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Mahomes could play, start Sunday’s game

December 27, 2017 GMT

With the Kansas City Chiefs locked into the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, it’s hard to believe many of the starters will play in Sunday’s game at Denver.

In 2013, the Chiefs were locked into the fifth spot, and coach Andy Reid elected to rest nearly every starter on both sides of the ball. If he does the same this year, that means Chiefs fans will get their first regular-season look at rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft.

Reid did little to address the question after Sunday’s division-clinching win over the Miami Dolphins.

“It gives us flexibility, yes,” Reid said. “It gives us flexibility there.”

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Quarterback Alex Smith said he understands the arguments for and against playing this week.

“I mean, I think there’s advantages and disadvantages that you can make arguments for,” he said. “It just depends. ... This is a physical game and you don’t know what can happen. We’ll figure it out when coach tells us what the deal is.

“I’m pumped about the back-to-back thing right now and obviously clinching. We’ll see. We’ll see about what coach does with the time and all of that.”

Smith sat out the last week’s of 2013 and 2014, paving way for then-backup quarterback Chase Daniel to start. Smith played the past two regular-season finales with the team needing a victory to clinch the divisions those years. That’s not the case this time around.

Kansas City (9-6) kicks off against division-rival Denver Broncos (5-10) for a chance to extend a four-game winning streak over its rivals. The Chiefs also can continue a hot streak over the AFC West in which they have won 15 of 16 games.

Smith said momentum isn’t at risk this week.

“I don’t think that necessarily outweighs the other things,” the 13th-year pro said. “But again, I don’t get to make these decisions. We’ll wait and see.”

If Smith plays, he can break the club record for most touchdowns in a season since the AFL-NFL merger (Elvis Grbac had 28 in 2000).

Len Dawson, who played in the original West Coast offense, tossed 29 and 30 TDs in 1962 and 1964, respectively. But Dawson also threw 17 and 18 interceptions during those seasons; Smith has thrown just five picks this year to go with 26 scores, marking one of the greatest quarterback seasons in Chiefs history.

Smith also can up his passing yards, but he still is more than 500 yards shy of Trent Green’s record of 4,591 yards set in 2004.

Mahomes gaining some reps this Sunday could pay dividends for his progress. The rookie out of Texas Tech is the only QB taken in the first two rounds of last April’s draft who has not started a game — nor seen any action.

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“He hasn’t been in live bullets since camp,” Smith said. “But, I’ve said this all along, he’s a pretty natural player. If he has to, he’ll bounce back quick.”

But one rookie starter wants to play.

“I’m looking forward to getting it rolling and getting back out there as soon as possible,” running back Kareem Hunt said. “I love playing football, and that’s what I like to do in my spare time. Now, I am trying to make this Super Bowl run.”