The Kansas City Chiefs have had a wild year. After a 3-4 start and what seemed to be a challenging road ahead for a playoff spot, the Chiefs now sit atop the AFC. They’re the first AFC team to reach double-digit wins and are the only team in the conference that has clinched a playoff spot going into Week 17.
The Chiefs have won eight straight games and are playing great on both sides of the ball.
It has been a weird year for the Chiefs offense, consistently putting up a lot of points while committing a lot of turnovers at the same time. Despite being top five in the NFL in passing yards and touchdown passes, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is also in the top five in interceptions thrown. Tipped passes have played a big role in Mahomes’ high number of interceptions.
The Kansas City Chiefs are the most complete team in the NFL going into January.
However, the Chiefs have learned to limit their turnovers recently. The Chiefs have not given away the football in two of their last three games while averaging 39.3 points per game during that stretch.
Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce and Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill have had their faults this year with ball security. But both players have surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season. Hill is fifth in that category while Kelce is seventh.
Meanwhile, Kansas City’s offensive line, full of newcomers, has quietly played great for most of the year. The line is anchored by rookie center Creed Humphrey as he is surrounded by left tackle Orlando Brown, left guard Joe Thuney and rookie right guard Trey Smith, all of which are among some of the best at their offensive line positions.
Kansas City’s defense was a liability to start the year, surrendering 32.6 points per game in the first five weeks. The Chiefs’ defense has not only improved but has played consistently well the last 10 games, allowing teams to score 14.3 points per game during that 10-game stretch while holding offenses to fewer than 20 points in eight of their last 10 games.
A big reason for the defense’s improvement is due to the defensive line. Chris Jones returned to his natural position at defensive tackle while Frank Clark improved and Melvin Ingram joined the team to help the Chiefs defense with their much-needed improvements.
Linebackers Willie Gay and rookie Nick Bolton have been great as both are showing they have a great future working together at the linebacking corp. In addition, Anthony Hitchens and Ben Niemann have shown some improvements.
Tyrann Mathieu is one of the league’s best safeties and he leads a young secondary as safety Juan Thornhill and cornerbacks Charvarius Ward, Rashad Fenton, and L’Jarius Sneed have been solid and aggressive. Safety Dan Sorensen got off to a rough start, missing tackles and allowing pass-catchers to slip by. But he has also improved over the past few weeks.
The Chiefs missed three starters on defense in Week 15 and missed Kelce and kicker Harrison Butker in Week 16 due to COVID protocols. Despite their absence, the Chiefs still found a way to adapt and come away victorious.
Outside of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and his recent collarbone injury, the Chiefs are at full strength, which is very rare going into the month of January as backup running backs Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore have played great lately. More importantly, the Chiefs could soon clinch the No. 1 seed and be the sole AFC team to be on a bye during the wild-card round, which is a bigger deal now because of the 17th game added by the NFL this year to giving the top seed a well-deserved rest.
The Chiefs hit their stride at the right time. The offense is back to its normal form while the defense has been more sound and stout the last two months. The Chiefs are the most complete team in the NFL right now. The only team that can stop the Chiefs are themselves. If the Chiefs take care of the football and play to their strengths, they will be on their way to a fourth straight AFC Championship appearance and a third straight Super Bowl appearance.