The Kansas City Chiefs have had a successful season, winning nine of their 15 first games and wrapping up the AFC West crown. The Chiefs are locked into the No. 4 seed for the AFC playoffs no matter what happens during their regular-season finale against the Broncos, so the team is going to use the opportunity to get a quick look at its future.
According to head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs will start rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes in place of Alex Smith against the Broncos.
Patrick Mahomes will start on Sunday against the Broncos, per Andy Reid.— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) December 27, 2017
The Chiefs traded up from No. 27 to No. 10 in order to select Mahomes in the 2017 draft. Mahomes threw 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during his final year at Texas Tech and was considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the draft. Of the three quarterbacks selected in the first round, Mahomes is the only one yet to make a start this season. (Mitchell Trubisky relieved Mike Glennon early in the season for the Bears, while Deshaun Watson overtook Tom Savage at halftime of the Texans' first game of the season and became a massive star before tearing his ACL in practice.)
Mahomes is generally considered the Chiefs' quarterback of the future, and there was even a thought that he might overtake Smith this season. Smith, however, has had the most productive year of his career and has put off Mahomes' ascension to full-time starter for at least a year. The team can still elect to cut ties with him after the season, saving $17 million against next year's cap in the process. Next year is the final year of Smith's contract anyway, but the Chiefs may decide they are better off paying him $3.6 million to play elsewhere than $20.6 million to stick around when they have a young quarterback like Mahomes waiting in the wings.
Whenever Mahomes does become the team's starter, he has an excellent infrastructure in place around him with Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, an outstanding offensive line, and one of the league's most creative offensive minds in Andy Reid.