2013 Chiefs DVOA Analysis: Week 7

AA - Double Take

I don’t really think of Andy Reid as the Kool Aid guy. For me, he’s Happy Red Buddha guy. It just makes better Karma sense.

NFL Week 7 is in the books and the Chiefs have emerged as the lone undefeated team. Thank you Indianapolis Colts. Depending upon who is doing the ranking, the Chiefs are considered anywhere from being the best team in the NFL to around 5th or 6th best. What do you think?

Power Rankings are great for sparking debate but they really don’t mean much. I prefer to look at statistical evaluations to get a less subjective view of a team’s true strengths and weaknesses and that’s what we do here using Football Outsiders DVOA and DYAR statistics to break things down a bit for the Chiefs.

Big picture first:

DVOA 7 - 2013 Table A

What stands out after 7 weeks of play is that the Chiefs are playing very effectively on both defense and special teams.

For instance, taking a look at FO’s Drive Stat Charts, one discovers that the Chiefs are dominating the league in starting line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. Field position is huge in the NFL and success in this battle is primarily attributable to the combination of solid special teams play, and an unrelenting defense.

On offense, it’s a different story where they rank 18th overall with a DVOA in negative territory.  With the exception of Jamaal Charles, all offensive skill positions have been performing below average, or, in Dwayne Bowe’s case, below their positional peers. The take away here is that Jamaal Charles is essentially the entire offense and the Chiefs will continue to struggle at scoring points until Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, and the rest start making more of an impact.

Digging a little deeper:

DVOA 7 - 2013 Table BEven though the Chiefs are struggling some in the playmaker department, there are encouraging signs on offense. Specifically, the offensive line is doing quite well in the run game—they mainly need to step it up in pass protection.  On the defensive side of the ball, they are excellent at beating pass protection and are now even performing as one of the better run defenses in the league as well.

The popular knock on the Chiefs is that they have an enjoyed an easy schedule so far. It’s a fair observation. The fact that Denver’s remaining schedule is viewed as being easier than the Chiefs’ along with the fact that Denver is a really strong team both have a lot to do with the fact that they are still projected to win both the division and the conference.

The best news coming out of Week 7 is that the Broncos have shown that they can be beaten, while no team has shown the same to be true of the Chiefs.

Looking forward, the Chiefs, on paper anyway, should be able to take care of business with the Browns as long as they continue to play at or above their current level. That said, the Browns should not be expected to just hand another victory to the Chiefs.

For instance, Cleveland’s special teams have been playing well also, and thus the Chiefs’ offense may not be able to rely so much on favorable field position as they have in previous contests.  The Browns have also demonstrated strength at defending against #1 WRs and slot WRs, which probably means that Donnie Avery, Anthony Fasano, and Jamaal Charles will need to be a little more involved, matchup-wise, to compensate for this. When the Chiefs run the ball, I would expect them to find a greater success rate when going left of center, than right of center. The Browns are 5th in the league at defending runs that go between the left guard and left tackle.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The road trip to Buffalo is likely to prove a much tougher challenge, as the Bills, believe it or not, are ranked as the 6th best overall defense. They currently rank 4th against the pass and 14th against the run. On offense, the Bills are comparable to the Chiefs. The upcoming game against the Browns will be no picnic. Week 9 will be even tougher.

The Chiefs schedule just gets tougher and tougher the deeper we go into the season.

Every team they face from here on is gunning for them with an added dose of intensity. What all that means is that we are on the verge of finding out what this team is really made of.

That’s my Double Take. What’s your take, Addicts?

Topics: Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

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  • Lyle Graversen

    Thanks again DD, I love getting this info every week. I’m with you, I think KC should win this week, but am anxious to see what happens in Buffalo. The Bills seem to play everybody tough, so getting a road win there will be a challenge, but if KC wants to be one of the big dogs it’s a game they should get. I have to admit that I’m surprised that the OL run blocking is rated that high. I haven’t thought they looked bad in run blocking, but I haven’t thought they looked great either. I would have guessed they’d be in the 10-15 range.

    • toperspective

      I agree re the Bills. They have had a pretty tough schedule so it should be a tough match-up.

    • DoubleD

      My pleasure, well put and I agree with your point on Buffalo.

      The OL has been doing pretty well in run blocking. Three weeks ago, they were ranked 9th and have been improving ever since. The big concern with the OL of course is pass blocking – week 3 they were ranked 26th, week 5 they were 19th, now in week 7 slipping back to 22nd. Hopefully a lot more focus is being put on pass protection. Having Sherman and Fasano healthy should also help out a lot going forward.

      I think an even bigger story is how well the DL is doing at defending the run. They were ranked 18th in that category back in Week 4. Now look at them.

      I’m really hoping and praying that Smith and co can get the passing game going. If THAT starts happening, then things start to get a whole lot brighter for this offense. It makes me extremely nervous that Jamaal Charles is our entire offense. Can somebody else please step up?

  • toperspective

    It’s hard for Bowe to have an impact unless he gets the ball thrown to him.

    • DoubleD

      Bowe has struggled for more than a couple seasons now. You can’t hang all that on Alex Smith. I expect things to improve in that department as the season progresses.

      • toperspective

        If Bowe is an elite receiver, then a big chunk can be hung on Smith. If Bowe isn’t an elite receiver then why did they give him the big contract this season?

        • DoubleD

          My sense is that the previous regime did not leave Dorsey and Reid in very good position with regard to Bowe and that their backs were against the wall. I just don’t think they had any good options/alternatives other than the resign Bowe under an inflated contract.

          • toperspective

            Perhaps. But I have to believe Bowe is better than he has shown so far. Smith needs to show a little trust in Bowe.

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