Ryan Fitzpatrick has retired, former Buffalo Bills team-mate Fred Jackson revealed on Thursday.

The 39-year-old quarterback played on nine teams in 17 seasons, although his 2021 campaign was ended by a Week 1 hip injury that ruled him out for the year.

Fitzpatrick had only signed a one-year deal with the Washington Commanders – then the Washington Football Team – and he will not return.

Jackson, a team-mate in Buffalo for four seasons, shared a text from Fitzpatrick, who said: "Forever grateful for the magical ride."

That message was posted on Twitter, with Jackson adding: "Congrats on a helluva career, Fitzy!! Loved sharing the field with you!! The gratitude is all mine!!"

Fitzpatrick finishes with 34,990 passing yards, ranking 32nd all time, although he never appeared in a single playoff game.

The reigning Super Bowl champions will kick off the NFL season in Thursday night's primetime slot on September 8, as the Los Angeles Rams host this season's Super Bowl favourites, the Buffalo Bills.

There will be plenty of the Rams in this season's marquee timeslots as the full 2022-23 schedule was released on Thursday, including a Monday night fixture against the Green Bay Packers in week 15, and a Christmas Day game against Russell Wilson's Denver Broncos six days later.

The Broncos will not have to wait long for their first eyebrow-raising matchup, travelling to take on Wilson's former team, the Seattle Seahawks, in the first Monday night fixture of the season.

Week one's third primetime game sees Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading to 'Jerry World' to take on the Dallas Cowboys.

Patrick Mahomes – the man with the richest contract in the sport – will get his first primetime appearance of the season in week two's Thursday night showdown, as his Kansas City Chiefs host arguably Mahomes' only competition for best young quarterback, taking on Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers gets the Sunday night fixture in week two against the Packers' long-time rivals as the Chicago Bears come to town, and his week three matchup against Brady's Bucs will be must-see TV.

The Rams have the toughest strength-of-schedule based on their opponents' 2021-22 records (164-125, .567 winning percentage), while the Cowboys and the Washington Commanders are tied for the easiest schedule (133-155-1, .462 winning percentage).

Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions will be the only team in NFL this season to not have a primetime game.

The complete week one schedule features:

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams (Thursday night)

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday afternoon)

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans 

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (Sunday late-afternoon)

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers 

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (Monday night)

The Buffalo Bills made one of the most highly anticipated selections of day three of the 2022 NFL Draft, picking up punter Matt Araiza.

Known affectionately as the 'Punt God', Araiza became an internet sensation during his college career at San Diego State as he continually used his booming left leg to flip the field position battle.

He had 18 punts of 60-plus yards last season, as well as a pair of 80-plus punts. In college football in the 21st century, there have been just 10 punts of 80 yards or more.

However, Araiza saw two punters, Penn State's Jordan Stout and Georgia's Jake Camarda, picked ahead of him as they each went in the fourth round.

And, after being selected 180th overall, he will now play for a team that is not used to punting.

The Bills punted only 53 times last season, the sixth-lowest total in the NFL.

Given Araiza's track record, the Bills may be happier to do so in 2022.

The NFL Draft is rarely dominated by teams in contention to lift the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the upcoming season.

Though trades regularly shuffle the pack, more often than not the draft headlines are made by teams who finished at the wrong end of the regular-season standings in the previous campaign, such is the nature of league's annual selection meeting.

While those franchises with rosters capable of contending to go all the way to the Super Bowl may not be as reliant on the draft as those rebuilding their teams, the selections they make can be critical in providing the potential final piece of what they hope will be a championship-winning puzzle.

Inevitably, not every team expected to contend in April will do so once the season gets under way in September.

Yet we can make educated guesses as to which teams will be in the mix to go deep into the postseason in each conference.

Here Stats Perform has identified four such teams from each conference, with the Cleveland Browns omitted from the list due to the threat of a possible suspension for new starting quarterback Deshaun Watson.

With help from some advanced metrics, we look at what each of these eight teams need to add in the draft to maximise their hopes of standing underneath the confetti in Arizona next February.

NFC

Los Angeles Rams

Identifying draft needs for the Rams is a difficult task not because they don't have any, but because they so often fill their holes by trading away their picks to land superstars.

This year, the Rams don't pick until 104 overall in the third round, not that the Super Bowl champions will mind skipping the first two rounds.

