The Denver Broncos have parted company with head coach Vic Fangio, the team announced on Sunday.

Fangio – who had been in position for the last three seasons – achieved a 19-30 record during his time with the franchise, failing to reach the playoffs throughout his tenure.

Denver started this campaign in promising fashion, winning their first three games, and after victory against the Detroit Lions in Week 14, they had a record of 7-6 and were very much in playoff contention.

However, four defeats in a row saw their campaign come off the rails, culminating in Saturday's final game against the Kansas City Chiefs on home soil, which they lost 28-24.

In a statement, Fangio said he was an "honor and privilege" to coach the Broncos and added: "the foundation is in place for this team to achieve great things."

President and CEO Joe Ellis confirmed on Sunday that general manager George Paton will lead the process to find Fangio's replacement.

"This morning, George and I informed Vic of the decision to part ways with him as head coach of the Denver Broncos," Ellis said in a statement. "For the last three seasons, Vic put his heart and soul into coaching the Broncos. I want to thank Coach Fangio for giving his maximum effort to our organization since the day he was hired.

"George will have full authority to select the next head coach of the Broncos. This is his decision and his program. I have complete confidence in George's ability to lead an exhaustive and successful head coaching search."

Paton also stated his gratitude for the work Fangio had done with the Broncos, saying: "I have tremendous respect for Vic and all he's accomplished in the NFL.

"Over the past year, I appreciate his partnership, friendship and the tireless work ethic he demonstrated as our head coach.

"Vic will continue to have great success in this league, and I thank him for everything he did for the Broncos as well as me personally."

The Broncos had not posted a winning record since Fangio was appointed, achieving 7-9 in 2019 and 5-11 in 2020, and have not reached the playoffs since they won Super Bowl 50.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes says his side will be ready to win during the playoffs irrespective of whether they claim the AFC's top seeding.

The Chiefs improved their record to 12-5 with Saturday's 28-24 win over the Denver Broncos, which was Kansas City's 13th straight road win against AFC West opposition.

The result means the Tennessee Titans have to beat the Houston Texans on Sunday to move above the Chiefs to claim the AFC's top seed.

"We'll watch the game and everything like that," Mahomes told ESPN after the game.

"We handled our business today. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Regardless we'll be ready to win some football games."

The Chiefs may have clinched the top seed on Saturday had they not gone down 34-31 to the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend, snapping their eight-game win streak.

Mahones, who threw two touchdowns and completed 27 of 44 passes for 270 yards, said the Chiefs needed to improve if they were going to make a long playoffs run.

"We've got to be better. We've got what it takes," Mahomes said.

"We've got everybody in the locker room to do what we want to do but we've got to be better if we want to make a run through the AFC because it's a tough division."

The Chiefs appeared in danger of a loss to the Broncos until ex-Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram's tackle on Broncos running back Melvin Gordon forced a fumble which rookie Nick Bolton scooped and scored from in the fourth quarter.

"That was a heck of a play by Melvin Ingram," Mahomes said. "That's the reason why we got him here. He makes plays like that."

Patrick Mahomes threw two touchdown passes but Missouri rookie Nick Bolton came up with the key play as the Kansas City Chiefs kept their AFC top seeding hopes alive with a seesawing 28-24 win over the Denver Broncos.

Bolton delivered a 86-yard scoop and score to give the Chiefs a lead they would not relinquish in the fourth quarter after Melvin Ingram's tackle forced a fumble from Broncos running back Melvin Gordon.

The result means the Chiefs (12-5) will claim the AFC top seed if the Tennessee Titans (11-5) fail to beat the Houston Texans on Sunday.

The victory was also the Chiefs's 13th straight road win against AFC West opponents.

Mahomes completed 27 of 44 passes for 270 yards with two TD passes for Travis Kelce in the first quarter and Jerick McKinnon in the third. The Kansas City QB also rushed 54 yards from nine carries.

The Broncos, who will finish last in the AFC West with a 7-10 record, were difficult to shake all game, with QB Drew Lock rushing two touchdowns, while running back Gordon scored a 47-yard TD to put them up 20-17 in the third.

