Mahomes, Flacco, McCaffrey among NFL stars ruled out in Week 18

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks for an open receiver in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Photo by Jon Robichaud/UPI

1 of 5 | Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks for an open receiver in the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Photo by Jon Robichaud/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 3 (UPI) — Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Joe Flacco and running back Christian McCaffrey are among the key NFL players who won’t play in Week 18, as their teams already clinched playoff berths.

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters Wednesday that Mahomes will not play against the Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.

The Chiefs (10-6) already won their division and clinched the No. 3 seed in the AFC, meaning that they can rest Mahomes and other players to avoid potential injuries. Reid said backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert will start against the Chargers.

“Pat won’t play,” Reid said. “Blaine will take over at that spot. We will rotate the other guys in at that spot [at practice].”

Reid did not say if tight end Travis Kelce will play. Kelce needs 16 more yards to secure 1,000 for the eighth-consecutive season. He is seven catches shy of 100 for the fourth time of his career.

Mahomes, who leads the NFL with 401 completions and 597 attempts, will end his season with 4,183 passing yards, 27 scores and 14 interceptions. He completed a career-best 67.2% of his throws.

The Chargers will host the Chiefs at 4:25 p.m. EST Sunday in Inglewood.

Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski also told reporters Wednesday that Flacco will not start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals (8-8).

“We are going to use this opportunity to rest some guys,” Stefanski said. “I feel like we earned that opportunity with how we took care of business the previous week.”

Stefanski said Jeff Driskel will start at quarterback. P.J. Walker will be the second-string option in Week 18. The Browns coach hinted that several other star players, including Myles Garrett, could be rested to avoid injury.

The Browns (11-5) already clinched a wild-card playoff berth. Flacco, who joined the team in November, threw multiple touchdown passes in each of his five starts this season for the Browns. He totaled more than 300 passing yards in each of his last four appearances.

Flacco posted a 4-1 record as the Browns starting quarterback, with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Browns will play the Bengals at 1 p.m. Sunday in Cincinnati.

San Francisco 49ers coach said Monday that star running back Christian McCaffrey will not play in Week 18. McCaffrey sustained a strain in his right calf in Week 17. The 49ers (12-4) already clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

They will host the Los Angeles Rams (9-7) at 4:25 p.m. EST Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif.

The Baltimore Ravens (13-3) also clinched a first-round bye in Week 17, as the top seed in the AFC. Ravens coach John Harbaugh declined to tell reporters if quarterback Lamar Jackson and other top players will participate in their Week 18 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7).

“I have not made a decision on any personnel yet,” Harbaugh said. “We have to work through the injury part of it first. That will take us 24 to 48 hours to get a handle on that. Then we will make those decisions.

“We are not going to keep it a secret. We will let you know once we start practicing.”

The Detroit Lions also clinched a playoff berth and won the NFC South. Lions coach Dan Campbell told reporters Monday that he will not rest any of his starters.

“We’re gonna use our full arsenal and go win this game,” Campbell said. “You know that’s the objective here.”

The Lions (11-5) will host the Minnesota Vikings (7-9) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Detroit.

Four of the AFC’s seven playoff spots are clinched. Five teams clinched playoff berths in the NFC.

The Ravens will host the Steelers in the Week 18 opener at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Baltimore.

Joe Burrow, $55 million

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow looks to pass against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland on September 10, 2023. Burrow, who makes $55 million a year, signed a 5-year, $275 million contract extension last off-season. He sustained a season-ending wrist injury November 13, 2023, in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo


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