In this Dec. 8, 2019 file photo Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Houston. After each of his three touchdown throws in Denver's 38-24 win at Houston, Lock impersonated Buzz Lightyear firing his laser beam. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller, left, breaks up a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes grabs the face mask of New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, right, as he rolls out to pass in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. Mahomes was penalized on the play. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) celebrates a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Drew Lock grew up about 15 miles from Arrowhead Stadium in suburban Kansas City, and his family has bled the red and gold of the Kansas City Chiefs for just about as long as the young quarterback can remember.
They'll be trading in their usual colors for orange and blue on Sunday.
Lock will attempt to continue his dazzling rookie run when he leads the suddenly hot Denver Broncos into the stadium where he once dreamed of playing. His task? Take down the Chiefs, who are coming off a victory in New England that sealed their fourth consecutive AFC West title.
''You think about it,'' Lock said, ''that's my home. I've been there a thousand times. Nothing new about it.''
Except that he'll be the visitor in one of the NFL's hostile environments.
Making it an even more intriguing homecoming, Lock's father Andy played for Chiefs coach Andy Reid when they were both at the University of Missouri. Andy Lock was good enough to warrant some NFL attention before a leg injury near the end of his senior season caused the offensive lineman to go undrafted. He wound up signing with the New York Giants as a free agent, but he never made his mark in the NFL - he wound up becoming a successful restaurateur.
''In his heart he was really a quarterback. I used to joke with him about that,'' Reid said with a grin.
Well, his kid has turned into a heck of a quarterback.
Drew Lock became the first NFL rookie to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in his first road start when he led the Broncos (5-8) to a surprising win over the Texans last weekend. His total of 309 yards was third-best by a rookie in franchise history, giving Denver fans some hope that the organization has at long last found a franchise quarterback.
He's the seventh quarterback to start a game for the Broncos since midway through the 2017 season.
''I don't put ceilings or floors on guys. They can go as high as they want, hopefully not too low,'' Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. ''I think overall he's had a good two-week start to his career.''
The trick now is to carry it into their game against the Chiefs (9-4), who have their own superstar quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and a rapidly improving defense that caused Tom Brady and the Patriots all kinds of trouble.
The task facing Lock is daunting: The Broncos have won just three of the 17 games they have played at Arrowhead Stadium in December. John Elway won one of those games in seven tries, and a long list of other quarterbacks have struggled with the raucous crowd and often-ugly weather - snow showers are in the forecast for Sunday with temps in the 20s.
''I think it was good that we got (Lock) his first start at home so when he got his first start on the road it wasn't his overall first start,'' Fangio said. ''We have to go play another really good team this week. He's going to have to deal with the hometown stuff that you guys and they will want to write about. I feel good where he's at.''
As the Broncos visit the Chiefs, here are the things to know:
Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark has been dealing with a stomach situation the last couple of weeks that the team thought at first was just a virus. He was well enough to play against the Patriots but it flared up again, so the team sought an expert to figure out what is going on. If he's sidelined down the stretch, it would mean the Chiefs lose their best chance of consistent quarterback pressure at a crucial juncture of the season.
SPEAKING OF THE PASS RUSH
The Chiefs finally showed progress under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo during a 30-6 rout of Denver in Week 7, when their defense had nine sacks and held the Broncos to just 71 yards rushing. The Broncos need to give Lock more time than they afforded Joe Flacco if they have any hope of moving the ball against Kansas City.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF RUSH
The Chiefs hope to have Damien Williams back from a rib injury this week. He will join a running back corps that has been leaning on veteran LeSean McCoy, rookie Darwin Thompson and journeyman Spencer Ware since losing Darrel Williams to a season-ending injury. None of them have been particularly effective on the ground.
AIRING IT OUT
The biggest bright spot for the Broncos - other than Lock's emergence - has been the play of wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who is 10th in the NFL in yards-per-catch and is closing on 1,000 yards. Sutton has put up those numbers while catching passes from Lock, Flacco and Brandon Allen - not exactly the elite of the elite.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The Broncos are mathematically still alive in the playoff chase, though realistically they are trying to build some momentum for next season. And while the Chiefs have wrapped up their playoffs spot with a division title, they still harbor hopes of climbing past the Patriots to secure a first-round postseason bye.
Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown was granted bail by a Broward County judge on Friday morning at $110,000 for a felony burglary with battery charge. Brown will be monitored by GPS and be required to release his passport and guns, go through drug and alcohol testing and get a mental-health evaluation. He's facing charges of felony burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief stemming from an alleged assault of a moving-truck driver earlier this week. This isn't Brown's first run-in with the law, and all of his off-field issues virtually assure that no NFL team will take a chance on him moving forward.
Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (wrist) had surgery to fix torn ligaments in his wrist. Hughes revealed the injury after the playoff loss to the Texans in the wild-card round, and the league launched an investigation as to whether the Bills had violated the injury reporting policy since Hughes never appeared on the team's injury report with a wrist injury. Despite his wrist injury, Hughes didn't miss a game in 2019 and hasn't missed a single game since 2012. He recorded 23 total tackles (14 solo), 4.5 sacks and one fumble recovery for Buffalo's stout defense last season. Hughes should be recovered in time for training camp this summer.
Buffalo Bills DE Jerry Hughes (wrist) had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his wrist this week.
