it.


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This is discounting the Jaguars’ slam-dunk decision with the No. 1 overall pick (Trevor Lawrence), but the team has a ways to go in order to put the quarterback in a winning situation. Jacksonville is projected to hold the NFL’s most cap space, and after allowing a franchise-record 492 points, the team needs help at nearly every defensive position. Urban Meyer’s team should prioritize younger free agents. If the Buccaneers tag Chris Godwin, the Jags should go big for Shaq Barrett. This class should house other intriguing edges and possesses safety talent — Marcus Williams, John Johnson — as well. 


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While the two-time reigning AFC champions could use help at cornerback and linebacker, Super Bowl LV showed their top investment needs protecting. The Chiefs were without their top three O-linemen Sunday night in Tampa; Mahomes felt the effects. Eric Fisher is 30 and rehabbing a torn Achilles, stalwart right tackle Mitchell Schwartz will be 32 and missed most of 2020 with a back injury. The Chiefs, whose 30-year-old right guard (Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif) may be needed elsewhere, need a rookie-contract O-line cornerstone. Michigan tackle Jalen Mayfield has played both left and right tackle and could be there at No. 31.


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The Raiders will give former No. 4 overall pick Cle Ferrell more time, but after two years and 6.5 sacks, the likelihood experts were right and the Raiders were wrong moves closer to reality. Maxx Crosby is more of an auxiliary pass rusher; the Raiders at least need to acquire his tag-team partner. Las Vegas is projected to be over the cap, but a few cut avenues exist. Though ex-Bengals assistant Paul Guenther is gone, signing Carl Lawson — whose 32 QB hits ranked second last year —   would complement the Raiders’ rookie-deal D-ends. New DC Gus Bradley bringing over former Chargers pupil Melvin Ingram would not be a bad idea either.


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Multiple needs exist for the Chargers up front, with Herbert’s O-line featuring injury-prone vets or unproven younger blockers. The Bolts having needs at left tackle, left guard and perhaps center should prompt them to address their line in free agency and in the draft. With their No. 13 overall pick, Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater may be there. Slater is viewed as a player who could line up at tackle or inside. Penei Sewell will be off the board by this point. If not Slater, the Bolts need to come away with a starting O-lineman early in this draft after striking gold at quarterback.


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For the second straight season, a Rams rental outside linebacker came through with a double-digit sack showing. Leonard Floyd followed Dante Fowler in breaking through alongside Aaron Donald, and the Rams now have Floyd and four-year contributor Samson Ebukam as free agents. Taking on a record dead-money sum for shipping out Jared Goff, the Rams are over the cap and will need restructures, cuts, and extensions to create room. But they have no first-round pick, per usual, and nothing of note on the edge. A Floyd return or another rental will need to take place for a star-obsessed regime that made its biggest all-in move yet.


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If the Texans smartly opt to keep Watson, the Dolphins have an opportunity to augment Tagovailoa’s receiving corps in the draft and in free agency. Several options will be available in March, in what will be a deep receiver free agent class, and Miami holds the Nos. 3 and 18 overall picks. At No. 3, Alabama phenom and ex-Tagovailoa teammate, DeVonta Smith could well be there. So could LSU superstar Ja’Marr Chase, who dominated with Joe Burrow in 2019 before opting out as a junior. The Dolphins need to land Nos. 1 and 3 wideouts to join DeVante Parker and give their QB a better chance at NFL production. 


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None of Mike Zimmer’s first six Vikings defenses ranked outside the top 11 in points allowed; his 2020 unit finished 29th. Granted, injuries battered Minnesota’s defense. The Vikings return no player who recorded more than four sacks for them last season, and with Danielle Hunter missing all of 2020 due to injury and longtime edge mate Everson Griffen gone, the team needs to bolster its defensive front. Miami cogs Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips profile as building blocks who could be available when the Vikings pick at No. 14. The Vikes built their recent playoff defenses through the draft; they need more cost-controlled help.


