KC Chiefs need to fix their serious turnover issues
There is no getting around it: Turnovers are a major, major problem for the Kansas City Chiefs. It is a problem that has been evident for a while now, and once again, we saw it come to the forefront against the Denver Broncos.
The Chiefs had three turnovers on Sunday in Denver—all three were interceptions thrown by Patrick Mahomes—and it almost cost them a game that, frankly, should never have been close.
Kansas City got off to a flyer against the Broncos. Up 27-0 in the second quarter, it looked like the game was very quickly going to turn into a blowout. But then the Chiefs got hit hard by the turnover bus.
The turnover problem is one that the Chiefs can fix themselves, and they will certainly need to address it going forward.
Mahomes threw his first pick of the game in the second quarter. On the ensuing drive, Denver would go on to score their first touchdown of the game. 27-7. Then, the next time KC had the ball, they gave it right back after Mahomes threw his second interception in six plays. Once again, Denver went down the field and scored their second touchdown just before the end of the first half. 27-14.
The Broncos got the ball to start the third quarter, and just as they had done on their previous two drives, they marched down the field and into the end zone. 27-21. It was a whole new ball game. After looking like they could beat Denver 50-0 at one point, the Chiefs now found themselves in a dogfight – with the turnovers the main enabler behind Denver’s resurgence.
In the fourth quarter, it happened again. Still leading by six, Mahomes’ third pick came late in the game with the Chiefs already in field goal range. Instead of a drive that could have iced the game, Kansas City had handed the ball—and momentum—back to Denver for the third time that day.
On another day, like the one in Indianapolis back in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts, those turnovers could have too much to overcome. Thankfully against Denver, two turnovers from KC’s defense – a pick-six by Willie Gay and an interception by L’Jarius Sneed the drive after the Chiefs’ third turnover – helped save the day.
But as we have already seen this season, that might not always be the case.
The turnover problem is nothing new. In fact, the Chiefs have had a giveaway in each of their last eight games. Against the Bengals, Travis Kelce had a crucial fumble late in the game that set up what would be the game-winning touchdown drive for Cincinnati. We saw two turnovers against the Rams and three against Jacksonville too. Earlier in the year against Indianapolis, a muffed punt and a late interception proved costly as KC blew a game you would have expected them to win easily.
Overall, the Chiefs have had at least one turnover in 11 of their 13 games played this season. Only twice – against the LA Chargers in Week 2 and the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5 – has Kansas City not turned the ball over. Kansas City’s turnover differential of -5 is tied for 27th in the NFL, alongside the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns, and they are tied for 26th in total giveaways with 19.
The turnovers have been a big problem for the Chiefs this season. We have already seen it cost them games, and if the problem continues, it will absolutely cost them games in the future, especially in the playoffs.
But as infuriating as the giveaways have been, there is one sign that things might start taking a turn for the better, and we only need to look as far back as last year. The turnover problem was actually even worse at this same point last season before the Chiefs were able to turn things around.
Kansas City had 23 giveaways through the first 14 weeks of last season, four more than they have at the same point this time around. The Chiefs had 19 turnovers in a seven-game stretch last year, and they also had two games with four turnovers on offense last season, something they are yet to do this season. From the same point on in the regular season in 2021, the Chiefs only had one more game that saw them turn the ball over—hopefully a trend we see replicated once again.
The turnover problem is one that the Chiefs can fix themselves, and they will certainly need to address it going forward. Hopefully, we see Kansas City turn this trend around rather than just turn the ball over.