The Kansas City Chiefs begin their title defense against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Who needs to step up for the team?
So it begins. The 2020 regular season, with all of its COVID hurdles, was simply a formality for the reigning champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Though there were questions for the team, most saw them as the obvious favorite to win Super Bowl LV in Florida.
The Chiefs’ title defense begins against the surging Cleveland Browns, an organization that made the playoffs and won a playoff game for the first time in ages on both accounts. The Browns are riding high, but they haven’t faced an opponent like the Chiefs all season long.
There have been, and will continue to be, some who doubt the Chiefs’ credibility as Super Bowl favorites. To the detractors’ credit, the Chiefs have looked lackadaisical at times and flawed at others. They’ve also looked rather dominant against actual contenders, something most of the remaining teams cannot say.
Still, the Chiefs will be relying on some new and old faces to step their games up in the 2020 NFL Playoffs if they hope to repeat as champions.
Going into last season’s playoffs the Chiefs had put together their usual offensive production, ranking among the best in the NFL. Against a fairly decent schedule, with Patrick Mahomes missing a handful of games, they averaged an impressive 28.2 points per game. This was good for fifth place overall.
They took that production to another level in the playoffs. Their overall average of 39 points per game was boosted by a monster 51-point game, where they scored a NFL record-tying seven straight touchdowns, but they scored over 30 points every game.The primary difference seemed to be the offense’s utilization of the running back as a receiver.
After averaging only a little over two targets per game during the regular season, Damien Williams averaged nearly seven targets per game during the team’s playoff run. This was similar to the 2018 playoffs where his targets jumped from four targets per game, in the games following Kareem Hunt‘s release, to seven targets/game in the playoffs.
It’s a major reason why the Clyde Edwards-Helaire pick seemed to make so much sense. A running back who played in a pro-style offense in college who also had great production as a receiver would be a perfect fit.
The Chiefs didn’t utilize him quite as expected, but I have a feeling that Andy Reid was saving a little bit for the playoffs. As luck would have it, in the face of an injury to Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs were able to pick up Le’Veon Bell.
Bell is a great receiving running back. If he can duplicate a portion of the production fans were accustomed to in Pittsburgh, and Reid does in fact have some special schematics up his sleeve, there’s a good chance we see this offense take a large step in the playoffs.