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Multiple parts of New England’s offense need repair. Cam Newton was bad, so were his receivers. If the 49ers upgrade at QB, the Patriots bringing Jimmy Garoppolo home would help them work on other areas. Garoppolo’s pay-as-you-go deal runs through 2022, giving the Pats flexibility to search for a long-term solution. A Patriot for nearly four years, Garoppolo threw 27 TD passes in 2019 and is quite familiar with Josh McDaniels’ system. At least one upper-class wide receiver —  ideally a veteran, given this team’s issues drafting wideouts — needs to join whatever QB the Pats acquire. Fortunately, many receivers will be available.


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Residing on their own tier of salary cap trouble, the Saints may be forced into a retooling year after their all-in push of the past few offseasons. Sean Payton has stood by Taysom Hill for years and used him as a full-time quarterback during Brees’ 2020 injury hiatus. The Saints have Hill under contract at a reasonable (for a QB1) rate through 2021. Financial issues have not limited the Saints much in recent years, but it looks like they finally will now. The Saints must add another group of rookie-contract contributors in April and use 2021 to find out if Hill truly is a viable long-term option.


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Since acquiring Leonard Williams at the 2019 trade deadline, the Giants featured one of the more underrated position groups — a D-line quartet of Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, and B.J. Hill. This helped the team make up for edge-rushing limitations. Both Williams and Tomlinson are free agents, with the former coming off a career-best season (11.5 sacks, 30 QB hits). The Giants still need help outside, and keeping Tomlinson over the more expensive Williams would help here. But given GM Dave Gettleman’s investment in Williams, a big extension is likely on tap. This will decrease funding for outside linebackers.


25 of 32
New York Jets: fix late-season mix-up, land franchise QB

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Jets fans could mock up Lawrence in those green, white, and poorly conceived alternate black uniforms for weeks last season. Their win over the Rams may have been the beginning of the end for Jared Goff; it also killed visions of the likely Jacksonville-bound Lawrence. The Jets have a rare reprieve opportunity. Armed with four first-round picks over the next two drafts, a franchise that has lacked a young franchise QB since Joe Namath is in a position to bring Watson to the Big Apple. If the Texans make Watson available, this is the team that most needs to pounce.


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This looks like the waning stretch for the Eagles’ Super Bowl champion nucleus. The team is projected to be well over the 2021 cap and on track to, with the apparently imminent Wentz trade, absorb an NFL-record $33 million dead-money hit. New Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, a Frank Reich disciple seemingly brought in to fix Wentz, must now oversee a rebuild. To start, the Eagles will need to determine if Jalen Hurts’ trajectory points toward “future starter” or “backup/gadget player.” The Eagles hold the No. 6 overall pick and likely will have another first-rounder. Despite extending Wentz in 2019, Philly must consider another QB pick.


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While the Steelers will perform their usual contract-restructuring gymnastics to move under what is expected to be a reduced cap, their salary situation will force key departures. Longtime starters JuJu Smith-Schuster, Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, and James Conner may all be gone. The Steelers’ top need is a Ben Roethlisberger heir apparent, but with Mason Rudolph and now Dwayne Haskins on the team, Pittsburgh might still wait another year to make that move. The Steelers must come out of this draft with multiple 2021 starters, even though they appear poised to decline before their post-Big Ben reboot.


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Kyle Shanahan’s coaching rival now has Matthew Stafford set to lead a Super Bowl-or-bust team, while the Seahawks and Cardinals have franchise QBs. The 49ers have made the NFC West’s most recent Super Bowl appearance and did so with Garoppolo having a good, not great year. But the 49ers were in the Stafford mix. Shanahan must determine if Garoppolo is still enough in a loaded division because the 49ers hold the No. 12 overall pick and may also be connected to other veteran passers (Sam Darnold, Derek Carr among them). With Garoppolo on a flexible deal, the 49ers can scan the market ahead of their April decision.


