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.
From @gmfb: The early returns are in for #Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (knee), who is expected to be out at least 3 weeks. The MRI will tell if that's all he's out, or if it's much more. pic.twitter.com/2q4Ow7cMJZ— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 18, 2019
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.
The MRI has confirmed the #Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap, but not significant additional damage, sources tell me and @JamesPalmerTV. He’ll seek additional opinions to be sure. The plan is for him to return this season after a brief absence.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 18, 2019
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