With the playoffs just a few weeks away, the AFC West championship under their belt, and the number one seed in the conference insight, the Chiefs are in a good position to repeat last year’s performance and defend their title. Can this year’s team can be even better than last year’s?
Other teams are performing well of course in 2020, the Bills, the Steelers, and the Titans to name a few in the AFC, so why the Chiefs are still performing better than everybody else?
With a 12-1 record so far, they will face the Saints this weekend in a preview of a possible exciting Super Bowl rehearsal.
First of all, the two sides of the ball are being more consistent for the Chiefs this year. Of course, they have their lows and downs, but the offense and defense know each other very well at this point, and their reflexes are getting out at the right time every game.
In 2019, the Chiefs finished fifth in NFL points scored. This year, after twelve games, they ranked second. Patrick Mahomes and the offense is the league’s top-ranked offense, averaging 429 yards and 31 points per game. The Chiefs have more 1st downs than any other team, rank fourth in 3rd down percentage, and have scored over 30 points nine times this season. Plus, Mahomes has completed a career-high 68.4% of his throws for an average of 323 yards per game with 33 touchdown passes and only five interceptions.
His targets are as special as he is as a quarterback. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill rank first and fourth in receiving yards this year, respectively. And last week, Kelce set a record, having five consecutive seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving, a league first for tight ends. Do we need to talk about Tyreek’s speed? He is one of the most feared receivers in the league.
Veteran Pro Bowler Sammy Watkins plays for the team every time he is healthy, he is just selfless and it is awesome to watch. And what about the running back room with Clyde Edward-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell? Lots of weapons this year indeed…
However, the offense was already explosive last year. But this year, the team is also very efficient on the road, with seven victories so far and no loss, and might have an extra motivation to pile up points given that only one team of the conference will get a bye week this year.
On the defensive side of the ball, Steve Spagnuolo has already proved that his system works. With born leaders such as Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Jones, and Frank Clark, the Chiefs do not have the best defense in the league, but they have a defense that works and reacts when the offense has a little of a down phase.
Mahomes recently stated that he has extreme confidence in his defense to compensate when he cannot perform the way he wants to.
The biggest strength of the defense is the interceptions and the forced turnovers. After 12 weeks, their +11 turnover differential is tied for the best in the NFL.
But let’s not forget about the special teams, as they have had an exponential improvement as well this year. They have had fewer mistakes and penalties than in 2019. Mecole Hardman has not shown enough for me, but he is doing his job as a good returner.
However, one of the biggest weapons this Kansas City Chiefs team has this year is maturity. Even if Patrick Mahomes is still a young quarterback, he understands he does not have to show up the big guns every game and he just needs to win. They had quite a few “ugly wins” this season but they are efficient and confident, and that is what the great teams show in every circumstance!
Additionally, Mahomes is making better decisions, throwing just five interceptions so far and he is trusting his instincts a lot more running for a bunch of first downs when his wide receivers are covered.
“I think it’s just about being consistent for a full four quarters,” Mahomes said. “We’ve had spans in every single game where we’ve been able to do what we want and put points on the board and execute the offense at a high level, but it seems like there’s one span or there’s one little area that we don’t execute on every single game, and so just trying to be as consistent as we possibly can. What better test than going up against one of the best defenses in the league in the New Orleans Saints and being able to go out there and then put up what we’re going to see when we get to the playoffs and then maybe in a Super Bowl.”
Let’s run it back!