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Chiefs Touchdown King Travis Kelce has Officially Entered the GOAT Tight End Conversation


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The Kansas City Chiefs have one of the best duos in all of the NFL -- Mahomes to Kelce. It's undeniable that Patrick Mahomes is having an MVP-season performance, and the media attention is justifiable. But it's time to talk about Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce because the Kansas City fan favorite is breaking records and drumming up tight end goat debates. The touchdown king of Kansas City is on a path to put up the most impressive stats of his entire career and shows no sign of slowing down. 

A Legend-Cementing Season

Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates a third quarter touchdown during the game against the Detroit Lions

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Travis Kelce showed off Week 11, connecting with Mahomes for a record-breaking three touchdowns. The AFC Week 11 Offensive Player Of The Week had six catches for 115 yards and three touchdowns. His 17-yard game-winning grab with 31 seconds remaining catapulted Kelce to the top spot in the entire league with a whopping 11 touchdown grabs. The Kansas City Tight End's Week 11 performance against AFC West Rivals, Los Angeles Chargers, helped Kelce break a tie with legendary tight end Rob Gronkowski for the most career 100-yard games by a tight end with his 33rd. Travis Kelce now owns the record for most 100-yard games by a tight end in NFL history, and Kelce is only in his tenth season in the league and ninth starting season. 

Mahomes' favorite target still has six weeks of regular season action to add to his impressive touchdown tally and NFL history-making records. If Kelce can keep this momentum for the back six, he will not only have a career-best season; but a career-defining one. Since covering Kelce is an absolute nightmare, it seems likely that the Kansas City tight end will continue dominating the league. 

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After all, this is a player who scored four touchdowns in Week 5 versus the Raiders and three touchdowns Week 11 versus a strong Chargers defense. He followed up his stellar Week 11 touchdown triplet in Week 12 by breaking more records. Sunday, Travis Kelce broke his own single-season career-high receiving touchdowns record of 11. After connecting with Mahomes and plowing through Los Angeles Rams defenders, Kelce danced in the end zone for his 12th time this season. He just continues to cement his legacy week in and week out.   

2022 Records On The Horizon

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs after a catch for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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It's impossible to stop myself from entertaining the idea that we might be watching the greatest tight end of all time lacing up in Kansas City week-to-week. He's already smashed a plethora of records. And attainable achievements still dangle in front of the Kansas City touchdown king. 

Let's start with the all-time career receptions by a tight end, a record held by another Kansas City tight end: Tony Gonzalez, with 1.3k career receptions. Travis Kelce currently sits in the number five spot with 777 -- for GOAT debating, Gronk sits at the 10-spot -- chasing Shannon Sharpe, who sits at the fourth with 808. Kelce only needs 31 receptions to pass Sharpe and overtake the fourth spot behind tight end greats Antonio Gates (955 career receptions) and Jason Witten (1.2k receptions). It's not only likely that Kelce will unseat Sharpe, but he's on a career path to also unseat Gates, Witten and Gonzalez. Week 12 Kelce added another four receptions to the race - this pace could put Travis in position to breeze past Sharpe's record by the end of the regular season. 

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Additionally, Kelce could unset Shannon Sharpe for most receiving yards of all-time by a tight end, another record held by Tony Gonzalez. There is something about the Kansas City tight-end magic that places Kelce currently in the number five spot with 9.9k receiving yards, a spot he surpassed Gronkowski (9.3k) to hold. Kelce only needs 43 yards to catch Sharpe and move on up the leaderboard. In fact, this season, Kelce has four games with 100+ yards, so not only will Kelce take over the fourth spot. He inched 57 yards closer in Week 12, all but guaranteeing he'll surpass Sharpe in Week 13. 

Antonio Gates holds the record for most touchdowns by a tight end all-time, with 116 touchdowns. The record-setting tight end is trailed by Tony Gonzalez (111 touchdowns), Rob Gronkowski (93 touchdowns), Jimmy Graham (85 touchdowns) and Jason Witten (74 touchdowns). Travis sits at the sixth spot with 72 career touchdowns. The Kansas City target only needs three more touchdowns this season to cement his spot in the top five. This doesn't seem likely; it seems certain - three touchdowns in six remaining games feels like a cakewalk for Kelce. 

Breaking those records and achieving his own career-best statistical year would be enough to applaud but there's another regular season record within Kelce's reach -- the single-season tight end receiving touchdowns record. Iconic Patriot, Rob Gronkowski, holds the record with 17 touchdowns during his 2011 season. After Travis Kelce's 39-yard touchdown against the Rams in Week 12, the star tight end currently has 12 receiving touchdowns this season. Number 87 has now blown past his 2020 best: 11 single-season touchdowns. All Kelce needs to unseat Gronk is six touchdowns, which would average out to a single touchdown during every regular-season game this year. When you think of it like that, it seems easily doable. Only six games remaining in regular-season play. And over the past seven games Kelce has netted a thrilling nine touchdowns. This is a record, if Kelce can earn, that could solidify tight-end GOAT status for the Chief. After all, he's only in the middle of his ninth starting season. Record-holding legends like Gronkowski and Gonzalez both played for 11 and 17 seasons respectively. 

Is Kelce the Greatest?

Tight end Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs is introduced to the fans before the game against the New York Jets at Arrowhead Stadium

Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

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Chiefs' gunslinger Patrick Mahomes already thinks Kelce is the greatest -- and this is a teammate bromance worth stanning. "Travis, I mean, it's Travis, greatest tight end of all time, he makes plays like that to win games," Mahomes said. "At the end of the day, he's going to keep fighting until the very end. When you see that, not only is it impressive for him, but it gets other guys going."

Mahomes putting GOAT-talk on his go-to receiver isn't shocking. In fact, it's what you'd expect the Kansas City quarterback to do. Someone you might not expect to freely utter Kelce's name as the greatest is the very former tight end being unseated by the BBQ capital's reigning end zone mainstay -- Shannon Sharpe. 

Sharpe had this to say back in October, "Right now, and I've said this before, and I don't have any problem saying this, I believe that Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) is the greatest tight end to have ever played. But the thing that Kelce is going to have is longevity, and his numbers are going to dwarf his. Now if he can get a Super Bowl ... and so that's why I give [it to] Gronk because Gronk was so dominant -- Kelce is equally as dominant, but those four Super Bowls, that's the difference-maker right now.

If he can get another Super Bowl or two, it's going to be hard for me to put someone in front of him. He's not the greatest currently, but I believe when his career is done, and he walks away, [he will be] because I believe he still has another two or three years -- at least -- in his prime, and he's playing with (Patrick) Mahomes."

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At the end of this season, depending on which records Kelce is able to smash, we may find ourselves arguing that Kelce is already the greatest. Regardless, he's having a career-best, banner-season - and we, the fans, are lucky to be witnessing it. 

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