Chiefs DVOA Analysis: Week 8


What an incredible, emotional, unforgettable game Monday night was. As happy and excited as everyone was, still is, and should be about that win, a loss would have been equally emotional, just in an extremely negative way. More devastating actually and we came very, very close to experiencing just that. Fate, as it has done for four games in a row now, smiled on the Chiefs once again. Be glad and rejoice.

I now must ask you to ask yourself some questions. By winning four consecutive games against otherwise flawed or unlucky teams, are you now feeling just a little bit like the Chiefs might be on the verge of “unstoppable force” class? Are you looking more forward to the games against New England and Pittsburgh because you’re totally convinced that the Chiefs will simply roll over the 0-7 Dolphins and the Tebowing Donkeys?

Not so fast.

Ground Control to Major Tom Tom, a dose of anti-homerish, unemotional, myth busting, courtesy Football Outsiders statistics, assuming you are up to hearing it, awaits beyond the jump.

Let’s be brutally honest here. The Chiefs rank in the bottom half, the lower bottom in some respects, of the league in many of the most important categories. Worse, they haven’t really shown significant progress, on paper anyway, since the season began.

It’s time to take off the blinders because we are simply not that good and playing the way we are, odds are that the extreme good fortune we’ve been witnessing is not very likely to continue. The Chiefs are basically a stagnant, sloppy team that’s managed to somehow slop out four wins. Frankly, I’m not entirely convinced that these four wins might not be the grand total of our wins for the entire season.

There is a little good news to report. For the first time this season, Jackie Battle makes it into the rankings and what an impressive entry it was. He arrives, statistically, as the #2 RB in DVOA. My boy’s looking pretty good so far. Special teams also continues its upward progress – I’m loving that.

On the down side though, our offensive efficiency, especially with Matt Cassel at the helm leaves much to be desired. We have weapons, we have certain strengths, but Matt Cassel needs to do more, in a more consistent fashion, to take this offense to the next level. That said, I don’t believe our lackluster offense is 100% Cassel’s fault – but more on that a little later.

This week, I’m introducing another statistical slant, Weighted DVOA (see chart below), to better gauge recent trending.

What this chart essentially shows me is that our recent wins have more to do with good fortune (along with a big play here and there), than overall improving, consistent play, especially on the offensive side of the ball. In other words, the way we are playing now is about the same as we’ve playing all season long. Put another way, we will need to get better if we expect to continue winning games.

We continue to show major weakness in the trenches. On the offensive side of the ball, as I hinted at earlier, this is something that has to be hampering Cassel both in the passing and running game. Outside of a couple of key series, our defensive line, generally speaking, is just not getting the job done. In terms of generating pressure on opposing QBs, our DL in fact ranks last in the league. We can’t sustain that and expect to win many games.

There is at least one optimistic aspect to our victory over the Chargers that I think is worth noting. Our past schedule got harder and in turn, our future schedule got a little easier. Ugly or not, beating San Diego was without question, a valuable accomplishment in light of our post season hopes and aspirations.

Against Miami, expect a tough game. In major ways, the Dolphins match up fairly evenly with the Chiefs. They are generally better than the Chiefs in the trenches. What they seem to lack is an abundance of dominant offensive weapons. Even though their offensive line is last in the league at pass protection, one can’t simply overlook the fact that our defensive line is also last in the league at rushing the passer. In all other aspects their OL and DL is better than the Chiefs OL and DL.

I think the way we beat Miami when they have the ball is to bring more CB and S blitzes against them. We should be able to contain their receivers by going man-to-man. Kelly Gregg will also need to be in top form to keep the Dolphins from running straight at us, which is what they do best and something we haven’t shown a consistent ability to defend against.

When we have the ball, because Miami’s secondary is their weakest link, Cassel needs to be crisp, and we need to continue to see the involvement and improvement of Jonathon Baldwin along with Bowe and Breaston. When we run, we should avoid the outsides and center, and focus mainly on the B gaps, the two weakest points in their run defense. Oh, and keep the ball out of Thom Thumb’s hands.

That’s my Double Take.

What’s your take, Addicts?