Kansas City Chiefs have a legitimate top 10 defense

ArmchairAddict1

The Kansas City Chiefs defense had another dominant performance against the Chicago Bears. So just how good is this Chiefs defense?

The Kansas City Chiefs dismantled the Chicago Bears 26-3 on Sunday Night Football. It was the Chiefs fifth straight win and second straight game where they held their opponent to just 3 points. While Patrick Mahomes and the offense had their share of great plays (especially in the first half) it was the defense that once again really shined in this game. Over the course of this five game winning streak, the Kansas City defense has put up fantastic numbers. But just how good is this defense?

With All-Pro caliber offensive players like Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill on offense, the general consensus has been that the Chiefs defense just needs to be “ok” in order for this team to have a shot to do something in the playoffs. The defense last season was not “ok”, it was just plain bad. When you compare last year’s numbers and where they ranked in the NFL to where the Chiefs are now after 15 games, you can see a huge improvement.

2018 Defense:

  • 26.3 points per game (24th)
  • 405.5 yards per game (31st)
  • 5.9 yards per play (24th)
  • 273.4 passing yards per game (31st)
  • 64.2% completions (15th)
  • 132.1 rushing yards per game (27th)
  • 5.0 yards per attempt (31st)
  • 42% 3rd down conversions (25th)

2019 Defense:

  • 19.1 points per game (7th)
  • 348.5 yards per game (17th)
  • 5.4 yards per play (15th)
  • 219.0 passing yards per game (8th)
  • 59.9% completions (3rd)
  • 129.5 rushing yards per game (26th)
  • 5.0 yards per attempt (29th)
  • 35.8% 3rd down conversions (9th)

The Chiefs are now a top 10 scoring defense, a top 10 defense against the pass, and a top 10 defense at getting off the field on third down. There isn’t a Chiefs fan that I know that wouldn’t have been thrilled with those numbers if you told them this is how the defense would be shaping up with one game to go in the season. T

he Chiefs are clearly much improved from last season. That isn’t even a debate anymore. Yes, the run defense numbers are about the same, but if Mahomes and the offense keep producing other teams won’t be able to keep pace just running the ball. There are also signs that the run defense is coming around.

In fact, the defensive numbers over the current five game win streak have to be downright scary for the rest of the NFL. Look at those same categories for the Chiefs defense over the past five games.

Past Five Games:

  • 9.6 points per game
  • 306.6 yards per game
  • 5.0 yards per play
  • 214.2 passing yards per game
  • 53.9% completions
  • 92.4 rushing yards per game
  • 4.5 yards per carry
  • 32.3% 3rd down conversions

The Chiefs defense appears to be peaking at the right time with outstanding numbers to back them up. Now the question becomes whether should we worry that those recent numbers are because of the Chiefs facing bad offenses? While I won’t deny that the Chiefs opponents during that stretch aren’t the most high-powered offensive units in the NFL, the Chiefs did hold them well below their collective averages. I went back and looked at what the Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, and Chicago Bears are averaging over the season in terms of points, yards, and 3rd down conversions, and these are their combined averages.

  • 20.7 points per game
  • 335.7 yards per game
  • 38.6% 3rd down conversions

So the Chiefs defense held those five teams 11.1 points below their collective average, 29.1 yards below their average, and 6.3% below their averages on 3rd downs. I also went back and looked at the defensive numbers last season and the Chiefs never had anything close to a five game stretch where the defense looked this good. In fact, the Chiefs defense never went five straight games without giving up at least 30 points at any point last season. Think about that.

Whiel we shouldn’t expect the Chiefs to hold higher-powered offenses to these same low averages of the last five games, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect them to hold those same teams below their season averages. That’s what above average defenses do, and at this point, the Chiefs are an above average defense.

You simply can’t ignore a defense ranked in the top ten in points allowed, passing yards allowed, completion percentage allowed, and 3rd down conversions allowed. They also currently rank 6th in the NFL in interceptions and are 12th in sacks. The defense also added another weapon this week with the claiming of Terrell Suggs. Suggs flashed a little in his first game with the Chiefs and should give Kansas City valuable playoff experience come January.

The improved coverage is what is most impressive about this defense. Tyrann Mathieu was an absolute home run signing by Brett Veach. He’s all over the field. He’s making tackles. He’s batting down passes. He’s firing the defense up. He’s been outstanding and the fact that he wasn’t named to the Pro Bowl is an absolute crime. Charvarius Ward also deserves a shout out for his outstanding play this season. He’s been strong against both the pass and the run. Rookie Juan Thornhill has been a great addition as well. Then the Chiefs have gotten enough out of guys like Bashaud Breeland, Morris Claiborne, Kendall Fuller (who looked great playing back more against the Bears), and even Rashad Fenton has looked good in limited action.

The real hero of the improved coverage this season is probably defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. While it took a little time to gel, his scheme has really been night and day different this year in terms of the coverage in the secondary. Guys seem to know where they should be. He seems to put players in a position where they can play to their strengths and there are even noticeable in-game adjustments. It definitely looks like Andy Reid made the right hire this past offseason.

I’ve been won over by this defense down the home stretch of the season. The run defense is improving enough that if the offense can score, I don’t think opposing offenses will be able to keep up. You simply can’t keep up with Mahomes, Hill, and Kelce firing on all cylinders by running the football and the Chiefs scoring defense, pass defense, and third down defense have just been too good this season to ignore. I believe this defense is for real and coming into its own at just the right time.

So what do you think Chiefs fans? Are you believers in this defense as well or are you still worried that elite offenses could expose them? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.