The Chiefs found the match-winning play in the fourth quarter as the Broncos closed the nine-yard line after a 10-play drive with Ingram forcing the error and Lock unable to tackle Bolton.

The 18th and final round of the NFL regular season is upon us and there remains plenty of intrigue in a frantic scramble to make it to the playoffs.

Five teams from the AFC are competing for two postseason berths, while one spot is up for grabs in the NFC. 

Away from the Super Bowl picture, there are a number of other intriguing subplots ahead of an action-packed weekend.

Stats Perform previews some of the standout games and the best of the rest.


Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) @ Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)

The winner of this contest is guaranteed a playoff spot, while there is also a scenario whereby a tie could see both advance. Interestingly, six of the previous seven games in Oakland/Las Vegas have been decided by three points or fewer.

The Raiders beat the Colts on a last-second field goal last week to prevail 23-20 – their fifth win of the season by four points or fewer, tied with the Packers and the Titans for the most in the NFL.

Justin Herbert set the single-season passing touchdowns record for the Chargers last week with his 35th of the campaign. He now requires 172 yards this week to also take the passing-yards record.

The Chargers' 34-13 win against the Broncos was their fourth victory in a win while scoring 30 points or more. They have averaged 33.9 points per game in wins this season, second most in the NFL behind the Bills (35.1).

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

The Steelers have won three in a row against the Ravens, with all three of those victories being decided by less than a touchdown, the most recent coming by a 20-19 scoreline last month.

Last week's 12-point win over the Browns was the Steelers' largest of the season, though not since 1969 have they gone a full campaign without winning by at least 13 points.

The Ravens are coming off the back of a 20-19 loss to the Rams, their league-leading eighth game decided by three or fewer points this season – no team in NFL history has had more than nine games decided by three or fewer points.

Najee Harris rushed for 188 of the Steelers' 190 rushing yards against the Browns and accounts for 77.9 per cent of his side's rush yards this season, the highest share of any player in the NFL.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) @ Denver Broncos (7-9)

The Chiefs will be looking to respond to their defeat against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 17 when they take on the Broncos, whom they have defeated in 12 successive meetings – the league's joint-longest active winning streak along with the New England Patriots against the New York Jets.

Despite last week's defeat, the Chiefs have scored at least 30 points in four successive games, which is the longest-running streak in the NFL and one short of their all-time record of five set in 2004 and 2018.

Kansas lead the way in the NFL with 391 first downs this season and, with nine more this weekend, will become the fifth team in the last 70 years with 400 or more first downs in a season.

The Broncos were defeated by the Chargers last time out to ensure a losing season for the fifth straight year, an unwanted run they last went on from 1963 to 1972 with 10 straight losing seasons.

Elsewhere...

The Jaguars require a victory against the Colts to avoid becoming the fourth team in the last 30 years to have consecutive seasons with two or fewer wins. The Colts have lost three games this season by exactly three points – the Seahawks are the only team this season that has failed to win a single game by three or fewer points with more losses in such games (0-5).

The Rams can clinch their third NFC West title in six seasons season since moving back to Los Angeles with victory over the 49ers. However, the Niners have won each of their last five meetings with the Rams.

The Falcons have three successive wins against the Saints in Atlanta and are seeking a fourth in a row for the first time since between 1991 and 1994. Following defeat to the Bills last week, the Falcons have alternated between wins and losses over their last seven games.

The Bills can clinch their second consecutive division title with victory against the Jets, following on from a previous run of 24 straight seasons without finishing top. All 10 of Buffalo's wins this season have come by 12 points or more.

Melvin Gordon has expressed his frustration after the Denver Broncos missed out on the playoffs despite having what he believes is a roster good enough to reach the Super Bowl.

The Broncos host the Kansas City Chiefs in their final game of the 2021 season on Saturday sitting at 7-9, certain to miss the postseason and end up with a losing record.

They lost 34-13 to the Los Angeles Chargers last week, part of a three-game streak which also contained losses to the Cincinnati Bengals and Las Vegas Raiders, scuppering their hopes of reaching the playoffs.