Miami Dolphins QB Josh Rosen hasn't been written off, according to general manager Chris Grier, and Grier said he saw improvement in Rosen during practice throughout the year.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Mid-week downgrades aren't good, but we still have another full week before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, so Kelce should be just fine to play in the big game against the 49ers. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (illness) returned to a full practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Although Kelce had just three catches for 30 yards in the AFC Championship against Tennessee, he busted out for 10 grabs, 134 yards and three touchdowns in the Divisional Round against Houston. Kelce was the top-scoring fantasy tight end in 2019 and could easily have a big game in the Super Bowl against San Francisco.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) is expected to turn himself in to police but hadn't done so as of the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 23, according to a public information officer for the Hollywood Police Department in Florida. 'I believe they've given him ample opportunity to turn himself in,'' Christian Lata told USA TODAY Sports. An arrest warrant was issued against Brown following an incident with a moving truck driver Tuesday, Jan. 21. 'I'm sure it's going to be within today or tomorrow, but I'm not sure exactly when,'' Lata said late Thursday afternoon. 'I would assume it would be sooner than later.''
Fantasy Spin: There's less and less reason to hold out hope of Brown finding his way onto an NFL roster and becoming fantasy relevant in 2020. Dynasty owners should be looking to move on.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman did some solo work as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder. Expect him to play in Super Bowl LIV Sunday, Feb. 2.
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones (calf) was a limited participant in practice Thursday, Jan. 23. CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) practiced in full. DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand) was removed from the injury report. S Jordan Lucas (illness) didn't practice.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis (illness) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23. LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral), DL Dee Ford (quad, hamstring) and S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) were limited. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) practiced in full.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce and the Chiefs have a long way to go until Super Bowl LIV Sunday, Feb. 2. He should be fully expected to be on the field.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson (illness) returned to a full practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has scored just one touchdown since Week 3, and he hasn't recorded 100 or more receiving yards since Week 2. He's a risky flier without a guaranteed role in the offense.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was seen running on a side field ahead of the team's practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: It appears Coleman will be able to suit up for Super Bowl LIV after dislocating his shoulder in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. He'll continue splitting work with Raheem Mostert and, to a lesser degree, Matt Breida. Any or all of the three could have a big game, but it's Mostert with the hot hand following the NFC Championship.
Houston Texans CB Gareon Conley (ankle) recently underwent a procedure to have a screw removed from his right ankle but is expected to be recovered in full for the beginning of the team's offseason workout program, according to a league source Thursday, Jan. 23.
Oakland Raiders CB Nevin Lawson signed a one-year contract extension Thursday, Jan. 23. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) is doing some running on a side field at the team's practice on Thursday. Despite sitting out of practice, Coleman appears very much in play to suit up for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2. He suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the NFC Championship win over the Packers, but Coleman has an extra week to heal up and should be good to go for the big game. He will continue to serve as a change-of-pace back for Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers.
The Atlanta Falcons plan to tender a contract to impending exclusive-rights free-agent kicker Younghoe Koo. The 25-year-old place kicker solidified the team's kicking position in the final eight games of the season, making 23 of his 26 field-goal tries and 15 of his 16 extra points. Koo went 7-for-9 on kicks from 40-49 yards and hit his only attempt of 50-plus yards. While he should enter the 2020 season as the favorite to kick for Atlanta, the Falcons will also bring in some competition to push him. With an offense that can be explosive and put up points, Koo will have some fantasy appeal if he sticks around.
Houston Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2020, said he'd be happy to stay with the team for the long-term. "Whatever coach decides to do, I'm happy. I'd be happy to stay there with Deshaun (Watson) and help win games," Tunsil said. He was traded to the Texans from the Dolphins last season and was a massive upgrade for Houston's offensive line and quarterback Deshaun Watson. It remains to be seen if the team will offer Tunsil a long-term deal, but one thing that is certain is that Tunsil's presence on Watson's blind side is great news heading into next season as the Texans look to get back to the postseason.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert gained 158 of his 220 rushing yards after contact in the NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Jan. 19. It was the most yards after contact by a running back in the postseason since 2006.
Fantasy Spin: Next up is a Chiefs run defense that surrendered 128.2 yards per game during the regular season -- seventh most in the league -- but the larger fantasy question is whether Mostert will enter 2020 as the Niners' lead back. A standout game on the Super Bowl stage surely will go a long way toward cementing that.
The Dallas Cowboys haven't had contract discussions with wide receiver Amari Cooper, but he said that he wants to be in Dallas for a long time. Cooper will become a free agent in March, but he is the team's No. 2 priority this offseason behind quarterback Dak Prescott. Despite dealing with nagging injuries for most of the season, Cooper had 79 receptions for a career-high 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns over a full season in 2019. It's hard to imagine Dallas letting him walk in free agency, and his fantasy value would remain the highest as a high-end WR1 if he stays with the Cowboys moving forward. If he goes elsewhere, Michael Gallup would become the team's No. 1 wideout.
Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr is tiring of the quarterback rumors surrounding the team -- the latest resulting from a photo taken of New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, a pending free agent, and Raiders owner Mark Davis talking at Jan. 18 UFC fight in Las Vegas. 'C'mon man, when's it going to end?' Carr asked.
Fantasy Spin: Carr, who set career highs in passing yards (4,054) and completion percentage (70.4) in 2019, is entering the third year of a five-year, $125 million contract but his release would save the Raiders $16.5 million against the 2020 salary cap. It's likely he sticks with the Raiders for another season -- the franchise's first in Las Vegas -- but he remains an up-and-down QB2 for fantasy purposes.