The Kansas City Chiefs remain Super Bowl contenders
Sitting at 8-4, the Kansas City Chiefs have much work to do in order to fulfill the team’s lofty preseason goal of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this February.
After four weeks of the 2019 NFL Season, the Kansas City Chiefs appeared destined for a return trip to the AFC Championship Game. The team was 4-0, and cruising.
Fast forward nine weeks in to the season, and there are plenty of question marks surrounding the Chiefs heading in to the stretch run of the 2019 regular season.
Sure, the team is still in first place in the AFC West, and it would be difficult to envision a scenario where they actually missed the playoffs, but, are they really still a Super Bowl contender?
The answer is definitively yes, and there are three primary reasons:
First, Kansas City has experienced a rash of injuries through the first 12 games, but are getting healthier as the stretch run comes. Consider the Chiefs’ starters who have missed more than one game this season: Patrick Mahomes, running back Damien Williams, wide receivers Tyreek Hill & Sammy Watkins, left tackle Eric Fisher, left guard Andrew Wylie, right guard Laurent Duvarney-Tardif, defensive ends Frank Clark & Alex Okafor, defensive tackle Chris Jones and cornerback Kendall Fuller.
In addition offensive line stop-gap, Martinas Rankin is out for the season with a torn patellar tendon; on the defensive line, primary fill-in Emmanual Ogbah is undergoing season ending surgery for a torn pectoral muscle. That means that 11 (50%) of the Chiefs day one starters have missed more than one game of action this season.
Despite these injuries, Kansas City is one of just three teams this season who have faced a top five strength of schedule (based on DVOA) and still have a winning record. The other two teams consist of: the Oakland Raiders, who the Chiefs crushed in Week Two, and the Green Bay Packers, who the Chiefs almost beat without Patrick Mahomes.
TL;DR version: Kansas City has been very good, against a extremely difficult schedule, despite being the most injured team in the NFL. They can only get healthier from here, if only because it is impossible to imagine them getting less healthy.
Second, the Chiefs have the best set of offensive weapons in the NFL. Imagine thinking that your rookie wide receiver who has five receiving touchdowns through his first 10 games (Mecole Hardman) was your seventh best offensive weapon; that’s Kansas City right now when you consider: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Travis Kelce, LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams. This arsenal is actually even scarier, consider: four of these players have 40 yard dash times under 4.5 seconds (Hill, Watkins, Hardman, Williams).
When you look at that set of threats, and consider that their MVP quarterback can deliver a strike from anywhere on the field, you start to understand how, even at their worst as they were against the Tennessee Titans, the team still puts up 32 points. One should also keep in mind that missing left tackle Eric Fishe, and replacing him with human-sieve Cameron Erving, has dealt a significant blow to this offense’s efficiency in terms of their overall numbers.
Teams will continue to try to run the ball against the Chiefs to keep the ball out of the offense’s hands. But, as the Chiefs continue to refine their run defense that suffocated Dalvin Cook in Week Nine (but obviously is far from an finished product after its’ performance against the Titans), it will become more and more difficult to keep Mahomes and the fast people off the field too much.
It would be difficult to bet against this team scoring less than 30 points in any game down the stretch. If the Chiefs can put up 30+ every weekend, they’re going to continue to win a lot more games than they lose, and will certainly challenge offenses who like to run a lot (like the Patriots) to keep pace.
Finally, consider the talent that is Patrick Mahomes. A Mahomes led Chiefs team has never lost by more than a touchdown. Think about how truly mind boggling that stat is. Literally, the Chiefs have been in every game that Mahomes has ever started in the NFL. As long as Mahomes is under center, Andy Reid is calling plays, and the fastest player in football is on the field (Hill) – Kansas City will always have a chance to win.
Listening to Chiefs fans right now, you’d think the team was 4-8 and looking at a top five draft pick. The sky is not falling and the team can still accomplish all that it set out to in August. There is no reason to give up the faith in KC.