NFL fans will be watching the injury recovery timetable for Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes with general interest given what a dynamic player he is.
But fans of the Packers, Vikings and Bears will be paying particularly close attention to Mahomes' recovery from a dislocated right patella suffered Thursday in a win over the Broncos.
The AFC West is the conference crossover division against the NFC North this season. The Chiefs, with a healthy Mahomes, already knocked off Detroit earlier this season (the Lions were 2-0-1 at the time, and since Kansas City rallied to beat them 34-30 the Lions haven't won a game).
Kansas City's next game? At home Sunday night against the Packers. While it sounds like Mahomes is progressing nicely, head coach Andy Reid said Monday it would be a "stretch" to think the QB could return for that game.
And right after that? The Chiefs host the Vikings. Mahomes' availability is very much up in the air for that one.
"I don't think you put a timeline on this thing," Reid said. "You go off how he feels and what the doctors say and go with it."
Still, the injury was initially reported as a three- or four-week setback once an MRI was complete. The Vikings game would be about 2.5 weeks after the original injury.
I can't imagine the Chiefs are going to rush their franchise QB back from a major injury. With Kansas City sitting at 5-2 while the biggest preseason division threat Chargers are down at 2-5, it's reasonable to guess Mahomes would miss the Vikings game as well — though that's far from guaranteed.
The Chiefs are obviously more than just Mahomes, but if the Packers and Vikings both dodge the injured QB — or if he's able to return against Minnesota while missing the Packers game — it could have a big impact on the division race.
But barring any setbacks or further injuries, it's almost certain Mahomes would play Week 16 against the Bears in Chicago. That's the same week the Vikings play the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium, and it's a week before the Vikings/Bears showdown.