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 third in the NFL in points scored, with 175 through six weeks. That's an improvement from last week when they were ranked seventh, and a bit ahead of their 2019 rank where they finished fifth.
The Chiefs are 13th in points allowed with 127, which is a slight drop from their ranking of 11th through six weeks. They have been superb in this category for five of their six games, but the 40 points against Las Vegas still hurts. 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 fourth in total plays run on offense, which ranks them fourth in the NFL in yards per play at 6.19. Last week they ranked eighth, and in 2019, the Chiefs' offense finished with 6.22 yards per play, good for second in the NFL. They are right on the same mark so far in 2020.
Defensively, the Chiefs allow the 13th-most yards on the 16th-most plays, giving the defense the 17th-most (right in the middle) opponent yards per play at 5.56. That's an improvement from last week's marks, which makes sense considering the defensive performance against Buffalo, but still worse than 2019's defense which allowed 5.36 yards per play.
The Chiefs turned the ball over one time in Week 6 on a Travis Kelce fumble, which dropped them from second to third in the NFL in total giveaways with four, which is exactly the rank they ended last season with. They continue to be incredibly effective at limiting their turnovers so far in 2020.
The defense picked up another interception in Week 6 on a nifty one-handed grab by Daniel Sorensen, ranking them seventh in the NFL with nine takeaways. They were also seventh through last week and they finished last season as the 10th-best team in that department, so the turnover battle continues to be a pillar of this team's success.
The Chiefs had a second-consecutive bad penalty week, with eight more against the Bills, dropping their rank from eighth-most to fifth-most in the league. They finished 2019 in the middle with the 15th-fewest penalties, so they'll need to tighten the screws up there to get back to their 2019 pace.
As expected, the increase in number of penalties also comes with a rise in the total penalty yards department, where their 68 penalty yards brought their total to 333 yards and dropped them to the 10th-highest mark in the NFL through six weeks. Last season, the Chiefs were a little worse, committing the seventh-most penalty yards in the NFL. The flags were certainly an unwelcome sight for the second week in a row.
The Chiefs took a small step forward in their third-down conversion ranking after a 9-for-14 performance on Monday, now ranking second in the NFL with a 53.8% conversion rate on the year. They finished last season in first place with a 47.6% conversion rate. Their opponents on Sunday, the Denver Broncos, currently sit 29th in the NFL with a paltry 35.9%, so look for that to play a deciding factor in the game.
The defense took a small step forward in these rankings as well after holding the Bills' first place third-down offense in the league to 4-for-9, giving the Chiefs the 15th-highest defensive third-down conversion rate in the league at 42.9%. Last year saw the Chiefs finish with a 37.1% conversion rate, so they'll look to make more strides here.
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 39 total ranking spots, the best mark in the NFL by 15 spots. Their opponents for Week 7, the Broncos, check in as the fifth-most-similar team to last season, which should play nicely for a Chiefs team that beat them by a combined score of 53-9. Overall, Kansas City's team identity has not changed much from last season's Super Bowl roster, which is great news for the champs.