Can the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl?
The Kansas City Chiefs have relied heavily on the play of their defense in 2016 but is the defense up to the task of carrying the team to a Super Bowl win? While I made the case for Alex Smith and the offense being good enough to win a Super Bowl that came with a disclaimer that they would need a great defense to help them pull it off.
So do the Chiefs have a great defense or just an opportunistic one? Is there a difference?
Since we’ve been talking a lot about how the Chiefs compare to last year’s Super Bowl winning Broncos team and that team was carried by their defense, it stands to reason that we should look at how the Chiefs defense stacks up with them.
2015 Denver Broncos: 18.5 points allowed, 283.1 yards allowed, 4.4 yards/play allowed, 35% third downs allowed, 1.69 turnovers/game forced, 56.5% red zone TDs allowed
2016 Kansas City Chiefs: 19.6 points allowed, 374.1 yards allowed, 5.5 yards/play allowed, 45% third downs allowed, 1.92 turnovers/game forced, 46.7% red zone TDs allowed
If you spent much time watching these two teams play over the past two seasons these numbers should come as no surprise. The Broncos of 2015 were much better at shutting teams down early in possessions. The difference in yards per game allowed is staggering with KC giving up 91 more yards per game. The difference in third down defense is just as staggering and again it clearly shows that teams are moving the ball much easier against the Chiefs. However, that huge advantage in yards and third down conversions is only making a difference of 1.1 points per game.
That is because the 2016 Chiefs defense is better at forcing turnovers and keeping teams out of the end zone after they get down into the red zone. The turnovers forced numbers aren’t that drastic of difference but the red zone defense is. That is why I don’t think you can dismiss this 2016 Chiefs defense as relying on turnovers.
Yes, they do force a good amount of them, but the real strength of this defense seems to be their ability to shut teams out of the end zone. The win over the Raiders was a perfect example of that. The Raiders won the turnover margin by three and all three of those turnovers were in KC territory. However, the Chiefs only allowed six total points off of those three turnovers and that was the difference in the game.
Good red zone defense isn’t “fluky”. A team may not always be able to rely on forcing turnovers, but consistently good red zone defense is something that a team can rely on come postseason time. The Chiefs defense is also trending in the right direction as the season winds down. Over their past nine games since their bye week the Chiefs are only allowing 16.5 points per game. If they keep that up going into the playoffs this defense is absolutely good enough to carry this team.