4 pivots Chiefs must make to secure No. 1 seed in AFC

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Chiefs have a golden opportunity to lock up the No. 1 seed and lay the groundwork for a sixth-straight AFC Championship Game in the cozy confines of Arrowhead Stadium. The right mix of a few key ingredients will create that winning recipe.
Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs / Ralf Ibing - firo sportphoto/GettyImages
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3. More Isiah Pacheco

Running back is likely the last position you expected to be highlighted in this article. For an offense that throws the football 60% of the time, that might be an odd place to look for an answer. The Chiefs are 15-1 when Isiah Pacheco has 11 or more carries, but that may not establish a clear enough causal relationship.

In his sophomore season, the Chiefs have lost both games where Pacheco had fewer than 11 carries. In those contests versus the Lions and Broncos, Kansas City averaged a paltry 14.5 points per game. In the other seven games where he's run 11 or more times, the team averages 25.5 points per game. It should also be noted that those two losses coincided with Pacheco's lowest-run usage games (under nine carries) and two of the worst offensive performances in terms of first downs (17 and 18, respectively).

Pacheco will never be a bell cow in this offense, but the best way to keep defenses honest is to give him 12-15 carries per game. Even a mildly-effective run game can help this offense stay ahead of the sticks and manage third-down situations. A smidge more balance in the back half of the season should take some pressure off of this passing game. If the Chiefs can run the football, defenses will have to commit more resources near the line of scrimmage. More box defenders in theory means a more effective play-action game.

Overall, successfully running the ball on early downs opens up your playbook. Going forward, the Chiefs should get Pacheco going early and not stray too far away as games wear on.