Patriots

Could Patrick Mahomes' injury derail Chiefs-Patriots collision course?

Could Patrick Mahomes' injury derail Chiefs-Patriots collision course?

Even after the Kansas City Chiefs lost two straight, it felt like destiny.

Motivated by last season's home loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game, Patrick Mahomes would lead his team back to the same spot for a Patriots grudge match with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

Then Mahomes attempted a quarterback sneak against the Denver Broncos on Thursday night and dislocated his right knee.

Mahomes has an MRI scheduled for Friday, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday night that Mahomes is expected to miss three weeks in the "best case."

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported a similar timetable Friday morning, noting there's "real optimism" in Kansas City that Mahomes won't miss significant time.

That's a silver lining for the Chiefs, who improved to 5-2 on Thursday night and still own the AFC's second-best record behind the 6-0 Patriots.

But Mahomes' injury couldn't have come at a worse time.

Kansas City's next two games are against the 5-1 Green Bay Packers on "Sunday Night Football" and the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings. A Week 10 road matchup with the Tennessee Titans should be winnable, but following that are a road game against the AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers and a home date with the 3-2 Oakland Raiders, who have a real chance to overtake the Chiefs for the division lead in that span.

That all leads to Kansas City's Week 14 showdown in New England.

Based on early reports, it seems feasible Mahomes could play in that matchup. But unless backup QB Matt Moore and the inconsistent Chiefs defense step up over the next several weeks, the Patriots could welcome a team fighting for a Wild Card berth rather than battling New England for the AFC's top seed.

If Mahomes returns in three weeks and the Chiefs win at least one of their games without him, a deep playoff run and rematch with the Patriots is still possible. But it's far from the inevitability it was earlier this month.

UPDATE (1 p.m. ET): It sounds like the Chiefs avoided the worst with Mahomes' injury, although he'll still miss some time, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

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Patriots now have three practice squad openings after these departures

Patriots now have three practice squad openings after these departures

The New England Patriots have some more space available on their practice squad.

The recent departures of center Tyler Gauthier and defensive back Nate Brooks have opened two new spots, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.

These moves bring the number of open spots on the Patriots practice squad to three. 

Brooks spent the last 13 weeks on the Patriots practice squad. His new head coach with the Miami Dolphins is Brian Flores, who was the Patriots' linebackers coach from 2016 through 2018. Gauthier signed with the Patriots in May as an undrafted free agent but never played in a game for New England.

Huggins was signed by the Patriots last week but was released this past weekend when the team needed to make room on the 53-man roster to add kicker Nick Folk.

Reiss also reported Tuesday that New England worked out former University of Georgia defensive back Jayson Stanley.

The Patriots play the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Week 15 matchup is their final road game of the 2019 regular season.

Here's how the Patriots can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday>>>

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NFL's latest 2020 salary cap projection is good news for Patriots

NFL's latest 2020 salary cap projection is good news for Patriots

NFL teams could have as much as $8-13 million more in salary cap space for roster building next season.

The latest projection for the 2020 salary cap was told to all 32 teams Tuesday at the December league meeting, and it could be as high as $201.2 million.

The extra cap space is a huge benefit to teams with important players to re-sign, including the New England Patriots.

The defending Super Bowl champions have several veterans to consider re-signing. The list is highlighted by quarterback Tom Brady, and it also includes safety Devin McCourty, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, special teams ace Matthew Slater, left guard Joe Thuney and linebacker Jamie Collins, among others.

The Patriots are projected to have about $49 million in cap space in 2020, according to OverTheCap.com, although that number is based on a cap of $200 million. Two of the Patriots' rivals, the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins, could have as much as $100 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.

Phil Perry's report card from Patriots' loss vs. Chiefs>>>

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