Where Do the Kansas City Chiefs Rank After 12 Games?

Twelve games into the NFL season, let's take a look at where the Kansas City Chiefs fall in a few key rankings compared to their production in 2019.
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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.

Points

The Chiefs are second in the NFL in points scored with 370 through 12 games after putting up 22 against the Denver Broncos. That may have snapped their NFL-record 25-game streak of scoring 23+ points, but their NFL-record 26-game streak of scoring 22+ points is very much alive. Their second-place ranking 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 254, which is right where they ranked through 11 games as well. Kansas City has been superb in this category. They finished 2019 ranked seventh, so they're slightly better than that so far in 2020.

Yards Per Play

The Chiefs are currently first in the NFL in total yards and 10th in total plays run on offense, which ranks them first in the NFL in yards per play at 6.51. They were also ranked first through 11 games, and in 2019, the Chiefs' offense finished with 6.22 yards per play, which was 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 16th-most yards on the 20th-most plays, giving the defense the 16th-highest (so, right at the midpoint) opponent yards per play at 5.64. They were also ranked 16th through 11 games, and the defense is running behind 2019's mark of 5.36 yards per play.

Turnovers

The Chiefs did not turn the ball over against the Broncos on Sunday Night Football, which makes their eight turnovers on the year the best mark in the NFL. They were second-best in the league through 11 games and third-best in 2019. They continue to be incredibly effective at limiting their turnovers in 2020.

The defense - specifically Tyrann Mathieu - picked off Drew Lock two times and ranks seventh in the NFL with 19 takeaways. They were also ranked seventh through 11 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 +11 turnover differential is tied for the best in the NFL. Mahomes in particular has been the driving force of the huge turnover differential, as his three giveaways are the lowest among all QBs with over 100 pass attempts this season.

Penalties

The Chiefs picked up five penalties against the Broncos and are now the second-most penalized team in football. They finished 2019 in the middle with the 18th-most penalties, so this is the main area that has seen quite a bit of change 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 12 games, their same rank as the previous week. Last season, the Chiefs were slightly worse here, earning the seventh-most penalty yards in the NFL.

Third Downs

The Chiefs offense had their second poor outing on third down against the Broncos this year. After going 0-for-7 in their first matchup, KC followed up by going 3-for-10 in Week 13 and are now second in the NFL in conversion percentage at 49.0%. They finished last season in first place with a 47.6% conversion rate, which is a good sign that the offense is as deadly as ever. They now trail the 9-3 Buffalo Bills in this category by 0.3%.

The defense had a bit of a hard time getting the Broncos off the field on third down, with Denver going 7-for-13, dropping the Chiefs two spots in defensive third-down conversion rate from 17th-highest to 15th-highest at 42.0%. Last year saw the Chiefs finish with a 37.1% conversion rate, so they're checking in slightly worse this season, but overall, pretty similarly.

Summary

For the first time since I began tracking these metrics in Week 3, The Chiefs are no longer 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 different than their 2019 counterparts by 38 total ranking spots, the second-most consistent team and trailing the Detroit Lions by eight total ranking spots. 

Next up for the Chiefs is a trip to the site of their Super Bowl 54 victory at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami against the Dolphins, who are one of the most inconsistent teams compared to last season, ranking 29th on the list. 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.