Analytics Recap: Kansas City Chiefs Defeat Denver Broncos, 43-16
The Kansas City Chiefs jumped to 6-1 after defeating the Denver Broncos 43-16 on a snowy Sunday afternoon in Denver. Like the Buffalo game, the Chiefs played a really good game of football in every aspect of this one, with the defense and special teams coming up huge.
The Chiefs run game was once again highly efficient, which is a really promising sign for the run game actually becoming a positive for this offense. The offensive line has been blocking really well, especially Eric Fisher, who got an 84.4 grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for this game, and the running backs have been running admirably. Another positive note is the Chiefs' passing defense, as the Broncos' passing EPA per play was a disaster in this one. Plenty of this was on Drew Lock, who had a rough game and got a 45.3 PFF grade, but the Chiefs defense did lots of the work themselves with fantastic performances from Daniel Sorensen, Bashaud Breeland and the interior defensive line.
Mecole Hardman had himself a day with 5.3 EPA on just three plays, making up for his poor performance against the Bills last week. For the Broncos, Melvin Gordon had one of the worst EPA scores imaginable with an appalling -5.4 EPA and 0% success rate on four pass targets and -6.7 EPA on 18 runs.
In his debut, Le'Veon Bell had 0.6 EPA on six plays, which included two runs of 16 yards each that added 2.1 expected points. His second-longest run with the Jets was 15 yards, so that should really indicate something in regards to how much better this run will go for Bell.
Neither quarterback played all that well, but Patrick Mahomes' numbers were not nearly as bad as Drew Lock's numbers. On top of that, Mahomes' EPA should have really been higher with the -4.1 EPA and potentially more that he lost from Nick Keizer's fumble.
If someone told you before any Chiefs game in the Andy Reid era that the four biggest plays of the game all went in the Chiefs' favor and not one of them came from the Chiefs offense, they'd call you nuts, and rightfully so. Amazing work from the defense and special teams!
It is becoming clear who the best teams in the NFL are at this point, though some of the teams towards the top have played some shaky football themselves. The Chiefs, Ravens, Packers, Buccaneers and Steelers have been the five best teams in football. The Chiefs fell back a bit in offense from 0.260 EPA per play to 0.246 EPA per play, but the defense made a big jump, going from 0.045 EPA per play (14th) to -0.021 EPA per play (sixth), thanks mostly to their -0.068 EPA per play on dropbacks (second-best behind the Steelers).
The early down passing rate stayed pretty much the same this week, going from 58.2% following Week 6 to 58.1% following Week 7. It's still lower than it should be by at least 5% or more, where the Seahawks are at with their league-leading 63% rate, but at least they are still near the top of the league.
Lastly, we have the Football Outsiders numbers, notably Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). DVOA currently has a strength of opponent adjustment at 70% and rising until it hits 100% in Week 10. The Chiefs improved from sixth to fourth in Overall DVOA, improved from second to first in Offensive DVOA despite their rating getting worse and falling from 10th to 13th in Defensive DVOA, though it stayed mostly the same from Week 6.