Nov 13, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; A general overall view of the LSU Tigers logo at midfield at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LSU tabs Chiefs’ Matt House for defensive coordinator

Kansas City Chiefs linebackers coach Matt House will be taking over the role of LSU defensive coordinator under new coach Brian Kelly, the school announced Wednesday.

House, in his third season in Kansas City, has been part of two straight Super Bowl participants. The Chiefs are currently 11-4 and have clinched a sixth straight AFC West title.

Prior to joining the Chiefs, House coordinated the defense for LSU’s SEC conference mate Kentucky for two seasons (2017-18).

“Matt checks every box we’re looking for in a defensive coordinator,” Kelly said. “He’s led elite SEC defenses, recruited and developed all-conference and All-American performers at multiple positions, and garnered ample experience in both the NFL and as a coordinator at multiple collegiate stops.

“He possesses a great understanding on how to defend the type of offenses we will face each week in our conference, and his ability to put players in position to make plays aligns perfectly with the identity that we want to develop with our defense. I’m excited that he’s joining our staff as we work toward building a championship program at LSU.”

Prior to his stint at Kentucky (which included a year as linebackers coach in 2016), House previously served as defensive coordinator at Florida International (2015) and Pittsburgh (2013-14).

He’s also coached with Michigan State (his alma mater), North Carolina, the University of Buffalo, the Carolina Panthers and the St. Louis Rams over a 20-year career.

“It is an honor to join Coach Kelly’s staff at LSU,” House said in a news release. “I firmly believe in Coach Kelly’s vision and look forward to getting to work. I am confident there are many exciting times ahead for the Tiger football family. Our staff will work tirelessly to develop our young men both on and off the field as we set a championship standard.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Taco Charlton (98) reaches for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) as he scrambles in the back field during the first quarter at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs rout Steelers, secure sixth straight division title

Patrick Mahomes passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns Sunday as the Kansas City Chiefs claimed their eighth straight victory and clinched a playoff berth with their sixth consecutive AFC West title by throttling the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers 36-10.

The Chiefs (11-4), who came in allowing an average of 13.3 points a game during their winning streak, secured three takeaways and did not allow the Steelers (7-7-1) to score a touchdown until 2:54 remained.

Kansas City overcame a rash of COVID-19 inactives, including Travis Kelce, Nick Bolton and Harrison Butker.

The Chiefs scored on their first four possessions and generated 381 total yards for the game while maintaining their positioning for the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

Mahomes completed 23 of 30 passes, finding Byron Pringle for two scores. Pringle caught a team-high six passes for 75 yards. Kansas City added 127 yards rushing but lost Clyde Edwards-Helaire to a collarbone injury.

Ben Roethlisberger never got in sync with his Pittsburgh receivers, going 23 of 35 for 159 yards. Najee Harris rushed for 93 yards on 19 carries.

Andy Reid earned his 102nd victory as the Chiefs’ coach, passing Marty Schottenheimer for the second-most wins in franchise history, trailing only Hank Stram (124).

Mahomes drove the Chiefs to three first-half touchdowns and a 23-0 margin at the break. Kansas City gained 112 yards in the first quarter, using 14 plays on a methodical 73-yard drive that Edwards-Helaire capped with a 1-yard burst.

Charvarius Ward then intercepted a pass by Roethlisberger on the next play from scrimmage, and the Chiefs sailed 49 yards as Mahomes fired a 5-yard touchdown to Pringle.

An 8-yard TD strike to Mecole Hardman with 2:13 left in the half came after a 44-yard field goal by Elliott Fry. That gave the Chiefs a streak of seven straight scoring drives dating to their overtime win last week over the Los Angeles Chargers.

Mahomes passed for 205 first-half yards, while Roethlisberger countered with only 88. The Chiefs posted a 17-6 advantage in first downs for the half.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (25) runs for a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs RB Edwards-Helaire (collarbone) out vs. Steelers

Kansas City running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire departed Sunday’s home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter with a collarbone injury.

Edwards-Helaire, who scored a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter, was designated as out for the remainder of the game. He departed shortly before the Chiefs took a 30-0 lead on a touchdown drive that came when the Edwards-Helaire’s injury occurred.

Edwards-Helaire came in as the Chiefs’ leading rusher as part of their balanced ground attack. He gained 27 yards on nine carries before leaving Sunday to give him 517 rushing yards on the season with four TDs.

