It’s becoming clear that Kareem Hunt is the winning formula for the Kansas City Chiefs this season (or not, if they ignore him).
The Kansas City Chiefs upset the Los Angeles Chargers in a late-season divisional showdown to maintain control of the AFC West and increase their win streak vs L.A. to eight. The talk of the week was mostly about the Chargers’ own winning streak, and Las Vegas was picking them to defeat the Chiefs. The Chiefs had other plans as they rode on the back of rookie running back Kareem Hunt to dominate a divisional opponent once again.
Whether head coach Andy Reid or offensive coordinator Matt Nagy is calling the plays, there’s one thing that they know they have to do: run the ball against divisional opponents. Hunt hasn’t carried the ball less than 17 times when playing an AFC West team this season, and it’s proven to be successful. This Chiefs offense relies on the prosperity of their rookie star, and if they wish to continue down the stretch and into the playoffs, they better keep feeding him the ball.
Hunt had no problem stomping all over the Chargers defense, racking up 155 yards on the ground and another 51 in the air. He additionally emerged with a pair of touchdowns to bolster his stats. We are starting to see that start of the season from Hunt that made this team a dominant force early in the season.
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It’s conspicuous that this offense revolves around how many times Hunt is given the ball. When the Chiefs give him the ball 17 times, they have gone 7-2. However, when they’ve given him less than that they’ve gone 1-4. The two losses with Hunt receiving his fair quota of carries were both within a field goal.
The once rookie MVP candidate started off the season with six all-purpose touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season. He would then go on a nine-game stretch of not finding the end zone. During that nine-game stretch was the Chiefs streak of losing six out of seven games. Four of those losses were games that Hunt was given the ball eleven or fewer carries.
It’s fair to say that the offensive line has improved over these last couple divisional games and that is most certainly part of Hunt’s success. The consistency of him being able to break tackles in the backfield and get to the second level of the defense consistently has always been there though. The offensive line was not part of Hunt running for 97 yards after contact in Saturday nights game.
Leading up to Saturday’s showdown, Hunt was already leading the league with 122 evaded tackles on the year. He added to that total on Saturday, evading seven tackles against the Chargers. The formula to the Chiefs winning games is simple: give Hunt the ball. Even when the run game struggles, keep trying. Hunt ranks third in the NFL before last night’s game in breakaway runs going 15 yards or more. Whatever the Chiefs have to do, get the ball into Hunt’s hands whether it’s running or receiving.