When it finally comes to their turn, the interior of the offensive line stands out as an area of weakness, while the Rams might also be eyeing an edge rusher to help fill the void left by Von Miller, whose stunt-adjusted pass rush win percentage of 43.4 was fifth among edge rushers with at least 100 one-on-one matchups last year.

San Francisco 49ers

The Niners are in a similar position to the Rams in that they don't have a lot of needs, though the urgency is greater for a team that let a fourth-quarter lead slip against Los Angeles in the NFC Championship Game.

Right guard has been a long-standing issue for San Francisco, and the Niners will also need to find a developmental center to replace Alex Mack when he eventually retires. Nebraska's Cam Jurgens is a name to watch there.

San Francisco do not pick until 61st overall in the second round, having traded this year's first-rounder in the package that landed Trey Lance. A defense that ranked first in pass rush win rate could be stacked further by another edge rusher to pair with Nick Bosa, and there is a clear need next to Jimmie Ward at safety.

Of course, what would really make it a successful draft for the Niners would be finally trading Jimmy Garoppolo to secure more picks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There's a theme here, and the theme is that trying to find needs for NFC contenders is tough, especially in the case of the Bucs, who brought back Tom Brady after he quickly got bored with retirement and re-signed a host of free agents many expected to depart.

With Todd Bowles assuming the head coaching reins from Bruce Arians, it's fair to anticipate a focus on the defense from the Bucs, who own the 27th pick in the first round as well as two other top-100 selections.

More beef on the interior of the defensive line is required with Ndamukong Suh as yet not re-signed and, though Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal have signed as safety help to atone for Jordan Whitehead's departure, a rookie who can make a difference down in the box and in coverage would be a welcome addition to the defense.

Green Bay Packers

Now this is more like it. The Packers have one glaring, obvious need and there's no way they can fail to address it, right?

Brian Gutekunst may have a history of eschewing first-round wide receivers but, after trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, it would be an extremely bemusing move to risk Aaron Rodgers' wrath and do so again.

Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, Treylon Burks, Jahan Dotson... they all must be in the mix here and, with two selections in the first round, the Packers could even double up at the position.

There are other holes. The secondary could use some more quality depth, and an offensive line that ranked 28th in run-block win rate could also be improved, but the Packers' hopes of getting over the hump in 2022 likely rest on their ability to give Rodgers weapons that mitigate the impact of Adams' stunning departure.

AFC

Kansas City Chiefs

After Patrick Mahomes faced the most pressures in a Super Bowl since 2006 in consecutive years (28 in SB LIV, 34 in SB LV), the Chiefs overhauled their offensive line heading into 2021 and were confident they were on course for the title game once again – only for Mahomes' own stunning playoff collapse to end both the team's season and the career of Tyreek Hill in Kansas City.

Hill's departure in a trade to the Miami Dolphins leaves a gaping hole.

New signing Marquez Valdes-Scantling at least offers a downfield option, but that was his sole responsibility with the Packers in 2021, recording a league-high average depth of target of 17.6 yards but making just 26 catches. Valdes-Scantling and fellow recruit JuJu Smith-Schuster, who's coming off shoulder surgery, have just one 1,000-yard season between them; Hill has four.

Thankfully, the Hill deal means the Chiefs have plenty of draft picks – two in each of the first three rounds – and plenty of options at wide receiver, but safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Charvarius Ward must also be replaced just to get Kansas City back to where they started.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are a year behind the Chiefs, beaten in the Super Bowl after leaving their quarterback horribly exposed. Joe Burrow faced 23 pressures against the Rams, tied for third-most since 2006.

Like the Chiefs, they quickly set about bolstering their O line in free agency, though there remains a pressing need at left guard. Ted Karras played there for the New England Patriots last year, but is set to move back into center after Trey Hopkins was cut.

That versatility at least gives the Bengals options at either position depending on how the draft plays out, with their first pick not until the end of the first round (31). In fact, given competition at cornerback, edge and/or tight end could also be sought, the Bengals may be flexible throughout.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are the Super Bowl favourites, and with good reason. They were a coin flip away from beating the Chiefs and would have backed themselves against the Bengals, which might have quelled some of the optimism in Cincinnati channelled above. Buffalo have also added Super Bowl champion Miller to a defense that gave up a league-low 4.57 yards per play.

