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 now first in the NFL in points scored, with 253 through eight weeks. That's an improvement from last week when they were ranked second and also puts them ahead of their 2019 rank where they finished fifth. Thank you, New York Jets.
The Chiefs are now sixth in points allowed with 152, which is an improvement from their ranking of ninth through seven weeks. They have been superb in this category, allowing 20 points or fewer in seven of their eight games. They finished 2019 ranked seventh, so they are basically at that level again in 2020.
Yards Per Play
The Chiefs are currently first in the NFL in total yards and seventh in total plays run on offense, which ranks them third in the NFL in yards per play at 6.29. Last week, they ranked sixth, 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.
Defensively, the Chiefs allow the 16th-most yards on the eighth-most plays, giving the defense the 21st-ranked (better than average) opponent yards per play at 5.36. That's an improvement from last week's marks, which makes sense given the struggles the Jets have on offense, and the defense is now matching 2019's mark exactly, which also allowed 5.36 yards per play.
The Chiefs didn't turn the ball over against the Jets, which makes their five turnovers good for third in the NFL in total giveaways, which is exactly where they ended last season. They continue to be incredibly effective at limiting their turnovers so far in 2020.
The defense picked up a fumble recovery against New York and now rank first in the NFL with 14 takeaways. They were second through last week and they finished last season as the 10th-best team in that department, so this is an area that is now perhaps the team's biggest strength. Their +9 turnover differential is, unsurprisingly, the best in football.
The Chiefs picked up seven penalties against the Jets, dropping their rank slightly from 10th-most to eighth-most in the league. They finished 2019 in the middle with the 18th-most penalties, so they still have some room to improve to get back to their 2019 pace.
The total penalty yards also dipped slightly from 13th-highest to 11th-highest. Last season, the Chiefs were worse here, committing the seventh-most penalty yards in the NFL.
The Chiefs got back to their third-down-converting ways after not converting a single one the previous week, as they went 7-for-13 to move up to third in the NFL in conversion percentage at 49.5%. They finished last season in first place with a 47.6% conversion rate, which indicates that third-down conversion percentages are up overall throughout the league.
The defense took a step forward in these rankings after holding the Jets' last-place third-down offense to 2-for-12, giving the Chiefs the 24th-highest (ninth-lowest) defensive third-down conversion rate in the league at 38.5%. Last year saw the Chiefs finish with a 37.1% conversion rate, so they're basically at that level again this season.
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 35 total ranking spots, the best mark in the NFL by 17 spots. Their opponents for Week 9, the Carolina Panthers, check in at 29th in that department, which makes sense given all of the changes, including the new quarterback and head coach in Carolina. Overall, Kansas City's team identity has not changed much at all from last season's Super Bowl roster, which is great news for the champs.