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Prior to Aaron Donald’s rib injury, he led a five-sack charge that keyed a Rams upset over the Seahawks in Round 1. That highlighted an evergreen issue for Seattle. The Seahawks’ best O-lineman, left tackle Duane Brown, will soon be 36. Although they landed a keeper in third-round guard Damien Lewis, he has next to nothing around him long-term. If Pete Carroll insists on making his top-five quarterback pilot a run-based offense, he and GM John Schneider need to use real capital — rather than their usual bargain-buy blueprint — to upgrade their offensive front ahead of Russell Wilson’s age-33 season.


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Dated and appropriate Teddy KGB reference aside, the Bucs signed Shaq Barrett for $4 million in 2019 and used their franchise tag on him in 2020. The former Broncos backup has delivered for two years and led one of the top defensive performances in Super Bowl history. He deserves a premier edge rusher contract. The Bucs have Tom Brady, but they are a defense-powered team. A long-term Barrett deal before March 9’s franchise tag deadline would allow for a Chris Godwin or Lavonte David tag. The Super Bowl champions, who also have Ndamukong Suh as a free-agent-to-be, rank top 10 in cap space. They will need to use it soon.


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Despite investing in edge rushers and cornerbacks in recent years, the Titans allowed a 52% third-down conversion rate — a 21st century-worst in the NFL. GM Jon Robinson needs a much better offseason. But the team is short on cap space, thanks to some big deals given to offensive standouts last year. Cap cuts will create more needs, but Tennessee must better support Harold Landry on the edge and needs more help at corner. Veterans like Melvin Ingram or Justin Houston would make sense, especially if their markets suffer because of the reduced cap. But the Titans recorded 19 sacks last year (30th); that cannot happen again.


32 of 32
Washington: come away with QB upgrade

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As Washington’s offer of a first-round pick and change for Matthew Stafford showed, the team is serious about improving. It needs to be, with Alex Smith set to turn 37 and Kyle Allen coming off a severe injury. Allen and Taylor Heinicke are restricted free agents; each could pass for a stopgap starter. But this offseason is already showing the QB measuring stick has moved. Washington, which also will not land Carson Wentz, is well off the pace. Free agency brings the likes of Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett, and longtime Ron Rivera charge Cam Newton. Expect more noise from Washington in the trade market.