Gordon will be a free agent at the end of the season, with head coach Vic Fangio also facing an uncertain future, and the running back cannot believe how the season is ending.

"You sit back and get frustrated because we are so much better than what our record shows," Gordon said to SI.com. 

"It's frustrating. It's frustrating as a player, as coaches, as an organization. It's frustrating. 

"We're such a good football team. So talented across the board it is ridiculous. For us to be sitting here and not having a chance for the playoffs, all that work you put into the offseason, it's tough to say the least.

"After the Raiders game, I was so mad, just because I was thinking about from the D-line, from the secondary, from our receivers, tight ends, the linemen we have – young but yet a lot of moxie.

"Running backs, even the ones, the twos, the threes, even the guys that don't get as much love, the linebackers – it was so frustrating because it's such a well-built team. It's a Super Bowl team."

Gordon has formed a strong rushing attack with rookie Javonte Williams – both players rank in the top 13 in the NFL for rushes of 10+ yards – while the team's defense has only allowed 268 offensive points in 16 games, good for second in the NFL behind only the New England Patriots (250).

But the quarterback position and passing attack has again proved problematic for the Broncos.

After Drew Lock's struggles in 2020, this year's starting QB Teddy Bridgewater's yards per attempt rate of 7.16 ranks in the bottom half (17th) of the league and Courtland Sutton is the team's top receiver with just 763 yards.

The Chiefs (11-5), meanwhile, will go into Saturday's game still in with a chance of being the number one seeds in the AFC.

They must beat the Broncos and will then be reliant on the Tennessee Titans dropping their game at the Houston Texans one day later.

The Arizona Cardinals continued their excellent road form as they edged the Dallas Cowboys 25-22 in a potential-playoff preview with Kyler Murray leading the way on Sunday.

The Cardinals improved their season record to 11-5 and their road record to 8-1, snapping a three-game skid, with Texas-born Murray throwing two touchdowns as he completed 26 of 38 attempts for 263 yards.

The Cowboys had trailed 22-7 at the final charge but stormed back into contention as Dak Prescott threw three TD passes for the game but Murray expertly managed the clock late.

Murray found Antoine Wesley for two TDs including a spectacular catch in the third quarter, while Jonathan Ward made a remarkable helmet catch on a fake punt.

The Cowboys lost Michael Gallup to injury upon his second-quarter receiving touchdown and did not return, not helping their cause.

Prescott, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 226 yards along with 20 rushing yards, found Cedrick Wilson and Amari Cooper for final-quarter TDs to tighten the game but he also had a costly fumble at 22-14.

Chargers snap skid as Williams scores 101-yard return

The Los Angeles Chargers snapped a two-game skid with a 34-13 victory over the Denver Broncos to boost their Wild Card hopes as they improve to a 9-7 record.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw 22 of 31 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns, breaking the franchise record for single-season touchdown passes at 35.

Andre Williams scored a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown in the fourth quarter, while Austin Ekeler returned to LA's line-up and was important, with 17 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown, along with three receptions for 54 yards.

 

Lance leads 49ers to key win in Wild Card race

Trey Lance stepped in for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo and provided two touchdown passes as the San Francisco 49ers won 23-7 over the Houston Texans.

Lance completed 16 of 23 passes for 249 yards with the two TDs and an interception to help the 49ers improve to 9-7 in the NFC Wild Card pursuit.

Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell scored the touchdowns as the 49ers scored 20 second-half points to secure the win.

The Baltimore Ravens are in danger of letting their season get away from them after a four-game losing run and things do not appear to get any easier with the Los Angeles Rams visiting on Sunday.

John Harbaugh's men have a positive recent record against the Rams though, and will need to properly utilise the impressive form of Mark Andrews.

The Indianapolis Colts can clinch their playoff spot with a win against the Las Vegas Raiders, while a potentially fascinating encounter in the race for the playoffs between the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos will take place at SoFi Stadium.

Stats Perform takes a look at the standout statistics ahead of the penultimate week of the NFL's regular season.

Los Angeles Rams (11-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-7)

The Rams have lost four straight games against the Ravens (outscored 120-29 in those games) and are 2-5 all-time against them - Baltimore the only franchise in the league the Rams have never won a road game against (0-3).

