Where Do the Kansas City Chiefs Rank After Nine Weeks of Action?
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 still first in the NFL in points scored, with 286 through nine weeks after 33 more against the Panthers. 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 seventh in points allowed with 183, which is a slight drop from their ranking of sixth through eight weeks. The Panthers were only the second team all year to score over 20 points against the Chiefs. Kansas City has been superb in this category. They finished 2019 ranked seventh, so they're right at that level 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 third in the NFL in yards per play at 6.35. Last week they were also ranked third, 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 13th-most yards on the fourth-most plays, giving the defense the 21st-highest (so, better than average) opponent yards per play at 5.41. That's exactly where they ranked last week, and the defense slightly behind 2019's mark of 5.36 yards per play.
The Chiefs had one giveaway against the Panthers on a fumble by Demarcus Robinson on the last play of the first half, which makes their six turnovers good for third in the NFL, which is exactly where they ended last season. They continue to be incredibly effective at limiting their turnovers so far in 2020.
The defense failed to record a turnover for the first time this season and rank fourth in the NFL with 14 takeaways. They were first 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 +8 turnover differential is second-best in the NFL.
The Chiefs picked up eight penalties against the Panthers, dropping their rank slightly from eighth-most to seventh-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 11th-highest to eighth-highest. Last season, the Chiefs were slightly worse here, committing the seventh-most penalty yards in the NFL.
The Chiefs had a solid third-down showing against the Panthers, as they went 6-for-11 and now rank fourth in the NFL in conversion percentage at exactly 50.0%. 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 held steady in these rankings after holding the Panthers offense to 7-for-16, maintaining the Chiefs' 24th-highest (ninth-lowest) defensive third-down conversion rate in the league at 39.3%. 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 30 total ranking spots, the best mark in the NFL by five spots. After their Week 10 bye, their opponents for Week 11, the Las Vegas Raiders, check in at 11th in that department. 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.