Nov 01, 2015; London, United Kingdom; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (19) celebrates his touchdown during the second half against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
On offense the Chiefs were absolutely horrible at converting third downs to start the season. In their first six games they converted just 27.8 percent of their third downs. To give you an idea of just how bad that is, that percentage would have ranked dead last in the NFL the past two seasons (and stop and think about how bad some offenses have been the past two years).
However, the past two weeks the Chiefs have converted 58.6 percent of their third downs. That percentage would have ranked first in the entire NFL over the past two seasons by a sizable margin. There simply isn’t a more drastic turnaround and unlike the rushing yards and quarterback sacks this stat isn’t skewed by if a team is playing with a lead or coming from behind.
The numbers are almost as impressive on the defensive side of the ball as well. In Kansas City’s first six games the defense allowed opposing offenses to convert about 37.8% of their third downs. Now, that percentage is already pretty good, in fact, it would have ranked Kansas City in the top half of the league the past two seasons. However, the past two games that same number has been off the charts as the Kansas City defense only allowed Pittsburgh and Detroit to convert a combine four third downs for a percentage of just 18.2%.
So Kansas City’s improved play the past two weeks has been all about winning on third down. On offense they went from the worst team in the league on third down to playing like one of the best the past two games. On defense they went from solid on third down to one of the elite defenses in all the NFL on third down. That’s huge.
Next: What to make of everything?