ผู้เล่นลอตเตอรีของมิชิแกนถูกรางวัลแจ็กพอต 1.05 พันล้านล้านล้านดอลลาร์

Stupid is as stupid does.Racism has always caused white people to make really bad decisions, especially in sports. I mean, how else can you explain the cliff that baseball has fallen off given the way the sport has treated Black players at every level for decades. The determination to keep certain aspects of sports as white as possible has always come at a cost. And on Sunday night, the world watched as three of football’s best coaches — who happened to be Black — had to serve as assistants due to white owners not hiring them for one of the seven head coaching vacancies that have been filled over the past few weeks.In September, I wrote about how racism is why teams usually draft sorry white quarterbacks, as I broke down some recent drafts in which multiple teams have totally whiffed on selecting a franchise Black quarterback, all because they preferred a sorry white one.Hatred and bigotry really are terrible business models.A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the two teams left standing after an unforgettable season due to COVID-19, had staffs that were filled with women and Black coaches. It was the ultimate example of all the benefits that come along when diversity is encouraged and supported.After every Super Bowl, the winning quarterback and both head coaches get a ton of the attention, praise, and blame for what worked and didn’t work. That’s just how it is. But, in a game in which three of the four offensive and defensive coordinators were Black, we need to address how well those men did, and why they won’t be leading their own teams next season.Eric Bieniemy (the poster child for how overqualified Black candidates get passed over): Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City ChiefsImage: Getty ImagesG/O Media may get a commissionFor the last few weeks, all we’ve heard are rumors that Bieniemy doesn’t “interview well,” which is why he hasn’t been hired. That lie was put to rest when the Lions hired a man that wants his team to bite their opponents’ kneecaps.The other excuse we heard was that since Bieniemy didn’t “call the plays” in Kansas City, Andy Reid was the reason why the Chiefs offense and Patrick Mahomes were so great. Well, since the Chiefs and Mahomes both sucked on Sunday night and were held to just three field goals, as Mahomes threw two interceptions and was barely over 50 percent, Bieniemy can’t be blamed for Reid’s play-calling failures. The lack of production is squarely on the shoulders of Reid and his quarterback. You can’t have it both ways. Byron Leftwich: Offensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay BuccaneersImage: Getty ImagesThis is what was said about Leftwich before the Super Bowl:“I was very, very pissed Byron at least didn’t get an interview this year. For the job that he’s done, I get way too much credit and so does Tom Brady.” – Bruce Arians. “Now that we’re working together, it’s been great. He’s got a great work ethic, great football IQ and it’s been a growing process for both of us in growing together. When you work together for a long period of time, we began to see the game very similarly. When he’s watching film, he thinks, ‘Oh, this is what Tom would like,’ and vice versa.” – Tom Brady.One of the most beloved head coaches in NFL history and the greatest football player of all time are all huge fans of Leftwich, and he couldn’t even get an interview. Sunday night, the Bucs offense scored 31 points and accumulated 26 first downs, 340 yards, averaged 5.4 yards a play, and didn’t turn the ball over once.You would think an offensive coach of that caliber would demand some level of respect. But after the game, Leftwich was busy correcting media members that think all Black people look alike.Todd Bowles: Defensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay BuccaneersImage: APDrew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or Patrick Mahomes. It doesn’t matter. If you put a future hall of fame quarterback in front of a Todd Bowles defense, he will make them look bad.According to NextGenStats, Mahomes ran 497 yards before throwing the ball or being sacked on Sunday night, making it the highest total for any quarterback this season. Bowles barely blitzed and took away the Chiefs’ most explosive weapon in Tyreek Hill, as he was held to seven catches for just 73 yards. The scheme was a masterpiece, as Bowles’ defense turned Mahomes into the one thing he is not, a game manager. Instead of the exciting big plays and ridiculous passes he throws multiple times a game, we’ve never seen Mahomes be a quarterback that can methodically take his team down the field for multiple drives. Bowles knew that and exposed the biggest hole in Mahomes’ game.Now, this is the part where someone will bring up the fact that Bowles had “his chance” when he was the head coach of the New York Jets from 2015-2018. And because of that, I will also remind you that in his first season in New York, Bowles won more games over two seasons (10) than did Adam Gase, the sorry white coach that replaced him (9).Sadly, the trio of Bieniemy, Leftwich, and Bowles will all be assistant coaches next season. Hopefully, they’ll get interview opportunities, but that remains to be seen. You have to prepare for the worse and hope for the best whenever it comes to race relations and the NFL. Because in case you forgot, during the Super Bowl the league ran a commercial about how they’ve committed $250 million to combating systemic racism, all while still being a proponent of systemic racism by the continued blackballing of Colin Kaepernick. .

