Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs can survive without Sammy Watkins until the playoffs

Sammy Watkins is expected to be out another 4-6 weeks, but the Kansas City Chiefs’ high-powered offense should not suffer.

The Kansas City Chiefs ponied up to pay wide receiver Sammy Watkins last offseason, with a three-year, $48 million contract ($30 million guaranteed). He’s had some good moments this season, but a lingering foot problem has kept him out essentially since Week 10. His status for Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens was unclear, but now Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star has reported a setback and Watkins will be out 4-6 weeks.

The Chiefs signed Kelvin Benjamin on Thursday, after he was released by the Buffalo Bills and cleared waivers. He’s simply a body to fill the depth chart though, and Chris Conley will now officially step into a more prominent role. Over the last two games, Conley has 10 catches on 15 targets with three touchdowns.

Watkins has essentially missed the last three games, outside of a token start and a few snaps against the Los Angeles Rams (his former team) in Week 11. In those last two games the Chiefs have scored 44 and 40 offensive points, with 546 yards and 469 yards of offense respectively.

Next Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers will be a big one, and the Chiefs would sweep the season series while putting themselves in line to win the AFC West with a victory. At this point, they also have the inside track on a first-round playoff bye.

If Watkins was not going to play again this week, and a limited practice on Thursday indicated just that, it seems certain he would not have been able to return on a short week against the Chargers. So his earliest return would have quickly become Week 16, against the Seattle Seahawks on the road.

Watkins is third on the Chiefs, and substantially so, in catches (40), receiving yards (519) and targets (55) so far this season. Running back Kareem Hunt is now gone too, but it’s safe to say the league’s top scoring offense, which also sits third in total yardage, can survive without Watkins as it has had to in recent weeks.

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Five weeks from today is Divisional Round week, and right in the middle of Watkins’ new timetable to return. As long as he is ready to go and at full strength by then, nothing else really matters for the Chiefs as they look to get over a long-term playoff hump.

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