That's not to say there don't remain areas for improvement, with cornerback an obvious place to start. Tre'Davious White is returning from an ACL tear, and the Bills need a new man opposite him, given the loss of Levi Wallace.

The Bills might also be advised to ease the burden on all-action quarterback Josh Allen with the addition of a reliable running back. Allen ranked third among QBs for rushing yards in 2021 (763) but accounted for 34.5 per cent of his team's total – far and away the greatest share at his position.

Second on the list was former MVP Lamar Jackson (767 yards, 30.9 per cent), who's already showing signs of wear and tear having been tasked with running the Baltimore Ravens' offense.

Los Angeles Chargers

Outside the Packers, the Chargers perhaps have the most obvious positional need of any contender at right tackle – despite their own strong signings so far.

Left tackle Rashawn Slater was their first-round pick in 2021 and earned Pro Bowl recognition in his rookie season. Among offensive tackles with 200 or more pass protection snaps, Slater's stunt-adjusted win percentage of 90.5 ranked third. However, that stood in complete contrast to right tackle Storm Norton, whose 63.0 per cent ranked third-last.

Norton was brought in to play 15 games after a back injury put Bryan Bulaga on injured reserve. Bulaga has now been cut, and the Chargers surely cannot run it back with Norton.

The very best OTs in the draft are unlikely to still be available when the Chargers get to work in the middle of the first round, but it's no surprise to see them widely linked with Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning.

Stefon Diggs has become the latest elite wide receiver to agree lucrative new terms, after he signed a contract extension to keep him with the Buffalo Bills.

A dramatic offseason so far has seen big names in Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill leave Super Bowl contenders to earn big contracts elsewhere.

But in a significant boost to the Bills' own title hopes, Diggs is staying in Buffalo, where he is now under contract for another six years.

With two seasons remaining on his existing deal, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Diggs has agreed to a four-year, $104million extension – including $70m guaranteed.

Schefter added there is "intent from both sides to have him retire in Buffalo". Diggs will be 34 at the end of his contract.

Diggs was acquired from the Minnesota Vikings ahead of the 2020 season in a trade that saw picks including the first-round selection that became Justin Jefferson going the other way.

Jefferson has excelled in Minnesota, but the Bills also got good value in Diggs, who hit the ground running with 127 catches for 1,535 yards and eight touchdowns in his first season on the team. He added 20 catches for 311 yards and two TDs in the playoffs.

In 2021, Diggs enjoyed a fourth consecutive 1,000-yard regular season (1,225) and had a career-high 10 TDs.

As quarterback Josh Allen's primary offensive weapon last year, Diggs registered a burn – where a receiver wins his matchup against a defender – on 68.8 per cent of his targets, seventh-best among wide receivers with 50 or more targets.

Across two seasons with the Bills, no player in the NFL has been targeted more often than Diggs (330), who ranks third in that time for catches (230), fourth for receiving yards (2,760) – Jefferson (3,016) is first – and tied eighth for receiving scores (18).

The Buffalo Bills have decided to match the offer sheet offensive lineman Ryan Bates signed with the Chicago Bears.

AFC East champions the Bills had until Tuesday to decide whether they would ensure they kept the restricted free agent.

To do so, they had to match the Bears' four-year contract offer, which reportedly includes two fully guaranteed years at the start of the deal.

Guard Bates, who also had free-agent visits with the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots, will now remain with the Bills.

The 25-year-old joined Buffalo in a 2019 trade from the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We have kind of pondered that and worked through it – obviously we are tight on the cap, but we are going to bring Ryan back," Bills general manager Brandon Beane confirmed.

"It's really important for us to be strong up front, both lines. Ryan's a versatile player. He can actually play all five spots, but most importantly, he's been a center, guard he's filled in.

"We thought when he had his opportunity this year, he did a heck of a job starting the last four regular-season games and then the two postseason games. 

"It didn't seem too big for him. You want to keep as many of those key pieces, he knows our system. He obviously knows [quarterback] Josh Allen."

Bears GM Ryan Poles was frustrated, saying: "I just found that out. 

"It stinks. But that's part of the RFA process. So we'll adjust and we'll keep adding players. It's out of your control."

The Bills, who are rated as the early Super Bowl favourites, also brought back offensive lineman Ike Boettger after agreeing a one-year deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin feels lucky to add an asset as valuable as new senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores.

