The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Oakland Raiders 24-7 in a sloppily played game Sunday. The Chiefs find themselves with six wins and no losses to start the season for only the second time in franchise history. The last time Kansas City was 6 - 0 was in 2003, though that Chiefs team was doing it with offense and players like Trent Green and Priest Holmes.
This Chiefs team has an identity all its own, and it's a staunchly defensive identity. The Chiefs are led by outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston who have combined for 17 sacks, which is more than the team total sack numbers for all other NFL teams except The Baltimore Ravens, the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns.
The Oakland Raiders weren't expected to be a formidable opponent for the Chiefs, but they kept the game contested well into the fourth quarter. Without further ado, here are the takeaways from the game.
The "They Haven't Played Anyone" Narrative is a False One
It may seem redundant to say it week in and week out, but the Chiefs' defense is elite. Not "this year in the NFL elite;" rather, they're among the better defenses fielded in the past two decades.
The Chiefs are averaging allowing under 11 points a game through six games this season. That isn't a one game fluke. I don't care who you are and who you're playing, that's a tough feat.
To put it in perspective, the following table illustrates Chiefs' opponents scoring averages against other defenses in the league.
|Team||Average Scoring Output||Scored against the Chiefs|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||12.25 points per game||2 points scored|
|Dallas Cowboys||34 points per game||16 points scored|
|Philadelphia Eagles||30 points per game||16 points scored|
|New York Giants||19.2 points per game||7 points scored|
|Tennessee Titans||24.5 points per game||17 points scored|
|Oakland Raiders||19.6 points per game||7 points scored|
The closest a team has come to hitting their average scoring output as a team for the season against Kansas City was Tennessee who was a full touchdown and change below their scoring average against the Chiefs.
Anyone can trot out the tired (and false) narrative the Chiefs haven't played anyone based on their opponents' records, but when you dig just a little deeper you see a team that is significantly diminishing the offensive capability of every team they're playing.
Both the Eagles and Giants are good offensive football teams that average over 30 points per game, and the Chiefs held them to 16 points apiece. Further analysis will show you that Dallas, while having two wins and three losses on the season, has lost two of those games by a combined four points, and their other loss was a one-possession loss.
Dallas is going to wind up being a good team for the season when all is said and done. Their early struggles are being held against the Chiefs in some circles, however.
The Chiefs Defense and Special Teams Units are Carrying the Team
While the Chiefs are scoring a respectable 25.3 points per game, there's a bit of a misnomer with the overall efficacy of the Kansas City offense. Of the 152 total points scored by the Chiefs to date, 68 of those points have been scored by the defense or special teams. That's 45 percent of the Chiefs total overall points scored.
To put that into more palatable terms, the Chiefs offense is scoring little more than half of their total points.
Special teams has been especially consistent in delivering Kansas City great field position. The Chiefs have the best average starting field position in the league to start drives. Kansas City also averages pinning their opponents to the second worst starting field position in the league.
Kansas City's Offense is Just Not Very Good
For as good as the Chiefs' defense has been, the offense just hasn't gotten things going through six games this season. Kansas City's offense averages a league 25th best 26.26 yards per drive. The Chiefs have only converted 29 of 89 third down attempts on the season, including 4 of 14 against the Raiders.
The Chiefs wide receivers have struggled to gain separation consistently. Quarterback Alex Smith has struggled to drive the ball vertically and over the last three games has developed a nasty habit of locking his plant leg which is causing him to throw the ball high. This was on display all game against the Raiders.
Smith, labeled as an efficient, game-managing quarterback, has seen his completion percentage drop 14 percentage points from last season. He has struggled to develop any type of consistent relationship in the passing game with anyone but Jamaal Charles and tight end Sean McGrath.
The offensive tackles have been about as effective in containing opposing pass rushers as a junior high school pep banner at containing the team's grand entrance. Rookie first overall pick Eric Fisher has been slow to adjust to the speed of NFL pass rushers, and on the left side, Brandon Albert has been hurt and struggled as well.
The only consistent reliable weapons on the Chiefs offense have been Jamaal Charles and at times Sean McGrath, the third string tight end. The Chiefs are going to have to get Dwayne Bowe to start earning the new contract he signed, and Donnie Avery to be more consistent on the field, though it's tough to get into a rhythm when your quarterback is hanging you out to dry with high and unnecessarily overthrown passes.
The Chiefs have a relatively comfortable rest of their three-game homestand the next two weeks with hurting Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns teams coming to town. The offense must find itself over the course of the next three games, because those two games against the Denver Broncos are beginning to loom very large on the horizon.