Rams running back Sony Michel ran for 131 yards and a touchdown in last week's win against the Minnesota Vikings, two yards from tying a career-high set in 2018 with the New England Patriots. He has 423 yards in his last four games after a combined 305 in his first 11 games.

The Ravens lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 41-21 last week, allowing 525 passing yards, the most in franchise history. They also finished with just 39 rushing yards of their own, their fewest since a franchise-low 11 in 2016.

Andrews had eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown last week. He now has three straight games with at least 100 receiving yards and at least one touchdown. He is the only Raven to ever have three such games in a row, and just the second tight end in NFL history (Jimmy Graham in 2013).

Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) @ Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

The Raiders were 7-2 in their first nine games against the Colts but have gone just 2-6 since then (dating back to 2004). They won 31-24 in their last trip to Indianapolis in 2019 but lost at home the following season.

After beating the Broncos last week, the Raiders have won back-to-back games despite scoring 17 points or fewer in each. It is the first time they have done so since 1991 – those victories came against the Broncos and the Colts.

The Colts beat the Arizona Cardinals 22-16 last week, improving to 8-2 in their last 10 games after starting the season 1-4. Their 31.2 points per game since Week 6 leads the NFL.

Jonathan Taylor had 108 rushing yards in his last outing, his ninth display this season with at least 100 yards – the Colts have won all nine of those games. Indianapolis has not won a game in which he has been held under the century mark this season.

Denver Broncos (7-8) @ Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

The Broncos beat the Chargers 28-13 in Week 12, their largest win over them since a 23-7 triumph in the 2005 season. Fourteen of the last 21 games between these teams have been decided by one possession (eight points or fewer).

Drew Lock is expected to start at quarterback again after starting his first game of the season last time out. Since the start of 2020, Lock has the lowest completion percentage among the 29 quarterbacks with 500 or more pass attempts (57.6 per cent).

The Chargers allowed 189 rushing yards in a 41-29 loss to the Houston Texans, who entered the game ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards per game. The Chargers are allowing 140.3 rushing yards per game, on pace for their worst mark since the 1987 strike season (144.7).

Justin Jackson had a career-high 162 scrimmage yards against the Texans while filling in for Austin Ekeler. He has 261 scrimmage yards in his last two games, which Ekeler has done just once in a two-game span this season (264 yards from Weeks 4-5).

Elsewhere...

Atlanta Falcons (7-8) QB Matt Ryan will look to add to his 3,555 yards thrown overall this season when he faces the Buffalo Bills (9-6). It is his 12th consecutive season with at least 3,500 passing yards. He joins Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady in an exclusive club to achieve the passing milestone in that many straight campaigns.

The Patriots (9-6) have lost at least two December games in each of the last four seasons (3-2 in 2018, 2-3 in 2019, 1-3 in 2020, 1-2 in 2021). New England, who host the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13), have more December losses over the last four seasons (7-10) than in the previous 15 seasons combined (56-9, 2003-2017).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) star Brady is 30-7 as a starter against the New York Jets (4-11) in his career (including postseason). That is the second-most wins by any QB against a single opponent behind only his own record against the Bills (33). Brady is 7-0 in his last seven against the Jets, winning by an average of 23.3 points. 

The Kansas City Chiefs - who can clinch the AFC's top seed if they avoid defeat against the Bengals and the Tennessee Titans lose in Miami - have lost their last five games in Cincinnati, with their last win there coming in September 1984.

Teddy Bridgewater was cleared to leave hospital on Monday after suffering a head injury during the Denver Broncos' 15-10 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Broncos quarterback was carted off the field after landing on his head and shoulder while he diced for a first down in the third quarter of the game at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday.

Bridgewater was kept in hospital overnight as a precaution, but the 29-year-old has now been discharged.

Denver (7-7) confirmed Bridgewater has entered the NFL's concussion protocol.

Drew Lock replaced Bridgewater and the stand-in signal-caller passed for 88 yards following his introduction, completing only six of his 12 throws.