Flores was fired from his role as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in January following the franchise's first back-to-back winning seasons since 2003, finishing 10-6 in 2020 and 9-8 in 2021.

During the fallout of his stint in Miami, Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL, the Dolphins, Denver Broncos and New York Giants.

In it, he accused the Broncos and Giants of flawed hiring processes, alleging the two franchises only offered interviews to comply with the league's 'Rooney Rule', which requires teams to interview candidates of colour for head coaching and senior operation vacancies.

The class action brought by Flores alleged the NFL "remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of black head coaches, coordinators and general managers".

Flores also alleged he was offered $100,000 per loss by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in 2019 in an effort to secure a better draft position.

All parties have strenuously denied Flores' allegations.

Flores was confirmed as the Steelers' new defensive assistant and linebackers coach last month, and Tomlin acknowledged that his decision to offer him a role was partly influenced by a desire to ensure he was not exiled from the league.

"I just didn't want him to feel like he was on an island," he told reporters on Sunday. 

"From a coaching fraternity standpoint, I owed him that. I was in position to provide that. I think that started our interactions and conversations.

"Over the course of those discussions, particularly when it became evident he was not going to get a head job, then I think the natural discussion began. 

"It really ran its course rather quickly, to be quite honest with you, because it doesn't require a lot of time to come to the realisation that you can use a Brian Flores on your staff."

Tomlin believes Flores will bring a level of experience that will help shape decision-making on every level.

"Senior defensive assistant and linebacker coach is his title, but there's help that he's going to help us and help me, in particular," he added. 

"I love sharpening my sword on his and gaining a perspective that his experiences provide, that wise counsel.

"We're talking about a myriad of things. Whether it's calendar, whether it's taking care of players, whether it's the acquisition or evaluation of talent, it's been fun to have him. His contributions are going to be significant."

The Buffalo Bills have brought in running back Duke Johnson and wide receiver Jamison Crowder.

AFC East winners the Bills, who have been rated as the early Super Bowl favourites for 2022, continue to be active in free agency.

Having previously brought in star pass-rusher Von Miller, they added Johnson after missing out on the signing of J.D. McKissic to the Washington Commanders.

Pass-catching RB Johnson signed a one-year deal which has now been confirmed by his agents.

He has spent time with the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins in recent seasons but is best known for a four-year stint with the Cleveland Browns to start his NFL career.

Crowder, meanwhile, has been productive when healthy over recent seasons despite playing for the struggling New York Jets in the same division as the Bills.

The wideout has reportedly signed a one-year deal worth up to $4million, helping to fill the void left by Cole Beasley's recent release.

Crowder racked up 188 catches over the last three seasons despite missing nine games through injury.

Elsewhere, Buffalo's rivals for AFC supremacy the Kansas City Chiefs have signed wide receiver Corey Coleman.

A former first-round pick with the Browns, Coleman has not caught a pass since 2018, but the Chiefs have opted to take a flyer on the Baylor product, who was not on an active roster last season.

Fresh from their dramatic moves at the quarterback position, the Atlanta Falcons have remained active.

As well as confirming their previously reported re-signing of offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson, they added free agent pass rusher Lorenzo Carter, formerly of the New York Giants, on a one-year contract.

After signing a six-year, $120million deal with the Buffalo Bills, future Hall-of-Fame edge rusher Von Miller said it was far from an easy decision.

Miller finished 2021 with 9.5 sacks for the Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Rams, racking up five for Los Angeles in the final four games of the regular season.

His strong play down the stretch carried into the Rams' triumphant postseason, Miller registering a sack in the wins over the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before sacking Joe Burrow twice in their victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

He finished the season fifth among edge rushers with at least 100 one-on-one matchups with a stunt-adjusted pass rush win rate of 43.40, according to Stats Perform data.

When reflecting about his free agency, Miller said he was surprised with how difficult the decision was.

"I wasn't expecting it to be like that," Miller told reporters. "I was expecting you win the Super Bowl, you got your offers out here, where do you want to go, pick, go back to the Rams. But it was tough man, it came down to the very end.

"I feel like I let [the Rams] down – I feel like I'm breaking up with my girlfriend. That's just me and the way I go about my business. 

"But this was the one time in my life where I had to make a decision for me. I saw what makes Aaron Donald Aaron Donald, and it was hard to walk away from that.

