The Kansas City Chiefs followed a concerning second quarter with a near-flawless second half in a 31-13 win over the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field last week. This win put the Chiefs back to a .500 record, standing at 3-3 on the year. The Chiefs' offense was off for several parts of the first half, with three turnovers and a punt in their six drives, but they stepped up in the second half with three consecutive touchdown drives. The defense was hot for the majority of the game, with Washington only really having two or three good plays on the day.
The Chiefs' defense was simply fantastic in this game, keeping the Washington passing offense to a -0.15 EPA per play (21st percentile), 38% success rate (17th percentile) and 22% first down rate (7th percentile). A big part of this came from the Chiefs really not allowing anything on early downs, with a 22nd percentile EPA per dropback, 15th percentile EPA per rush and a 16th percentile EPA per play.
On offense, the passing game was solid and made sure to carry the load, especially on third down. An 0.81 EPA per play, 71% success rate and 65% first-down rate over late-down passes all ranked in the 90th percentile or higher, with Patrick Mahomes converting 11 third downs and eight consecutive third downs in the second half. That kind of third-down prowess is almost impossible to replicate.
None of the top offensive weapons of the game for the Chiefs really produced at a high level, but several of them contributed a decent amount, starting with Demarcus Robinson's 4.3 EPA over six targets. Following Robinson were Byron Pringle at 2.7 EPA over three targets, Tyreek Hill at 2.3 EPA over 14 targets, Jody Fortson at 2.3 EPA on his lone target and Travis Kelce with 2.2 EPA over 12 targets.
For Washington, they had two players who were positive offensive weapons in EPA. The top one in final EPA results was Ricky Seals-Jones with 2.7 EPA over seven targets, but the other one was probably better and had his EPA numbers wrecked by a play that he wasn't at fault for. J.D. McKissic finished the game with -1.4 EPA, including -1.2 EPA over 10 targets, but he lost 4.8 EPA on the late-game interception by Tershawn Wharton. Without that play, McKissic's EPA on this game is much more like a 3.4 EPA game over 17 rushes and targets.
Mahomes had a nice bounce-back game here, with a 79th percentile EPA per play and an 89th percentile Total EPA over his 57 dropbacks. He still played better than this, as his total EPA goes from 16.0 to 23.0 if you take away his first interception that went through the hands of Tyreek Hill and convert it to a touchdown, giving him an EPA per play closer to around 0.40.
Taylor Heinicke had a really rough day for Washington, as he missed a handful of throws that he shouldn't have throughout the game. His -0.15 EPA per play was 22nd percentile and his -6.2 Total EPA was 21st percentile. Thankfully, I would still say that this was more of a positive performance for the Chiefs' defense than a negative performance for Heinicke, but it was certainly a bit of both there.
This was a weird game, with the three most impactful plays of the game all being turnovers. The top one was Mahomes' interception that went through Hill's hands, a play in which the Chiefs entered with 5.1 expected points and then lost 5.2 expected points and six percentage points on their win probability. The other top two turnovers were an Antonio Gibson lost fumble in the second quarter and Taylor Heinicke's interception to Tershawn Wharton.
The next two plays on the list were large passes from Mahomes, with a 49-yard completion to Mecole Hardman and a 24-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson. The most impactful play in terms of win probability in the Chiefs' favor was actually Dustin Hopkins' missed 42-yard field goal in the third quarter, which lost Washington 3.5 expected points and got the Chiefs the win probability advantage back, going from 44% to 54%.
The Chiefs entered the game with a 72.5% win probability and held the advantage for the vast majority of the game. At halftime, the Chiefs had a 58.4% win probability advantage despite holding a 13-10 deficit. Washington took its one and only advantage of the game for about three minutes in the third quarter following a 18-yard punt from Tommy Townsend. It then went back to the Chiefs following Hopkins' 42-yard missed field goal.
In the 10 minutes from the Washington's peak win probability number to the end of the third quarter, Kansas City added 46% of win probability and added 17.3 expected points over that 25-play span. The Chiefs reached a 95% win probability with 10:38 remaining in the game, a 99% win probability with 5:31 remaining in the game and a 100% win probability with 3:14 remaining, when they made it a 31-13 game.
The Chiefs now have the second-best offense with a 0.182 EPA per play, trailing the Buccaneers' 0.202 EPA per play for the league lead. They also have the second-worst defense with a 0.178 EPA allowed per play, just above the Jaguars' 0.189 EPA per play. In just the Washington game, the Chiefs ranked 10th in Offensive EPA per play and seventh in Defensive EPA per play, so that is a real step forward. The Chiefs' next opponent, the Tennessee Titans, rank 12th in Offensive EPA per play and 23rd in Defensive EPA per play on the season.
Mahomes currently ranks third in EPA+CPOE composite with a 0.200 score, only trailing Aaron Rodgers' 0.213 and Kyler Murray's 0.209. Mahomes ranks second in EPA behind Matthew Stafford of the Rams, with Mahomes putting up 0.333 EPA per play and Stafford putting up 0.397 EPA per play. Tannehill ranks 15th in EPA+CPOE composite with a 0.131 score, 13th in EPA per play (0.211) and 18th in CPOE (1.4).
The final chart is an early-down passing rate graphic with a 20-80% win probability for the 2021 season. The Chiefs now stand in second with a 62.3% rate, only trailing the Bills' 65.3%. Just behind the Chiefs, for other teams over 60%, are the Dolphins at 61.3%, Chargers at 61.3%, the Eagles at 61.3% and the Buccaneers at 60.7%. On these early downs, the Chiefs have a 0.258 EPA per dropback, which ranks seventh, and a -0.084 EPA per rush, which ranks 20th. The Titans rank 30th with a 42.5% early-down pass rate, only ahead of the 1-5 Houston Texans and the 0-6 Detroit Lions.