The Broncos sit third in the AFC West behind the Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) and the Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) with three weeks of the regular season remaining.

They face a trip to take on the Las Vegas Raiders for a Week 16 showdown on Boxing Day.

Aaron Rodgers hit another career milestone as the Green Bay Packers held off a fourth-quarter charge by the Baltimore Ravens to clinch the NFC North with a 31-30 victory Sunday. 

Division champions for the third consecutive year, the Packers became the first NFL team to lock up a playoff berth. 

Green Bay led 31-17 before Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, making his second career start, ran for a pair of touchdowns in the final five minutes. 

After the second of those, with 45 seconds remaining, Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh opted to go for a two-point conversion that would have put the Ravens (8-6) on top, but Huntley could not connect on his pass attempt to Mark Andrews. 

That last defensive stand allowed Rodgers and the Packers (11-3) to escape with a win that gave them the division crown as the veteran quarterback completed 23 of 31 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns.

The last of those, an 11-yard strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling early in the fourth quarter, was the 442nd touchdown pass of the quarterback's career, tying him with Brett Favre for the most in Packers history. 

His opposite number Sunday, the 23-year-old Huntley, was starting with Ravens star Lamar Jackson sidelined by ankle injury. 

Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020, Huntley had a brilliant game, rushing for 73 yards and two scores while completing 28 of 40 passes for 215 yards and two more scores. 

Andrews was his top target all day, catching 10 passes for 136 yards and both of those TDs, but the tight end could not get his hands on the critical conversion try at the end. 

 

Bengals edge Broncos after Bridgewater injury

Joe Burrow hit Tyler Boyd for a 56-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter that proved the difference as the Cincinnati Bengals picked up a key road win with a 15-10 defeat of the Denver Broncos. 

The lone Bengals TD of the afternoon came about five minutes after the Broncos (7-7) lost quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a head injury. 

Bridgewater collided with Bengals linebacker Joe Bachie in a scramble out of the backfield and both players went down. Bridgewater had to be carted off the field and was transported to a Denver hospital as a precaution. 

His replacement, Drew Lock, finished the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tim Patrick but Denver did not score again. 

Burrow completed 15 of 22 passes for 157 yards for the Bengals (8-6), who are tied with the Ravens atop the AFC North. 

 

Garoppolo, 49ers keep up winning ways

The San Francisco 49ers rolled to their fifth victory in six games, downing the Atlanta Falcons 31-13. 

Jimmy Garoppolo completed 18 of 23 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown and Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for 110 yards and a score for San Francisco (8-6). 

The victory coupled with division leader Arizona's stunning loss in Detroit earlier Sunday kept the 49ers firmly in playoff contention as they sit third in the NFC West behind the Cardinals (10-4) and Los Angeles Rams (9-4). 

Former Denver Broncos wide receiver and Super Bowl 50 champion Demaryius Thomas has died, aged 33.

Roswell Police Department confirmed to the NFL that Thomas was found deceased in his home on Thursday, with preliminary information suggesting his death stemmed from a medical issue.

In a short statement on its Twitter page, the league said: "The NFL family mourns the tragic loss of Demaryius Thomas and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones."

Thomas, who officially announced his retirement in June, having last played for the New York Jets in the 2019 season, spent eight and a half of his 10 years in the league with the Broncos.

Among tributes to the four-time Pro Bowler, a Broncos statement read: "We are devastated and completely heartbroken by the sudden, tragic passing of Demaryius Thomas. D.T. was beloved by our entire organisation, his team-mates and coaches, and our fans.

"Recently retiring as a Bronco, we were very much looking forward to celebrating Demaryius for years to come as one of the greatest players in franchise history."

The team added: "Demaryius' humility, warmth, kindness and infectious smile will always be remembered by those who knew him and loved him.

"We have lost an incredible player and a special person in Demaryius Thomas. Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to the Thomas family and all who are grieving this unimaginable loss."

A first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Thomas dealt with injuries in his first two seasons with the Broncos but was a starter in Denver thereafter.

In the 2013 season, in which quarterback Peyton Manning broke the single-season record for passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55), Thomas was the team's foremost offensive weapon (142 targets).