In two seasons with the Chiefs, the 32nd overall selection in the 2020 draft, has rushed for 1,320 yards and eight TDs, with 55 career receptions for 426 yards and three more TDs.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) warms up against the Las Vegas Raiders before the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (COVID) out Sunday

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce remains in COVID-19 protocols and will miss Sunday’s game against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, multiple outlets reported.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday.

The Chiefs (10-4) added him to the active roster Saturday in hopes that he would clear the NFL’s health and safety protocols in time to face the Steelers (7-6-1).

Kelce, 32, has 83 catches for 1,066 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games this season. Last time out, he caught the game-winning score and posted a career-best 191 yards on 10 receptions in a Week 15 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Linebacker Nick Bolton and offensive tackle Lucas Niang also were added to the active roster Saturday but failed to test out of the protocols, ESPN reported.

Other Chiefs remaining on the COVID list include kicker Harrison Butker and punter Tommy Townsend.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) warms up against the Las Vegas Raiders before the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

COVID absences affect Chiefs-Steelers matchup

Kansas City players forced to go through COVID-19 protocols this week gave the list a Pro Bowl feel.

At least that’s the impression made when a pair of 1,000-yard receivers, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, are among the players the Chiefs (10-4) hope to reinstate in time for a clash against the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1).

The game is still scheduled for Sunday at Kansas City, Mo.

“It’s a crazy thing, in motion, fluid,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of a list that grew to 13. Just one player in the group, Harrison Butker, got ruled out early in the week, leaving Kansas City to find Elliott Fry to replace Butker as kicker.

Of greater concern is the status of Kelce and Hill, go-to receivers who are adept at finding openings on both conventional routes and when Mahomes must improvise while dodging pass rushers.

Practice has not been altogether different with Mahomes throwing to less heralded receivers such as Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle and Josh Gordon. Willie Gay and Gordon each got removed Wednesday from the COVID list.

“It wasn’t too different. Throughout practices, we try to let other guys get some reps in,” Mahomes said. “We let those guys rest their legs because with Travis and Tyreek, they run so many routes on game days.”

Still, Mahomes is realistic about the threats posed by each of his go-to receivers as Kansas City attempts to maintain its positioning for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and pad its seven-game winning streak.

“There’s obviously some routes that Tyreek and Travis can run that nobody else in this world really can,” Mahomes said. Just last week, each had 100-yard performances and combined for three touchdowns, including a 34-yard game-winning grab by Travis Kelce in overtime, as the Chiefs nipped the Chargers, 34-28.

Reid’s game plan against the Steelers will have to contain some contingencies due to not having key players available. Chris Jones, Lucas Niang, Nick Bolton, Rashad Fenton and Charvarius Ward were among other starters on the COVID list when practices began leading into the Pittsburgh matchup.

“We’re OK. We’ve got plenty of bodies and guys who want to play,” Reid said. “So that’s how nothing has really changed. We plug the next person in and here we go. That’s how we’re rolling now.”

The Steelers are coming off a 19-13 win over Tennessee that kept them in a bunched playoff chase, although their tie with Detroit keeps Pittsburgh a game behind five teams with 8-6 marks, including AFC North co-leaders Cincinnati and Baltimore.

“I’m not saying we’re peaking, or close to it, but we’re winning the close games, or we’re coming back or fighting. We know that there’s a little bit of life,” said Ben Roethlisberger, who has passed for 3,214 yards while also relying on the legs of rookie Najee Harris, who has 891 yards rushing.

T.J. Watt, who has recorded a club-record 17.5 sacks, leads a defensive effort that would focus on Mahomes despite the availability of other Chiefs threats.

“His arm talent, he can extend plays. He’s very elusive,” said the Steelers’ Taco Charlton, who played for Kansas City last season. “People try to say he’s not athletic, but he can turn it on when he wants to. The offense goes as he goes.”

Pat Freiermuth (concussion) and Chris Wormley (groin) did not practice for the Steelers when they began in-week preparations for the Chiefs. Starter Devin Bush began the week on the COVID-19 list with Zach Banner and Marcus Allen.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) warms up against the Denver Broncos before the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs CB L’Jarius Sneed (personal) questionable for Sunday

The Kansas City Chiefs added cornerback L’Jarius Sneed to the injury report for personal reasons on Saturday and he is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

According to a report from KTBS TV in Louisiana, Sneed’s 32-year-old brother was stabbed to death Friday night in Minden, La.

Police there have arrested and charged Angela Washington, 47, with one count of second-degree homicide in the death of Tqarontarion Dcortez “TQ” Harrison.

