KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ask any coach or player around the NFL and they are bound to tell you that the speed of the game picks up when the playoffs arrive. There is no longer time to think on the field; decisions more often are made by in-the-moment instincts rather than carefully crafted game plans.

Perhaps that is why Patrick Mahomes thrives in the postseason.

Whether it be his preponderance of no-look passes, crazy side-arm slings or the myriad other ways that the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback sparks creativity on the field, there is arguably no better player in the NFL when it comes to playing sandlot football. His ability to make something out of nothing leaves teammates and foes alike shaking their heads.

“My family or friends are like, `Oh my God, how’s Patrick Mahomes?’ And I’m like, ‘He’s just a special individual,” said Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, whose career has been rejuvenated during his first season playing with him.

“It’s just like playing `Madden’ back when you had Michael Vick, who can just run all over the field and then launch it 80 yards down the field,” Smith-Schuster explained. “It’s kind of like that but for more it’s ILR – in real life.”

What has become known simply as Mahomes Magic around Kansas City tends to shine brightest this time of year, and the results are downright incredible: He has never failed to reach the AFC championship game in four years as a starter, twice going to the Super Bowl and once winning its MVP award while ending the franchise’s 50-year title drought.


He will try to improve to 5-0 in the divisional round on Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I think all the guys understood that whenever they signed with this team that we want to win the Super Bowl. And if we don’t, we feel like it’s not where we should be,” Mahomes said. “But you can’t look ahead. We have a great team that we’re playing this week, that’s playing great football, so how can we practice today so that we’re better by the end of the week? And I think you have to have that mindset – and I think the guys do – and I think we’re in a good spot.”

COWBOYS: The Dallas Cowboys signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino to the practice squad, adding an option in case Brett Maher’s wild-card meltdown lingers into practice this week.

Maher missed his first four extra points in the 31-14 victory over Tampa Bay, an NFL first in the regular season or playoffs. He made the fifth to end a streak of five consecutive botched PATs going back to the regular-season finale against Washington.

SENIOR BOWL: Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will serve as Senior Bowl head coaches.

The Senior Bowl said Getsy will coach the American team and Graham the National team in the Feb. 4 showcase game for senior and graduate NFL prospects.


The Bears have the top overall pick in April’s draft, and the Raiders own the No. 7 selection.

PANTHERS: The Carolina Panthers interviewed Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero for their head coaching position, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Evero spent last season as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator. When Nathaniel Hackett was fired as Denver’s coach, Evero had been pegged as the interim head coach but instead decided to remain as coordinator.

Among those who’ve already interviewed for the job in Carolina are former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell, former Colts coach Frank Reich, Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and interim Panthers head coach Steve Wilks.

The candidates the Panthers have received permission to interview but have not yet talked to include former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo have withdrawn their name from consideration.


BRONCOS: The Denver Broncos have two more interviews lined up for their vacant head coaching position: defensive coordinators DeMeco Ryans of the 49ers and Dan Quinn of the Cowboys.

Team owner Greg Penner and GM George Paton will meet with Ryans on Thursday and Quinn on Friday.

SEAHAWKS: The Seattle Seahawks locked up one of their potential free agents, signing Pro Bowl kicker Jason Myers to a four-year contract.

Myers is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in which he made 34 of 37 field-goal attempts, led the NFL in scoring with 143 points and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career.

Myers would have been an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts in March.

A person with knowledge of the deal says the contract is worth $21.1 million and could increase to $22.6 million with incentives.

The contract makes Myers the second-highest paid kicker in the NFL behind Baltimore’s Justin Tucker.

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