The receiver ranked fourth in the league for receiving yards (1,430) and second for receiving scores (14).

That season ended with a Thomas TD in a Super Bowl defeat to the Seattle Seahawks, but he and the Broncos returned to the title game two years later, winning the championship to end Manning's legendary career.

At the time of Thomas' retirement earlier this year, Manning said: "It was an honour and a privilege to play with you, to be your team-mate.

"I always had great respect for your toughness, your work ethic, your fearlessness across the middle, your ability to make big catches in big games.

"I never played with anybody as big and strong and powerful and as fast as you."

Depending on how your fantasy league is structured, it's either the final week of the regular season or the first week of the playoffs.

Regardless of which category you fall in, if you're still in contention for the title, it is crunch time.

There's no room for error, and those line-up selections must be right.

Stats Perform is here with a helping hand once again, identifying four offensive players and a defense worthy of starter consideration in Week 14.

 

Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks @ Houston Texans

After a shaky start, Wilson looked more like himself in the Seahawks' surprise win over the San Francisco 49ers last week.

There was a big-play connection with D.K. Metcalf and he also found Tyler Lockett for what proved the game-winning touchdown to keep Seattle's faint playoff hopes alive.

Having prevailed despite three turnovers from the Seahawks' offense, Wilson gets to try to continue his upward momentum against a Texans defense ranked 24th in the NFL by yards per play allowed.

Running Back: Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs. Detroit Lions

Williams was a workhorse for the Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs in the absence of backfield mate Melvin Gordon.

He carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards while also catching six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in Denver's loss at Arrowhead Stadium.

With Gordon back in practice ahead of Week 14, the same share of the touches appears unlikely for Williams.

But for a rookie running back averaging 4.8 yards per attempt, that may not matter against a Lions defense that has given up 42 rushes of 10 yards or more, tied for seventh-most in the league.

Wide Receiver: Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Minnesota Vikings

Trusting the Steelers' offense has been a difficult thing to do in what is expected to be the final year with an evidently declining Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

Yet one Steelers player fantasy managers, especially those in points per reception leagues, have had no problem believing in is wide receiver Johnson.

Johnson has double-digit targets and at least seven catches and 80 yards in each of his last four games. His 51 targets over that span are the most in the NFL.

He has topped 100 yards in two of those games and caught a pair of touchdowns in last week's win over the Baltimore Ravens.

Only six teams have given up more passing touchdowns in 2021 than the Vikings (21). If their pass coverage is as soft as it was on the final drive of their shock loss to Detroit, Johnson should thrive.

Tight End: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos

Back to those aforementioned Lions, for whom the pressure is off after they finally claimed that elusive first win in Week 13.

That extra freedom might see them look to open up the passing game against Denver, and Hockenson would likely be a beneficiary of such an approach.

He has a touchdown in each of his last two games and at least eight targets in five of his last seven. That could be enough for a productive fantasy outing even against a stingy Denver defense.

Defense: New Orleans Saints @ New York Jets

Injuries look like being too much to overcome for Sean Payton and the 5-7 Saints, but the Jets are an ideal opponent to face for teams looking to stay in the mix.

Even if quarterback Taysom Hill continues to struggle throwing the ball, the Saints can win this one on the defensive side. 

Their defense has forced a turnover in three successive games while no offense has committed more giveaways than the 25 racked up by the Jets.

This one is simple. If you own the Saints defense or are in a position to pick it up on the waiver wire, slot this group into your starting line-up.

Patrick Mahomes called for improvements and said the Kansas City Chiefs "expect greatness from each other" despite a record-setting victory over the Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs cruised past the Broncos 22-9 to collect a franchise record 12th straight victory over Denver, a streak dating back to Week 10 of 2015.

Kansas City also extended their winning run to five games on Sunday, despite quarterback Mahomes being far from his best.

The 26-year-old may have rushed for a touchdown on four carries, but he did not throw for a touchdown and was intercepted once on 15-of-29 passing for 184 yards.

Mahomes - who has already thrown 12 picks this season, as many as in his career-high 2018 campaign – was satisfied after yet another Chiefs win but called for improvements across the field.

