Will continuous red zone issues doom the Chiefs offense?
Lastly, Chiefs fans know all about Kansas City's red zone struggles this season. The Chiefs ranked 17th in the NFL this season with a 54.1% red zone touchdown percentage. This means Kansas City reached the red zone 61 times in 2023 but only scored 33 touchdowns on those trips. Sadly, that trend has continued into the playoffs.
Kicker Harrison Butker has been nails this season, but his five kicks from within the red zone are concerning. The Chiefs settled for three points four times in the Wild Card round, while only doing so once in the divisional round. Those kicks resulted in 15 points, but Kansas City left 20 points on the table. Which would you rather have: five kicks or five touchdowns?
The Hardman end-around and fumble against the Bills have highlighted the significant problem with red zone playcalling. Kansas City gets too cute once near the goalline, leaving plenty of points off the board by doing so. It is unacceptable that an offense with a Hall of Fame coach and the best quarterback of this generation only ranks 16th in total touchdowns this season.
Granted, the ratio has somewhat improved in the postseason. Kansas City has five total touchdowns in their two postseason games, compared to six field goals. Baltimore scored four touchdowns against Houston and kicked two field goals for reference.
The struggles in the red zone are a problem against Baltimore because the Ravens are among the league's best at keeping the opposition out of the end zone. They allowed only 20 red zone touchdowns all season, with a 40.8% red zone touchdown percentage ranking second in the NFL. Baltimore kept the Texans out of the red zone altogether, only further compounding the offensive game plan's importance.
Ultimately, this will be a tight game, no matter the outcome. Kansas City has to win in the margins. Red zone opportunities are rare against the Ravens. If they cannot make the most of them, their chances of another Super Bowl berth may slip away.