With just one game remaining in the 2020 NFL season, several teams are still on the bubble, hoping to secure either a division title or wild card berth. One of those teams, however, is not the Kansas City Chiefs.
With a league-best 14-1 record, the defending Super Bowl Champions secured the No. 1 seed and earned a Wild Card round postseason bye. They will also host every AFC opponent throughout the playoffs.
While Patrick Mahomes and Company appeared to have waltzed through the rest of the NFL with little to no effort, a closer investigation reveals a different story — the Chiefs don’t have what it takes to repeat as Super Bowl Champs.
The Chiefs Have Gotten Very Lucky
According to Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post, Kansas City has scored 452 points and allowed 324. Taking this point differential into account, the Chiefs should have a record of 10-5.
Baseball statistician Bill James developed a formula that determines the number of games a particular team should have won based on how many points they scored when compared to how many points they surrendered.
When this Pythagorean winning percentage calculation is applied to the Chiefs’ 2020 season, it reveals that Kansas City escaped the throes of defeat more than they should have. Basically, they were luckier than normal.
The discrepancy between the Chiefs’ actual record and expected record exposed their very narrow victories. In order to avoid a five-loss season, Kansas City needed:
- A missed field goal to beat the Panthers in Week 9,
- A game-winning drive to defeat the Raiders in Week 11,
- A vital defensive stand to stop the Broncos during Week 13, and
- A missed field goal in Week 16 against the Falcons.
In addition, the Chiefs played the sixth-easiest schedule of 2020, according to Football Outsiders.
Lack of a Running Game
While the Chiefs have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, their running attack leaves much to be desired.
Darrel Williams is only good for giving the team’s “better” rushers a rest and Le’Veon Bell, whom the Chiefs acquired halfway through the season, is merely a shadow of his former self.
While starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has eclipsed the 100-yard mark twice this season, he has struggled to rush for more than 50 yards in over half his other games. He also only has four touchdowns.
Yes, the Chiefs have wonderboy Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, and while he can sling the ball all over the field, he doesn’t use his mobility as much as the team needs him to.
Mahomes is a very solid pocket quarterback, but he is so much more. The coaching staff needs to be reminded of that and utilize his legs. Here’s the problem — they won’t. And it will cost them a trip to the Super Bowl.
An Average Defense That’s Struggling
While the offense is not a major concern outside the running game, the Chiefs’ defense is lagging. Their defensive line only stops opposing rushers behind the line of scrimmage 12% of the time. This ranks second-worst behind the New England Patriots.
Not only are they allowing a 68% conversion rate on third down, they’ve allowed opponents to score a touchdown 78% of the time while in the red zone.
In regard to putting pressure on the opponent’s quarterback, the Chiefs aren’t generated a ton of sacks. Of the 131 sacks, hurries, and hits this season, only 29 of those are sacks (22%). According to Football Outsiders, Kansas City has the 23rd best pass-rushing unit in the NFL this season.
Patrick Mahomes can only bail out a team so many times. Their luck will run out early this year, well before the Super Bowl. Not only will they not return to the “big game,” I won’t be surprised if they are knocked out before the AFC Championship.