"The only way you can walk away from that is to walk into something special. And what they're doing here is extremely special. 

"[The Bills are] gonna win a Super Bowl with or without me. They've built an amazing team."

After four uneven years as starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears and one year as a backup for the Buffalo Bills, Mitch Trubisky was ready for a new start.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers came calling, Trubisky knew that was exactly where he wanted to play.

"My goal through free agency was to find a way to get back on the field," the 27-year-old Trubisky said on Thursday, shortly after his two-year, $14 million deal with Pittsburgh became official.

"When an opportunity arose to play for coach [Mike] Tomlin and wear a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform, I was so excited. Now I'm ready to roll and get to it."

The second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft by the Bears, Trubisky's career never quite took off in Chicago.

He helped the Bears to playoff berths in 2018 and '20 and was reportedly well liked among his teammates, but he was never viewed as being a dangerous downfield passer. Among 41 QBs with at least 600 pass attempts from 2017-20, he ranked 24th in completion percentage (64.0), 29th in passer rating (87.2) and 35th in yards per attempt (6.73).

Part of the reason for his lack of success, however, also stems from an offense that failed to take shape under former Bears coach Matt Nagy.

Trubisky spent this past season as Josh Allen's backup in Buffalo and credits his time there as crucial in recognising the type of organisation he wanted to be a part of.

"I think I learned a lot," he said. "I was in a great organisation and the first thing that I really learned when [I got] to Buffalo is what a great culture feels like, and I already feel like that here, already in my short time in Pittsburgh.

"Culture wins. I could tell when I was in Buffalo, and I can tell it's going to be a great fit here with the culture. I'm excited to contribute to that. It was a huge year for me in Buffalo, just to take a reset and get my mind right and continue to hone my skills and just get ready for the next opportunity."

He joins a Steelers team steeped in tradition and one with an opening at quarterback following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.

During his 18-year career with the Steelers, Roethlisberger led the franchise to a pair of Super Bowl championships, eight AFC North Division titles and 12 playoff berths.

"They didn't really have to make a pitch to me or sell me on anything," Trubisky said. "This is where I wanted to be, play for coach Tomlin, be a part of the rich Pittsburgh Steelers history and contribute to that.”

Trubisky still must prove he is capable of being Roethlisberger’s heir apparent, however.

General manager Kevin Colbert has said before the team is comfortable going forward with Mason Rudolph, who has gone 5-4-1 in 10 starts for the Steelers since being selected in the third round of the 2018 draft.

Trubisky, though, is confident he has the skill set to win the job and earn the trust of his teammates.

"I'm in a situation where I have to prove myself back on the field," he said. "That's what I'm looking forward to doing. You're always betting on yourself in that sense, and I definitely am in this case.

"You've got to bet on yourself and trust what you're capable of."

Two-time Super Bowl-winning edge rusher Von Miller has signed with the Buffalo Bills in a deal worth a maximum of $120million over six years.

According to reports, Miller is guaranteed $45m at signing, with the contract including $51.5m in total guarantees.

Miller, 33, was widely tipped to return to the Los Angeles Rams after joining the team in a mid-season trade and helping them win their first Super Bowl since returning from St Louis.

Instead, he signed what stands as the fifth-largest contract for a defensive player by total value.

Miller is a seven-time All-Pro, a Super Bowl MVP and a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

He is coming off a season in which he reaffirmed his undoubted prowess as one of the league's premier edge rushers.

Miller finished 2021 with 9.5 sacks for the Denver Broncos and the Rams, racking up five for Los Angeles in the final four games of the regular season.

His strong play down the stretch carried into the Rams' triumphant postseason, Miller registering a sack in the wins over the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before sacking Joe Burrow twice in their victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

He finished the season fifth among edge rushers with at least 100 one on one matchups with a stunt-adjusted pass rush win rate of 43.40, according to Stats Perform data.

While Miller is still at the top of his game, the Bills also made a move to reinvigorate the career of a player on the offensive side of the ball, signing tight end O.J. Howard on a one-year deal.

A first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017, Howard has played an extremely limited role in the Bucs' recent success, tallying just 25 catches in the last two seasons.

