Behind the magic and majesty of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, the Chiefs were able to lock down home-field advantage. Now that the regular season is over here are the takeaways from the regular season and what to watch for in the postseason.
The Chiefs Offense is Still the Best in the League
With the Kansas City Chiefs finishing the season with the #1 offense in the league yet again, it proves a lot about how good Patrick Mahomes and the offensive staff have been. It doesn’t matter what weapons are healthy if they are vets or rookies, or if they played loaded defenses, the Chiefs are unstoppable.
Patrick Mahomes had the second most efficient 5,000-yard passing season in NFL history, only trailing Drew Brees’ second-consecutive 5,000-yard season in 2013. It is unbelievable to see Mahomes continue to grow as a QB with all of the new weapons the front office brought in this off-season. The Chiefs’ receivers were all targeted fairly equally per game, the only standout of the receivers was JuJu Smith-Schuster because he was used in short yardage a lot and the Chiefs would use him over the middle a lot. Mahomes is in this elite category of quarterbacks where he is the system, they may move pieces around him to get better, but Mahomes is what makes the Chiefs go.
The one-piece they will not move around would be Travis Kelce, the best tight end in football and possibly the best at his position ever. Kelce had a very casual season for him, with 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns while being continually double-teamed by defensive backs and linebackers all season long. While the Chiefs didn’t establish a #1 receiver due to the amount of new talent they brought in, Kelce was able to put up his usual 1,000-yard and 10+ TD season, an incredible feat.
It’s hard to overstate how good the Cheifs’ offense was, they had the most points per drive this season and had the best third-down and long-yardage conversion rate in the league. The only thing holding the Chiefs back from being considered the best offense of all time was the number of injuries and the failure to utilize some talent on the roster.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kadarius Toney, and Mecole Hardman were all out in crucial games this season due to some serious injuries and for Toney and Hardman, half of the season. Also the usage of Skyy Moore this season has been frustrating, Moore might be the future at the WR position in KC and had fewer snaps than Justin Watson for the majority season. Look for Skyy to be really important for the Chiefs’ offense in the postseason and for all of these injured players to make an impact as the Chiefs try to get to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years.
Special Teams Issues Linger but May be Fixable in the Postseason
The worst special teams unit in the league resides in Kansas City, but they looked pretty locked in against Las Vegas. They didn’t miss a kick, PAT, or have a turnover for the first time since the game against the Buccaneers in Week Four, an encouraging sign for a unit that has struggled to find some sort of consistency.
The best news for Special Teams is the fact the Chiefs are finally healthy, Kadarius Toney and Mecole Hardman are both available to return kicks and punts and Dave Toub is not putting Skyy Moore in an unwindable situation as the punt returner. Tommy Townsend has been the best punter all year and it seems like the focus on his kick-holding isn’t distracting him from sending punts deep in enemy territory.
The biggest wildcard is Harrison Butker, the All-Pro kicker has had his worst season and looked consistent against the Raiders. If all of the special teams can stay playing consistent football, the Chiefs will be the most challenging team to stop in the league.
The Defense is Starting to Find a Rhythm at the Right Time
The Chiefs’ Defense has been spotty all year, while having a lot of sacks and forcing turnovers, they were the worst red-zone defense in the league and relied on a bunch of role players to be effective in the front seven.
The defensive line struggled to get pressure all season long, relying on rookie George Karlaftis and Frank Clark to handle a lot of matchups on the outside. But late in the season, the pass rush started to hit its stride, especially George Karlaftis. George Karlaftis had a rough start to his rookie season, not even recording a sack until Week 11 against the Rams, but since that point, he has recorded 6 sacks and 10 QB hits. If Karlaftis can keep up his production, the Chiefs will have a threat on the outside for the rest of the playoffs.
The young secondary of the Chiefs is also starting to figure it out. Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, and Joshua Williams are all playing great in their rookie season. L’Jarius Sneed might be the best slot corner in the league. The secondary should be an X-factor, the Chiefs spent a lot of their draft picks on fixing a bad secondary, and look like they added a lot of talent.
There’s not a lot to say about the linebackers, Willie Gay Jr and Nick Bolton have been fantastic all season and Leo Chenal has been making plays in the second half of the season. If the defense can bend but not break, the Chiefs will be in great shape.
Can Kansas City Get Back to the Super Bowl?
Absolutely yes, the league has yet to see the Chiefs fully healthy on the offensive side of the ball, the special teams are usually clean in the postseason, and the defense needs to be solid and they definitely could be back in the Super Bowl. Watch for the Chiefs to be hard to stop once the Divisional Round starts.