Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes has work to do, even if he sits Sunday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Travis Kelce looked ready for a week at the beach after the Kansas City Chiefs claimed another narrow victory on Sunday, this one against the Atlanta Falcons. He was nursing the usual bumps and bruises that come from having to play a full 60 minutes.

He won't get that vacation, at least not until the Chiefs' season is finished. But after 14-1 Kansas City secured the AFC's top playoff seed and only first-round postseason bye, Kelce has some downtime ahead.

He sounded like someone looking forward to the prospect.

"To be able to get a week off or a week of preparation, a week of really locking in and getting the body right that late in the season is so key, and it's much-needed if you want to really make that playoff push and that's what you work your tail off for all season," Kelce said. "I'm just proud to be a part of this team, to be able to do it yet again this year.”

The Chiefs finish the regular season Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox), and Kelce, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a few of Kansas City's other top players might get a bye before the team's bye.

The game is meaningless -- the Chiefs have clinched a fifth straight AFC West championship in addition to the top seed -- so there's no incentive for them to put top players in harm's way against the Chargers.

Coach Andy Reid said some starters would sit, but he wasn't specific other than to say there was a good chance Chad Henne would replace Mahomes at some point during the game, perhaps at its start.

Kansas City had a similar situation previously in two other seasons under Reid. In 2013 and 2017, it went into its final regular-season games having clinched a playoff spot but unable to improve its seed by winning.

So Reid decided to rest some of the Chiefs' top players in each of those games. The difference is that this year they have a first-round playoff bye. They didn't in 2013 and 2017, so that could give Reid more pause in resting players such as Mahomes and Kelce.

"I'm just going to come in on Wednesday and get ready to work," Kelce said. "If I end up suiting up and I get a chance to play against the Chargers, then you'll see me out there giving it my all. And if not, then I'll be out there cheering on my guys and trying to be every bit a part of the game that I can be for the guys.”

If Mahomes, Kelce and other leading players are done for the regular season, the Chiefs aren't heading into the postseason at their best. They've won 10 straight games, but each of the past seven wins was by six or fewer points. That's an NFL record.

Kansas City had its lowest-scoring game of the year in beating Atlanta 17-14 on Sunday. The Chiefs committed five turnovers in their first eight games, but 10 in the past seven.

So even if Mahomes, Kelce and other top players aren't in the lineup against the Chargers, the Chiefs have some things to work on during practice.

"I've got to focus on fixing the things I made mistakes on during the game," said Mahomes, who threw an interception against the Falcons, his fourth in the past three games. "There was a lot of reads, a lot of protection calls, a lot of adjustments at the line of scrimmage that I made wrong or that I didn't make the right way that put us in bad positions and so I've got to focus on getting myself better to help out the team.

"[The Falcons] have a lot of great players over there. They have a ton of talent. They've been in close games every single game this year, pretty much. Definitely they did some stuff that was some good stuff, but there was stuff that I didn't see that I usually do, and so there was some times that I was [under pressure] in the game because I didn't slide the line the right way. There were some times I checked to certain plays and they weren't open, and so you got to be better if you want to win football games in this league."