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Mahomes or Moore? Vikings Preparing for Both Chiefs Quarterbacks

EAGAN, Minn. — Andy Reid knew the question was coming. How could he not, being that it's one of the most talked about storylines in the NFL.

On a conference call with Twin Cities media members, the Chiefs head coach was asked whether Patrick Mahomes or Matt Moore will start at quarterback for Kansas City against the Vikings on Sunday.

Reid was ready with an answer.

"Well, we just made a trade," he quipped.

Reid then turned serious with his response.

"I don't know," Reid said. "I'm just taking it day by day, going to see how everything rolls here."

Mahomes started the first seven games of the season for the Chiefs, but he injured his knee in Kansas City's win over Denver on Oct. 17 on Thursday Night Football.

When healthy, the 2018 NFL MVP is regarded as one of the league's best players, not to mention top quarterbacks.

In his first season as a starter in 2018, he completed 383 of 580 passes (66.0 percent) for 5,097 yards with 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Mahomes became just the third quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 50 touchdowns in a season, joining elite company with Peyton Manning (55) and Tom Brady (50).

Vikings safety Anthony Harris summed up Mahomes' skillset.

"Big arm. He can buy time with his legs, get out of the pocket, move around in the pocket," Harris said. "That allows those guys to get downfield, and he has the arm to get it to them."

Moore, who was signed by the Chiefs in August due to injuries behind Mahomes at the position, helped lead Kansas City to a win in relief against Denver. He also started in Week 8 in a 31-24 home loss against Green Bay.

In five-plus quarters of play in 2019, Moore has thrown for 384 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

With Mahomes' status for Sunday's game up in the air — he practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday — it's a safe bet to assume the Vikings are preparing for both quarterbacks.

"You have to prepare for both guys. You have to be overprepared, instead of preparing for one guy and then getting something different," Harris said. "You go through it and look at the breakdown of the two different guys and look at the personnel and how they want to use those guys. Then, just go play football.

"You have to look at the tape and see how the [coaches] want to use both of them," Harris later added. "Does their offense change depending on who's in the game? Is one guy going to be moving around a little bit more? Does he get the ball out quicker? Just how they want to attack you in the game."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer detailed the challenge of trying to game plan with the opposing starter is unknown.

"It's a challenge, obviously. I think you'll have calls based on their offense that you feel good about," Zimmer said. "Then you're going to have other calls based on that quarterback, other calls based on this quarterback, so you kind of put together your base plan and then you have plans for if he plays and if he doesn't play.

"I don't know number of [extra] hours [of preparation required], but it's all part of it," Zimmer added. "Part of it is showing the players so they understand the difference in the two players. Part of it is them understanding the things each guy can do better. It's a challenge, but it's the NFL."

In the first six games of the season with Mahomes, the Chiefs offense averaged 422 yards and 28.7 points per game. The Chiefs had 337 yards of offense and scored 24 points in Sunday's loss to Green Bay.

While the numbers seem to show the offense is more explosive with Mahomes at quarterback, which is understandable when comparing an MVP to a player who a guy who was a high school football coach in Southern California when he was signed by the Chiefs two weeks before the start of the 2019 season.

Still, Zimmer expects Reid's play-calling and Kansas City's basic offensive principles to remain the same.

"It really didn't change too much," Zimmer said of the Chiefs offense when Mahomes was out. "The base offense is still pretty much the same.

"[Moore] played a little bit against Jacksonville [in the season opener], I believe," Zimmer added. "And he played a little bit [at] Denver? So, there's some tape on him. It hasn't changed too much. Some of the things that he does are obviously different than Mahomes."

View Vikings practice images from October 30 as the team prepares for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Reid said he has liked what he's seen from Moore, an 11-season veteran with 52 career games under his belt, including a 15-16 record as a starter.

"He's been a real pro with everything. That's helped," Reid said. "The way he handles himself and handles the players around him is good. He's a humble guy and works hard. He's got a good way about him."

But Reid also knows Mahomes can elevate Kansas City's offense to an elite level. In 24 career regular-season starts, the quarterback is 18-6 and the Chiefs have averaged 416.3 yards and 33.1 points per game.

"I'll tell you, he wanted to go back in after [the injury] happened. There's not a lot that surprises me with him that way," Reid said of Mahomes. "He loves to play, and I think it shows in the way he plays. They had a hard time holding him back when we were playing Denver."

"I'm taking it day-by-day to see how he does and watch him work," Reid added. "He's going to practice [Wednesday] so we'll see how it all works out."