"I think they know, from me and from all of us, and it's the same towards me as well, it's that they just have to be themselves," Mahomes told reporters. 

"There's nothing they have to do extra. They have the talent, they have the playmaking ability to just continue to go out there and be themselves. I think we'll continue to get better and better. 

"We're still winning football games. We don't want to get lost in that - we're winning a lot of football games, and we're winning by pretty big margins. 

"But we expect greatness from each other. We want to continue to get better as an offense and the defense to continue to get better and hopefully create a great football team."

Mahomes has only thrown for more than 300 yards once in his past six games, while Kansas City have registered over 22 points just once at home this season against the Cleveland Browns.

In their previous five games, the Chiefs have allowed 17, seven, 14, nine and nine points, having given up 29, 36, 30, 30 and 38 in the team's opening five games. 

They are the first franchise in NFL history to have a five-game winning run conceding 25-plus points and a five-game victorious streak allowing less than 20 points in the same season, per Stats Perform.

But 2018 MVP Mahomes insisted all the Chiefs are working on different ways to tighten up plays at both ends, despite Kansas City having an 8-4 record to top AFC West.

"You figure that when you get to, hopefully, the playoffs and kind of try to make a run that guys are going to try to take away those two guys," he added. 

"We'll do our best job of still trying to get them open, scheming them open in different ways. 

"But other guys are going to have to step up, and this week it was running backs out of the backfield. Next week, it might be other receivers, it might be different tight ends. I think we have the guys to do it, we just have to continue to go out there and do it."

The Kansas City Chiefs accounted for the Denver Broncos once again, 22-9 in a record-setting NFL victory as they continued their winning form.

Kansas City had won 11 consecutive games against Denver, a streak dating back to Week 10 of 2015 – the Chiefs had never enjoyed a longer winning streak over an opponent in franchise history.

But the in-form Chiefs eclipsed that streak in an historic victory as they also stretched their winning run in the NFL to five straight games on Sunday.

Patrick Mahomes was far from his best again, but the Chiefs still defeated the visiting Broncos in Kansas City.

Mahomes did not throw a touchdown, instead finishing with an interception on 15-of-29 passing for 184 yards, though he did rush for a TD on four carries.

The former MVP has already thrown 12 interceptions this season – matching his career high from 2018.

Kansas City used a 10-0 opening period to set the tone against the Broncos, with Daniel Sorensen's 76-yard pick-six of Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater putting the result beyond doubt with less than 10 minutes remaining in the final quarter.

In their last five games, Kansas City have allowed 17, seven, 14, nine and nine points, having given up 29, 36, 30, 30 and 38 in the team's opening five games. According to Stats Perform, they are the first franchise in NFL history to have a five-game winning streak allowing 25-plus points and a five-game victorious run allowing less than 20 points in the same season.

The Los Angeles Chargers' ability to challenge for the NFC West will be put to the test when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13. 

Los Angeles have won three straight games since a defeat to the NFC-leading Arizona Cardinals and can ill afford a slip-up against a Bengals side that are challenging in the AFC North. 

The Kansas City Chiefs have finally hit their stride but face a tough test when the Denver Broncos visit Arrowhead Stadium, while Monday sees a battle for supremacy in the AFC East between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills. 

We've run down some of the standout stats from the biggest games in Week 13. 

 

Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) 

The Bengals will be hopeful of avenging their 16-13 loss to the Chargers in Week 1 – their second straight defeat to Los Angeles. However, Cincinnati won their four other meetings since the 2010 season and are riding high after a resounding 41-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last time out. 

It was only the third time the Bengals beat the Steelers by 30 points or more, with the last occurrence being all the way back in September 1989. 

An early kick-off on the east coast will be tough for the Chargers to navigate, particularly after a 28-13 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 12. They had three rushing first downs against the Broncos, making it the fourth game in which they have had that many or fewer this season – the third most in the NFL. 

They may continue to rely on quarterback Justin Herbert to help them get points on the board. His 438 passing attempts this season places him third in the NFL, behind only Tom Brady (457) and Patrick Mahomes (449). 

