The Kansas City Chiefs have finally found a viable No. 1 wide receiver in rookie Rashee Rice.
In a 26-7 win in the wild-card round against the Miami Dolphins, the second-round pick out of SMU caught eight passes for 130 yards and one TD. Per ESPN Stats & Information, it was the most receiving yards by a rookie in a playoff game in team history.
Over his past seven games, the 23-year-old outpaced Miami’s Tyreek Hill, an ex-Chief. According to Doug Clawson of CBS Sports, he has more receptions (51), receiving yards (648), and first downs (29) than the five-time All-Pro.
“It’s hard to believe that he’s a rookie,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of Rice following the victory over Miami, via ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “The best part about him is he just keeps working. He’s relentless with that, and he’s got a good relationship [with quarterback Patrick Mahomes]. He’s got Pat’s respect, and he wants to do it the right way.”
The Chiefs still haven’t solved all of their offensive problems. Against the Dolphins, they went 2-for-6 in the red zone and 6-for-15 on third downs. Aside from Rice and tight end Travis Kelce, K.C.’s receiving corps only had eight receptions for 61 yards.
The Chiefs defense can account for some of these issues. Over its past three games, the unit has allowed the second-fewest points (12 PPG) in the league. It will give Mahomes and Rice more opportunities to make big plays if it keeps rolling.
Ensuring that Rice remains involved in the offense is crucial for Kansas City. It’s trying to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the 2004 New England Patriots. As of Monday, FanDuel notes the Chiefs are tied with the Buffalo Bills for the third-best Super Bowl odds (+600) behind the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.