The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a victory against the Las Vegas Raiders, winning 48-9. Most fans of an NFL team would say it is against a struggling Raiders team. That is true but, the Chiefs have now won six straight games and are quickly climbing in the playoff seeding. The beginning of the season for Kansas City was rough. The offense was turning the ball over at a very high rate, and the defense struggled in every facet. Now that the team is starting to play as a unit, are they the most feared team in the AFC?
Kansas City currently sits at the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Looking back a month, this team was at the bottom of the AFC West. Playoff hopes looked bleak as fans were in shock and awe. The Chiefs have gone to three consecutive AFC Championships back-to-back Super Bowls were misfiring in every possible way.
Patrick Mahomes Is Leading the Chiefs Offense
Patrick Mahomes has attempted 502 passes on the season, completing 329 for 3,642 yards, and is averaging 300.9 yards per game. He has thrown 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He is the heart of this offense, and when he is playing at an MVP caliber, so is the offense. His vision downfield to see plays evolve is unreal. A perfect example is the most recent game against the Raiders Mahomes would throw cross body for 38-yards connecting with wide receiver Tyreek Hill. His ability to change a game with one throw is uncanny and eerie for opponents.
The Chiefs Are Very Versatile on Offense
The Kansas City offense has been more versatile during their six-game winning streak. In one game Tyreek Hill may catch seven passes for 100 yards. In another game, the running backs may be the highlight. The ability to have weapons at each position can be lethal to opposing defenses. The Chiefs have tremendous depth at wide receiver and also at the running back position. In the Week 14 matchup against the Raiders, wide receiver Josh Gordon caught his first touchdown in a Chiefs’ uniform, which is a very surprising statement. Mahomes has connected with 16 different targets through the air. The team has also had 11 different players rush the football.
The Chiefs Have Gone from Worst to First on Defense
The Chiefs’ defense is honestly the reason this team is the most feared in the AFC. This defense has caught up to the offense in the ability to win football games. In Weeks 1-7, the defense was ranked 27th in points allowed per game which was 29. They were ranked 31st in defensive efficiency, and they allowed a nearly 50% conversion rate on 3rd down. In Weeks 8-13, the defense is ranked 2nd overall in points per game, only allowing 11.2. The defense dramatically changed their efficiency and is ranked 3rd overall now at 76%. The Chiefs’ defense is ranked 1st in 3rd-down conversion rate, only allowing 26%.
Those changes consisted of adding defensive end Melvin Ingram through a trade. The trade allowed Chris Jones to kick back inside and play defensive tackle. These moves alone have changed the instinct of this defensive front. The Chiefs have improved their pass rush, and forcing pressure on the opposing quarterbacks allows the corners to do their jobs.
Another move was reducing the role of Daniel Sorenson and getting Juan Thornhill onto the field. The secondary evolved before our eyes, and Rashad Fenton has been one of the best corners in the league. With the versatility of the corners, the Chiefs fans are seeing more dime package being deployed.
"“The Chiefs used the nickel package on 42.5 percent of defensive snaps, less often than all but one other team (the Dolphins), while setting up in dime the sixth-most often (21.8 percent). Since then, they have used nickel even less often (38.3 percent of snaps) and dime even more often (37.3 percent) — the second-heaviest dime use of any team across that stretch. The Chiefs are putting a sixth back on the field more and more.”"
Are the Chiefs the Most Feared Team in the AFC?
In the end, I believe Kansas City is the most feared team in the AFC and is working its way to most feared in the NFL. The defense playing at such an elite level changes the overall ability of this football team. In years past, it felt like the offense needed to score every possession. Now it feels like the defense is going to wreak havoc alleviating the pressure of the offense. The team is having fun, and the cohesion is visible which makes them lethal as the postseason approaches.