Having averaged 16.6 yards per reception across his first two seasons in the league, the Bills will hope they can help him recapture that explosive early form and provide yet more support for quarterback Josh Allen after their phenomenal offensive performance in a memorable overtime shootout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The Cincinnati Bengals will hope the NFL has no reason to fine Tyreek Hill for celebrating once Sunday's AFC Championship Game with the Kansas City Chiefs is in the books.

Hill was not flagged for flashing the peace sign at a collection of Buffalo Bills defenders as he left them for dead while scoring a 64-yard touchdown in the Chiefs' remarkable 42-36 victory in the Divisional Round last Sunday.

That score marked one of the five lead changes after the two-minute warning in a contest viewed as one of the greatest in the history of the NFL playoffs.

While the officials on the field at the time did not see fit to penalise Hill for taunting, it was revealed on Saturday he was fined over $10,000 by the league for his actions in the act of scoring.

Hill and the Chiefs are heavy favourites to see off the Bengals and progress to a third successive Super Bowl.

However, after holding the Tennessee Titans to 16 points in their Divisional Round triumph, Cincinnati will look to keep Hill in check.

The Bengals did just that in their Week 17 win over the Chiefs, holding him to six catches for 40 yards.

And Cincinnati safety Vonn Bell made it clear earlier this week that the Bengals are ready for the test posed by Kansas City's speed on offense.

"They've got speed. They've got [Mecole] Hardman and they've got [Byron] Pringle, they've got [Hill]," Bell said. "It brings a lot of problems because it stretches you vertically. [Because] you want to take away these vertical threats and everything underneath.

"You've got [Jerick] McKinnon, you got [Clyde Edwards-Helaire] back, you got Travis [Kelce] sitting underneath in the soft of the zone. It was just like, 'Man, everybody's back deep and he's just by himself.' You've got to respect the speed, because it's like a roadrunner, we call them, and they just keep on rolling.

"That's why this team is so dynamic. You got guys like Hardman and [Hill] that can line up anywhere, backfield, anywhere they could do punt returns and they can create explosives everywhere. It's a unique group that they have, and it's a challenge for sure. We rise up to it and we're ready to take it on for sure."

 

Quarterbacks Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have both decided to pass on participating in the upcoming 2022 NFL Pro Bowl.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Allen was voted as an alternate in the AFC roster, having initially missed out to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was absent for the latter stages of the season with an ankle injury.

Jackson's ankle injury will force him out of the Pro Bowl game, while Allen has opted to let his body "rest and recover" after a hectic season.

Allen's season had prematurely ended last weekend at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs 42-36 in overtime in a Divisional playoffs classic.

"Unfortunately, I will be declining the invitation to play in the Pro Bowl this year - in order to allow my body to rest and recover from the harshness of the season," Allen told ESPN.

"The type of quarterback [that] I am, I obtain a lot of bumps and bruises along the road of a season, so I will use this time to let my body heal."

The AFC roster may be short on quarterbacks with Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert as started and Patrick Mahomes the only back-up.

Mahomes will be aiming to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl with the Chiefs this weekend, meaning he may become unavailable for the Pro Bowl, scheduled for February 6 in Las Vegas, too.

Dual threat Bills QB Allen had a career-high 4,407 passing yards for 36 passing touchdowns, along with a career-best 763 rushing yards with six touchdowns.

Jackson only managed 12 games due to injury prematurely ending his season, with a 64.4 percent completion rate for 2,882 yards and 16 touchdowns.

The Buffalo Bills face an offseason where they must continue to work to find a way to beat Patrick Mahomes after being left sick to their stomach by his incredible late heroics in the NFL Divisional Round.

Buffalo appeared destined to knock off the AFC's dominant power in Kansas City, striking what looked to be the decisive blow when Josh Allen found Gabriel Davis, who reeled in his fourth touchdown catch of the game to set a postseason record, to give the Bills a 36-33 lead with just 13 seconds left as an incredible weekend of playoff matchups saved its most remarkable for last.

Yet 13 seconds proved more than enough time for Mahomes to thwart the Bills again, driving the Chiefs down to the Buffalo 31-yard line to set Harrison Butker up for a 49-yard field goal to force overtime.

And Mahomes then ensured the Bills will be stewing over their inability to close the game out until the start of the 2022 campaign as the Chiefs won the overtime coin toss and sealed victory with an eight-play drive capped by his eight-yard touchdown throw to Travis Kelce, whose superb catch sealed a 42-36 triumph that will go down in NFL folklore.