The Chargers defense will need to keep a close watch on Joe Mixon, though. The running back had a career-high 165 rushing yards and 11 first downs in Week 12. 

Denver Broncos (6-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)  

Not only have the Chiefs won four straight after a 3-4 start, but they've also come out on top in 11 straight meetings with the Broncos – a run that stretches back to Week 10 of 2015. One more victory will make it the longest winning streak against a single opponent in the team's history. 

The game will have big implications on the playoff hopes of both sides, while the Broncos could move off the bottom of the AFC West and replace the Chiefs at the summit with a victory. 

Kansas City will hope Mahomes can restore the levels of production seen previously. He did not have a rushing or throwing touchdown in the 19-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys last time out, his second such game in his past five outings. In the 51 games before this run, he had a TD in 50 of them. 

He has still led an offense that has had 30 drives with 10 or more plays this season – the most in the NFL. Though the Chiefs' ability to get the ball out of their opponents' hands (they have allowed the fifth fewest drives with 10 or more plays this season) could be counteracted by Teddy Bridgewater's excellence under pressure. 

Bridgewater has a league-best completion percentage (77.6) to go with seven TD passes and no interceptions when facing the blitz this season. 

New England Patriots (8-4) at Buffalo Bills (7-4) 

The Bills dethroned the Pats in the AFC East in 2020 and could do with a home win to boost their chances of retaining the crown this year. 

New England fell to a 24-21 loss to the Bills on their last trip to Buffalo but are 15-2 across their previous 17 visits. They are also head into Monday's matchup on the back of a six-game winning streak. 

The game appears set to be played in frigid conditions and some stingy defenses may make for tepid action too – the Bills (182) and Patriots (190) are ranked first and second respectively for fewest points allowed this season. The Bills have allowed just 182 points while the Patriots have given up 190. 

Mac Jones threw for a career-high 310 yards in last week's win against the Tennessee Titans, but Buffalo made it 21 straight games in which they have had at least 300 yards of offense when the defeated the New Orleans Saints 31-6 on Thanksgiving. 

Stefon Diggs has been key for the Bills. He had 74 receiving yards against the Saints – his ninth game with at least 60 this season, behind only Cooper Kupp (11) and Justin Jefferson (10). 

Elsewhere... 

The Cardinals (9-2) are up against the Chicago Bears (4-7) at Soldier Field on their return from their bye week. The road team has won each of the last five meetings between these teams dating back to Chicago’s 20-point comeback on Monday Night Football in Arizona in Week 6, 2006. 

The New York Giants (4-7) will be hoping to stop the Miami Dolphins (5-7) make it five wins on the bounce. The Dolphins are the only team in the NFL this season to have had both a four-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak. 

Tom Brady leads the league in passing attempts (457), completions (309) and touchdowns (30) this season and will be hoping to steer the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) to victory at the Atlanta Falcons (5-6) 

The Seahawks (3-8) have lost eight games in a season for the first time since 2011, ending a franchise-record run of nine years with seven or fewer losses. However, they will no doubt be up for a grudge match against the San Francisco 49ers (6-5). 

Courtland Sutton has signed a four-year contract extension with the Denver Broncos. 

Sutton's new deal, which runs until 2025, is reportedly worth up to $60.8million, with $34.9m of that guaranteed. 

The Pro Bowler follows fellow wide receiver Tim Patrick in putting pen to paper on a new deal with the 5-5 Broncos. 

A second-round pick in 2018, Sutton was in the last year of his rookie contract. 

The 26-year-old only played one game last year after suffering a torn ACL but has played in all 10 games for the Broncos this season, taking 43 catches for 617 yards and two touchdowns. 

Only Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall racked up more receiving yards through their first 43 games for the Broncos than Sutton. 

Denver general manager George Paton said: "Courtland is one of our core players and among the best wide receivers in the NFL. 

"With his combination of size, speed, athleticism and work-ethic, Courtland is a special talent and an integral part of what we are building. 

"It's been a key priority to make sure he's a Bronco well into the future. We're thrilled to reach an agreement on this extension and look forward to Courtland's continued growth and impact for the Broncos." 

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