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 second in the NFL in points scored with 348 through 11 games after putting up 27 more against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That mark puts them ahead of their 2019 rank where they finished fifth. Patrick Mahomes and the offense are humming along and piling up points just as everyone expected they would.
The Chiefs are sixth in points allowed with 238, which is a slight tick up from their seventh-place ranking through ten games. Kansas City has been superb in this category. They finished 2019 ranked seventh, so they're slightly above that level in 2020.
Yards Per Play
The Chiefs are currently first in the NFL in total yards and ninth in total plays run on offense, which ranks them first in the NFL in yards per play at 6.46. They were ranked second through 10 games, and in 2019, the Chiefs' offense finished with 6.22 yards per play, good for second in the NFL. Yes, the Chiefs offense is actually performing at a higher level than they were in their Super Bowl campaign, and by a pretty healthy margin.
Defensively, the Chiefs allow the 15th-most yards on the 19th-most plays, giving the defense the 16th-highest (so, right at the midpoint) opponent yards per play at 5.66. They were ranked 19th through 10 games, so the Bucs game dropped them a few spots here, and the defense is slightly behind 2019's mark of 5.36 yards per play.
The Chiefs had one giveaway against Tampa Bay on a Mahomes fumble, his first lost fumble of the season, which makes their eight turnovers good for second-fewest in the NFL. That is exactly where they ranked through 10 games and is one rank better than they finished in 2019. They continue to be incredibly effective at limiting their turnovers in 2020.
The defense picked off Tom Brady two times and now ranks seventh in the NFL with 17 takeaways. They were also ranked seventh through 10 games, and they finished last season as the 10th-best team in that department. This is an area that is now perhaps the team's biggest strength. Their +9 turnover differential is third-best in the NFL. Mahomes in particular has been the driving force of the turnover differential, as his three giveaways are the lowest among all QBs with over 100 pass attempts this season.
The Chiefs picked up 10 penalties against the Bucs, keeping their rank from last week as the third-most penalized team in football. They finished 2019 in the middle with the 18th-most penalties, so this is one area that has seen quite a bit of falling off in 2020.
The total penalty yards are also a problem, as expected with a high number of penalties. The Chiefs have racked up the eighth-most penalty yards through 11 games, after ranking ninth through 10 games. Last season, the Chiefs were slightly worse here, earning the seventh-most penalty yards in the NFL.
The Chiefs had a solid third-down showing against the Buccaneers, as they went 6-for-12 and are now back on top of the NFL rankings in conversion percentage at 50.4%. They finished last season in first place as well with a 47.6% conversion rate, which is a good sign that the offense is as deadly as ever. Last week, they were second to only the Las Vegas Raiders, but an embarrassing showing in Atlanta dropped the silver and black down to third.
The defense had a great third-down showing against the Buccaneers, holding Tom Brady's offense to only 3-for-9, keeping the Chiefs in the middle of the pack in defensive third-down conversion rate at 40.8%, good for 17th-highest. Last year saw the Chiefs finish with a 37.1% conversion rate, so they're checking in slightly worse this season, but overall pretty similar.
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 33 total ranking spots, the best mark in the NFL by 10 spots. Next up for the Chiefs is the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football, who are the 10th-most consistent team from a season ago. Kansas City's team identity has not changed much at all from last season's Super Bowl roster, which is great news for the defending champs.