Mahomes and Kelce Benched: Chiefs’ Season Finale Against Chargers Without Star Duo

After a long week of consideration, the Chiefs elected to rest tight end Travis Kelce in Sunday’s season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers, which means the All-Pro’s quest for a record eighth straight 1,000-yard receiving season will come to an end.

Kelce entered Sunday with 93 receptions for 984 yards and five touchdowns, leaving him just 16 yards shy of reaching the 1,000-yard mark. The 34-year-old end still comfortably owns the record for consecutive seasons of 1,000 yards receiving by a tight end; Greg Olson owns the second-longest streak in league history at three seasons.

While Kelce was on the injury report this week while recovering from the stinger he suffered against New England in Week 15, it’s not injury specifically keeping Kelce out. He was not listed with an injury game-day designation on Friday’s report, and the reason he was ruled out Sunday is labeled as a coaching decision. Kelce and head coach Andy Reid made the final decision on whether he would play against the Chargers.

Joining Kelce on the sideline will be starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whom the club acknowledged Wednesday would not play against the Chargers. Blaine Gabbert will start for Kansas City with practice squad quarterback Chris Oladokun elevated from the practice squad to back him up.

The complete inactive list for the Chiefs:

  • QB Patrick Mahomes
  • TE Travis Kelce
  • WR Rashee Rice
  • CB L’Jarius Sneed
  • DE Mike Danna
  • LT Donovan Smith
  • WR Kadarius Toney

Danna is also a healthy scratch, receiving the inactive listing by virtue of his veteran status. Sneed did not practice this week as the club shut him down this week to rest his injured calf. Smith (neck) and Toney (hip/ankle) were ruled out on Friday.

Rice, who is resting with a hamstring injury and did not practice during the week, will also forgo a shot at a personal milestone. With 79 catches for 938 yards on the season, Rice sits just 62 yards away from a 1,000-yard receiving season and only 57 yards behind Dwayne Bowe, who holds the club’s rookie record for receiving yards with 995. Rice already capture the team’s record for catches by a rookie.

Running back Isiah Pacheco enters the game with 935 yards rushing, leaving him 65 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season. Defensive tackle Chris Jones has 9 1/2 sacks on the campaign and has a $1.25 million bonus for reaching 10 sacks. Both players will be active but it remains unclear if the Chiefs will let either play enough — let alone at all — to reach those marks.

The Chiefs expect to play a plethora of backups and younger players across the board on Sunday. For example, Nick Allegretti is slated to see his first NFL start at center, while guard Mike Caliendo and tackle Lucas Niang expect to play the bulk of the game as well. Veterans Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith may see limited action as the fifth offensive lineman along with starting left tackle Wanya Morris.

The Chargers will also be without four of their starters after wide receiver Keenan Allen (heel) and defensive lineman Nick Williams (shoulder) were ruled out on Friday. The team Sunday also ruled out linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (shoulder) and right guard Zion Johnson (neck).

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