Dec. 31—The Kansas City Chiefs' and the NFL's regular season is winding down as Week 17 kicked off with a Cowboys win over the Titans on Thursday, meanwhile the Chiefs are preparing to face the Denver Broncos for the second time in less than a month this Sunday.
Kansas City defeated the Broncos 34-28 last time out, but Denver has since fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett after a 51-14 rout at the hands of the L.A. Rams on Christmas Day, not even completing his first full season with the team.
Patrick Mahomes helped let the Broncos back into that Week 14 game with three interceptions, two of which turned into touchdowns, something he and the team will be looking to avoid this time.
The Chiefs will again be without wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who has been out since Week 9, after he suffered a setback in his return from his abdominal injury earlier this week. Head coach Andy Reid downplayed his concern about Hardman's injury at a press conference on Friday.
"I'm not that worried about it," Reid said. "I think as long as he's progressing and trying to work to get better here, we'll be okay. If he can't, he can't do it. And we move on and keep going with the guys we've got."
Hardman has 328 total yards and six total touchdowns in eight games this season, which is a contract year for the 24-year-old Georgia product. Hardman's 21 day practice window to return from injured reserve closes Wednesday, Jan. 4; if he is not promoted to the active 53-man roster by then, he will go back on injured reserve, ending his season.
Elsewhere, Kansas City will be hoping for a Buffalo Bills loss against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, which would leave the door open for the Chiefs to secure the one seed in the AFC and a first round bye in the playoffs. The Chiefs and Broncos kick off at noon on Sunday, New Year's Day on CBS.
Joe Patrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.