Last week, I wanted to check in on how the Kansas City Chiefs stacked up in various team statistical categories through two weeks. 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.
I'm trying a slightly different format this week, as I think it will read better moving forward. 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.
This year, I am going to track the Chiefs team ranks 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 fourth in the NFL in points scored, with 91 through three weeks. That's an improvement from last week when they were ranked eighth, and slightly ahead of their 2019 rank where they finished fifth.
The Chiefs are sixth in points allowed, with 60 (exactly 20 in each of their first three games) which is an improvement on their ranking of ninth through two weeks. They finished 2019 ranked seventh, so they are right in line with their 2019 performance in points so far.
Yards Per Play
The Chiefs are currently fifth in the NFL in total yards and seventh in total plays run on offense, which ranks them seventh in the NFL in yards per play at 6.19. Last week they were down at 17th, so their offensive performance against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3 certainly helped that statistic. In 2019, the Chiefs' offense recorded right around this mark at 6.22 yards per play, but over the course of the season that ranked them as high as second in the NFL. That means the average yards per play across the entire NFL is up through the first three weeks of the year and should normalize a bit as the season progresses, while the Chiefs are right on the mark for where they finished last year.
Defensively, the Chiefs allow the 11th-fewest yards on the 10th-fewest plays, giving the defense a middle-of-the-road 16th ranking in opponent yards per play at 5.62. That's an improvement over last week's 23rd ranking, but running slightly behind 2019's 13th-ranked defense which allowed 5.36 yards per play. The defense has faced three very talented offenses in the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, and Baltimore Ravens, and should benefit in this metric from the schedule easing up later in the year.
The Chiefs turned the ball over for the first time in Week 3 but still rank second in the NFL in total giveaways with the one fumble, which aligns them closely with last season's offensive rank of third. They are still incredibly effective at limiting their turnovers so far in 2020.
The defense has one takeaway in each of the three games so far, ranking them 18th in the NFL. They finished last season as the tenth-best team in that department, so that's an area that the defense will look to improve upon.
The Chiefs are currently right in the middle of the pack with their number of penalties, ranking 16th with 18 penalties through three weeks. They finished 2019 in the middle as well, with the 15th-fewest penalties, so they aren't committing any more fouls per game than they were last season.
The story has been in the penalty yardage department, where their 133 yards of penalties through three weeks ranks as the 12th-fewest in the NFL. Last season, the Chiefs tended to commit more of the high-yardage penalties, ranking 26th in total penalty yards. So far they have not been getting the big 15-yard and spot-foul pass interference penalties that really turn drives around, which is a great sign.
The Chiefs offense has once again proven to be the best at third-down conversions, ranking first in the NFL with a 58.5% conversion rate. After starting the first two weeks at eighth in the NFL, the 10-of-13 performance against Baltimore vaulted Kansas City into first place, which is where they finished last season with a 47.6% conversion rate. Clearly, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid have as good of a grip on third down play-calling as anyone in football.
The defense has been no slouch on third down rate either, ranking 13th-best in the league with a 40.6% conversion rate so far in 2020. Last year saw the Chiefs finish 11th in that category with 37.1%, so they have kept that momentum going so far through three weeks.
Overall, the entire team has shown remarkable consistency in these major categories through the beginning portion of 2020. The only team in the NFL that aligns more closely with its 2019 rankings so far in 2020 is the 0-3 New York Jets, who are struggling in every phase of the game much like they did a season ago. The Chiefs, however, appear not to have lost their mojo from last season's Super Bowl run, and that would be very bad news for the rest of the NFL.