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Tampa’s Shaq Barrett was on top of Patrick Mahomes all throughout last night’s lopsided victory.Photo: Getty ImagesThere is zero chance I would have believed you last week if you told me that the Chiefs, with one of the most explosive and creative offenses in the NFL, and with one of the most talented arms the league has ever seen, would be kept out of the end zone in the Super Bowl. But that happened. The Buccaneers defense did something nobody was able to accomplish all season — hold Kansas City without a touchdown.I had my concerns. I asked Patrick Mahomes last week how the team was preparing to face a very talented defensive front, knowing that the loss of left tackle Eric Fischer was a blow to their offensive line; the Chiefs entered Sunday with only one of their five presumptive starters on the line from the preseason. Mahomes knew it would be a battle. He said in part:It’s going to be a great challenge for them, but we’re going to do what we can to get the ball out of my hands, and get it to the playmakers and let them make plays with it.So let’s talk about that. Firstly, the Chiefs offensive line was overwhelmingly mismatched. While Mahomes was only sacked three times, he was under constant siege, oftentimes scrambling nearly twenty yards behind the line of scrimmage to avoid the pressure. While the optics showed that to be the case, the stats are worse. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Patrick Mahomes was pressured more in this game than any quarterback in Super Bowl History (29), passing the record of 25 set by Jim Kelly in SB XXVI. Brady faced his fewest pressures (4) in any Super Bowl of his career. The fact that he took only three sacks on 29 pressures is a Herculean effort. According to NextGenStats, the Chiefs used a 5-man protection on 92.3 percent of their dropbacks. How the Chiefs didn’t gameplan to use additional blockers knowing their offensive line was vastly depleted is beyond me, and it cost them. Head Coach Andry Reid is notorious for making in-game adjustments. This is one that he missed.G/O Media may get a commissionWhile Mahomes was running for his life and trying to make otherworldly plays, his teammates didn’t help. On one of his seemingly endless scrambles last night, while falling to the ground, Mahomes flicked the ball on a rope 30 yards towards the end zone. In my opinion, this would have been the greatest Super Bowl touchdown pass of all time had Darrell Williams caught it instead of letting it hit him square in the facemask.After the game, I asked Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis about covering the Chiefs skill players for so long in coverage as Mahomes was scrambling and trying to make plays happen. Carlton said:I mean it’s something that we knew that they did a lot, and we knew that they had a lot of success with [Mahomes] getting out of the pocket, and creating more time for his receivers to get down field, so that was a big emphasis this whole week – to just plaster to the receivers, stay on top of him even when he’s outside the pocket, and just trust the D-line and trust that they would get him down.Carlton was in coverage for 54 coverage snaps. He was targeted only four times, allowing two receptions for only 14 yards, and the Buccaneers defense held Mahomes to 270 passing yards, two interceptions, and zero touchdowns. There’s no chance the Buccaneers would have dreamed this game would go any better, on both sides of the ball. .

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Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 to win Super Bowl LV on Sunday night. It was Brady’s seventh championship and the Buccaneers’ second.
For Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, it was the worst game of his NFL career. The 25-year-old failed to score a touchdown in a game he started for the first time since high school. The loss was also his first as a starter with the Chiefs by more than eight points.
Mahomes lauded the Tampa Bay defense after the contest for what was their best game of the season. 

“They were the better team today,” Mahomes said, according to ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “They beat us pretty good, the worst I think I’ve been beaten in a long time.
“They took away our deep stuff. They took away the sidelines and they did a good job of rallying to the football and making tackles. We weren’t executing early, had a few miscues. Guys weren’t on the same page. Credit to them. They played a heck of a game defensively and offensively to beat us.”
The Buccaneers defense pressured Mahomes a Super Bowl-record 29 times. That pressure caused him to go 26-of-49 with 270 yards and two interceptions. He finished the game with a 49.9 quarterback rating, the second-worst of his career. 
It’s unclear what’s next for Kansas City. Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill will be back, but their massive contracts don’t leave much room for any significant additions this offseason. 

Here’s a list of all Kansas City’s free agents:WR Sammy WatkinsWR Demarcus RobinsonC Austin ReiterG Mike RemmersG Kelechi OsemeleFB Anthony ShermanC Daniel KilgoreG Stefen WisniewskiRB Le’Veon BellTE Ricky Seals-JonesG Andrew WylieTE Deon YelderRB Darrel WilliamsWR Byron PringleTE Nick KeizerWR Gehrig DieterS Daniel SorensenCB Bashaud BreelandEDGE Alex OkaforLB Damien WilsonEDGE Tanoh KpassagnonCB Antonio HamiltonDL Mike PennelEDGE Taco CharltonLB Ben NiemannCB Charvarius WardCB Alex BrownLB Emmanuel Smith

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