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 452 through 15 games after putting up only 17 against the Atlanta Falcons. Their second-place ranking puts them ahead of their 2019 rank where they finished fifth. Their 17 points against Atlanta marks the second-lowest output in the Mahomes era, trailing only the disastrous 13-point outing against the Colts last season.
The Chiefs are sixth in points allowed with 324, which is two spots better than where they ranked through 14 games. Kansas City has been superb in this category. They finished 2019 ranked seventh, so they're right in that range again in 2020.
Yards Per Play
The Chiefs are currently first in the NFL in total yards and fifth in total plays run on offense, which ranks them first in the NFL in yards per play at 6.34. They were also ranked first through 14 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.
Defensively, the Chiefs allow the 17th-most yards on the 19th-most plays, giving the defense the 14th-highest (so, close to the midpoint) opponent yards per play at 5.58. They were ranked 18th through 14 games, and the defense is still running a little behind 2019's mark of 5.36 yards per play.
Mahomes threw his sixth interception of the season on his first career pick in a goal-to-go situation (he had thrown 50 touchdowns without an interception) and added a lost fumble for two giveaways against Atlanta. Their 15 giveaways rank them fourth-best in the NFL and equals their total giveaways from the 2019 season when they finished third-best.
The defense came up with their 22nd takeaway of the season with a key red zone fumble recovery to rank them fifth-best in the NFL, which is where they ranked last week. Last season they finished the year 10th with 23 takeaways, and having a top-five defense in the takeaway department combined with a top-five offense in the giveaway department is certainly a recipe for success in the NFL.
The Chiefs picked up six penalties against the Falcons and are the fourth-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 15 games, one spot better than last week. Last season, the Chiefs had the seventh-most penalty yards in the NFL.
The Chiefs offense was pretty bad on third down against the Falcons. Kansas City was 5-for-13 but gained one spot, up to third, in the NFL in conversion percentage at 48.1%. 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, even if their ranking is a few spots lower.
The defense also had a lackluster game on third down against Atlanta, as the Falcons went 6-for-12, dropping the Chiefs four spots in defensive third-down conversion rate from 21st-highest to 17th-highest at 40.9%. Last year saw the Chiefs finish with a 37.1% conversion rate, so they're checking in slightly worse this season.
The Chiefs have once again lost their title as the most consistent team in football to the Detroit Lions. 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, three more than Detroit. (Obviously, the Chiefs have still had the most impressive run it back-style effort, as they far outpace the Lions in the rankings and standings.)
The season finale for the Chiefs is a divisional matchup with Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers, who rank 12th on the consistency 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.