This year, I wanted to check in on how the Kansas City Chiefs stacked up in various team statistical categories. I decided that it would be instructive to update those rankings weekly and see if a clear picture develops as to where the strengths and weaknesses on the team are coming from.
As always, if you want to hear my observations about the team in more detail, please tune in to It's Always Sunny in Chiefs Kingdom to hear our detailed breakdowns of the previous and upcoming Chiefs games.
I'm tracking the Chiefs' team rankings weekly in the following five categories: points, yards per play, turnovers, penalties, and third-down conversion rate. That should give a good idea of their overall progress as the season moves forward. I'm going to compare their NFL rank this week with their NFL rank last week and their NFL rank last season for each category.
The Chiefs are seventh in the NFL in points scored, with 149 through five weeks. That's an improvement from last week when they were ranked ninth, and behind their 2019 rank where they finished fifth.
The Chiefs are 11th in points allowed with 110, which is a massive drop from their ranking of third through four weeks. That happens when you allow 40 to the Las Vegas Raiders. They finished 2019 ranked seventh, so they will need to tighten things up a bit to get back on that track.
Yards Per Play
The Chiefs are currently second in the NFL in total yards and eighth in total plays run on offense, which ranks them eighth in the NFL in yards per play at 6.15. Last week they ranked sixth, and in 2019, the Chiefs' offense finished with 6.22 yards per play, good for second in the NFL.
Defensively, the Chiefs allow the 11th-most yards on the tenth-most plays, giving the defense the 13th-most (read: worst) opponent yards per play at 5.78. That's down from last week's position, given the defensive mistakes this past week, and worse than 2019's defense which allowed 5.36 yards per play. The defense will try to bounce back after a very poor showing against the Raiders.
The Chiefs turned the ball over through the air for the first time in Week 5 on Patrick Mahomes' first interception of the season, but they still rank second in the NFL in total giveaways with three, which aligns them closely with last season's offensive rank of third. They continue to be incredibly effective at limiting their turnovers so far in 2020.
The defense picked up another interception in Week 5, ranking them seventh in the NFL with eight takeaways. They were fifth through last week so they didn't lose much ground there. They finished last season as the 10th-best team in that department, so they would be well-served to continue taking the ball away at a top-10 clip.
The Chiefs are coming off of a bad penalty week, with 10 against the Raiders, which dropped their rank from the middle of the pack to eighth-most. They finished 2019 in the middle with the 15th-fewest penalties, so they'll look to make some strides to get back to their 2019 pace.
The increase in number of penalties also saw the Chiefs take a big step back in the total penalty yards department, where their 94 penalty yards brought their total to 265 yards and dropped them to the 13th-highest mark in the NFL through five weeks. Last season, the Chiefs were even worse, committing the seventh-most penalty yards in the NFL. Despite their struggles in Week 5, this has still been an area of improvement for the team so far this season.
The Chiefs lost their top ranking on third-down conversions after a 6-for-14 performance on Sunday, now ranking third in the NFL with a 51.5% conversion rate on the year. They finished last season in first place with a 47.6% conversion rate. The recent addition of former All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell should help the offense keep pace with 2019 in that regard. Their opponent for Week 6, the Buffalo Bills, took over the top spot in this department, so that will be a challenge for the defense to get the Bills off the field on Monday.
The defense dropped a bit in these rankings as well, with the 18th-highest conversion rate in the league at 42.6% after being two spots better going into Week 5. Last year saw the Chiefs finish with a 37.1% conversion rate, so they'll need to keep an eye on that this week against the Bills.
The Chiefs continue to be the most consistent team in the NFL compared to last season's rankings in these categories. Of these 10 metrics (points for, points against, yards per play, yards per play allowed, giveaways, takeaways, penalties, penalty yards, third-down conversion percentage, and defensive third-down conversion percentage) the Chiefs are only different than their 2019 counterparts by 44 total ranking spots, the best mark in the NFL by eight. Their poor performance against the Raiders certainly sent some of these rankings in the wrong direction, but in general, the team identity does not seem to have changed much from last season's championship roster.