Police Chief Steve Cropper told KTBS that Harrison died from a single stab wound to his back that punctured his lung. A large kitchen knife was recovered from the scene.

Sneed, 24, attended Minden High School before playing collegiately at Louisiana Tech. The Chiefs drafted him in the fourth round in 2020.

Sneed has started all 12 games this season for the Chiefs (8-4), registering 62 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) warms up against the Dallas Cowboys before the game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Defense carries streaking Chiefs into matchup with Raiders

The Kansas City Chiefs have recorded a winning streak of at least five games in nine consecutive seasons.

The suddenly hot Chiefs look to increase this season’s run to six straight when they host the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday in a pivotal AFC West matchup.

Kansas City (8-4) was viewed as an underachieving team when it was walloped 27-3 by the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 24 to fall to 3-4.

However, with their powerful offense sputtering, the Chiefs stepped it up on defense and have allowed just 11.2 points per game during the five-game streak.

The latest example was last weekend’s 22-9 win over Denver when the Broncos’ lone touchdown came in the latter half of the fourth quarter with the outcome decided.

“I still don’t think we played our best game yet,” Kansas City safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “Hopefully that game is the Super Bowl.”

Getting quarterback Patrick Mahomes untracked would help in that quest.

Mahomes has failed to throw a touchdown pass in each of the past two games and has been held under 200 passing yards twice in the past four contests. Against the Broncos, he was 15 of 29 for 184 yards and one interception.

The 22 points against Denver represented Kansas City’s second-highest output over the past six games. Also, Mahomes has thrown 12 interceptions this season, matching his career worst from 2018.

“Luckily enough, our defense is playing good enough that whenever (turnovers) happened, they’ve been able to get stops or get turnovers … and not let it impact the team,” Mahomes said Wednesday. “But you understand that turnovers are a huge part of this game.

“I’ll try to limit them as much as possible. But at the same time, I’ve just got to be me and I’ll continue to throw the football and give guys a chance to make plays.”

Perhaps the sight of the Raiders will spur on Mahomes. He notched his best all-round effort of the season when the Chiefs routed the Raiders 41-14 at Las Vegas in Week 10.

Mahomes completed 35 of 50 passes for a season-high 406 yards. He also matched a season best with five touchdown passes and wasn’t intercepted.

While the Chiefs have been ascending, the Raiders have been descending with losses in four of five games after a 5-2 start.

Las Vegas lost 17-15 to the Washington Football Team last week to mark the fourth time it was held to 16 or fewer points during the five-game stretch.

Quarterback Derek Carr had five 300-yard outings in the first seven games but has topped the figure just once during the team’s funk.

He definitely sees the need for a turnaround effort against the Chiefs.

“You can use urgency and all that, whatever. There’s a time and a place,” Carr said Wednesday. “But also you have to be smart, especially early in games. Especially against the team we’re about to play. You can’t be out there doing stupid things because their offense will make it 7-0 fast.”

Las Vegas is expected to be missing standout tight end Darren Waller (knee, back) for a second straight game. Waller didn’t practice Wednesday, and the club also placed running back Kenyan Drake (ankle) and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (ankle) on injured reserve.

One player stepping up for the Raiders is wideout Hunter Renfrow, who has 17 receptions for 236 yards over the past two games.

“Everyone’s going to say he’s a hard worker and he’s super smart, but he doesn’t get enough credit for how talented he is,” Carr said of Renfrow. “He’s also a very good football player from a talent perspective.”

Cornerback Chris Lammons (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday for Kansas City after getting injured against the Broncos. Cornerback Rashad Fenton (knee) and offensive lineman Lucas Niang (ribs) were limited. Niang has missed the past three games while Fenton sat out versus Denver.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; A view of Kansas City Chiefs players' helmets on the bench against the Washington Football Team at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs OL coach Andy Heck enters COVID protocols

Kansas City Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck entered COVID-19 protocols and will miss Sunday’s game against the visiting Denver Broncos.

Assistant offensive line coach Corey Matthaei will fill his role.

The team also announced Saturday that defensive quality control coach Alex Whittingham is also out Sunday due to protocols. His role will be absorbed by multiple members of the defensive staff.

Heck, 54, has coached the Chiefs’ offensive linemen since 2013. He held the same position with Jacksonville from 2006-12 after two years as the Jaguars’ assistant offensive line coach.

Heck was a first-round pick (15th overall) by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1989 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. He appeared in 185 games (164 starts), primarily as a left tackle, with Seattle (1989-93), Chicago (1995-98) and Washington (1999-2000).

–Field Level Media