While Bills fans will understandably want to extinguish the memory of a painful defeat, McDermott, having seen his team defeated by Mahomes and Co. in last year's AFC Championship Game, must now reflect on an astonishing late turnaround and determine how they can stop the quarterback who continues to haunt them.

McDermott said of Mahomes in his post-game media conference: "That's the reality of our situation, and we’ve got to continue to work to beat him.

"Give him the credit. He made a couple plays down the stretch. That’s what great players do. They make big plays in big moments in big games.

"The game came down to, pretty much, 13 seconds. I think they all feel the same way I do; we're all sick to [our] stomach and it hurts. We worked really hard to get here.

"I know the fans are disappointed. I wish I could take that off of them, take it off the team. But we can't."

Asked about the bizarre decision to send the kick-off after Davis' fourth touchdown out of the endzone for a touchback rather than taking time off the clock by kicking it in play, McDermott replied: "We talk about a lot of things. I'm just going to leave it at execution and it starts with me."

Allen, meanwhile, echoed McDermott's sentiments after once again being left to take in the agony of another loss to Mahomes, whose game-winning connection with Kelce marked the fifth and final lead change following the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.

"It was tough to be in that moment," Allen said. "I have a lot of respect for Pat. He throws a winning touchdown, and he comes straight over and finds me.

"To be in that situation and to do that, that was pretty cool of him. Obviously, it just sucks the way it happened. We wanted to win that game and had our opportunities.

"I was taking it all in and holding on to that feeling and making sure that we don't feel like this again. Back-to-back years in the same spot, it's tough to take in, but it's part of the game; it's part of the learning process.

"We've got to use this and figure out how to be better and how to accomplish what we want to accomplish."

Patrick Mahomes put Sunday's incredible win for the Kansas City Chiefs among his career highlights as he propelled his team to within one victory of a third straight Super Bowl appearance.

A thrilling contest between the Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills was settled in Kansas City's favour when Mahomes found Travis Kelce for a game-winning touchdown in overtime.

The Chiefs have now reached the AFC Championship for the fourth straight season, as they look to go on and replicate their Super Bowl success from two years ago.

Buffalo seemed to have the game tied up in regulation time when Josh Allen picked out Gabriel Davis for a record-breaking fourth touchdown with just 13 seconds left on the clock, making it 36-33 to the Bills.

Yet Mahomes got the Chiefs within field-goal range and Harrison Butker did the rest to send the roller coaster encounter into overtime.

Mahomes – who completed 33 of 44 attempts for 378 yards with three touchdowns as well as getting into the endzone himself for the Chief's first TD – then kept his composure to find Kelce in the corner four minutes and 15 seconds into overtime after Kansas City had won the coin flip.

"To be in this moment in this game against that team, to make a play to walk off a game at Arrowhead, I'll remember this game for the rest of my life.

"It was definitely special to win a game like this at Arrowhead. Obviously the Super Bowl was probably number one for me but this one is right up there.

“To be able to come back a couple of times, get points when we needed to get points, score touchdowns, get in field goal range, I'll remember it forever."

Asked what words of wisdom he offered to the Chief's talisman before overtime, head coach Andy Reid replied: "When it's grim, be the Grim Reaper and go get it.

"He did that. He made everyone around him better, which he's great at, and he just does it effortlessly. When it gets tough, he's going to be there battling."

"This is definitely another step for him into the Hall of Fame," Mahomes' team-mate Tyreek Hill added of the QB.

"He had the chance to prove once again he's at the top of when it comes to quarterbacks in this league.

"He definitely doesn't flinch, especially in moments like that."

Across 17 regular-season appearances in 2021, Mahomes threw for 37 touchdowns, tied for fourth in the NFL alongside Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers.

Only Matthew Stafford (4,886), Justin Herbert (5,014) and the league-leading Tom Brady (5,316) had a higher yardage than Mahomes' 4,839 in the regular season, with just Herbert and Brady completing more passes in total.

Mahomes has already accumulated eight touchdowns this postseason, doubling his tally from last year and is just two shy of his previous postseason best of 10, set in the Chief's triumphant 2019 campaign.

Kansas City will face Cincinnati in the AFC Championship game, with the Bengals having won 34-31 in the most recent meeting between the teams on January 2, a defeat that snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Chiefs.

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