At 5-0, the Chiefs are the only unbeaten AFC team, and it’s the second straight season we can say that.
However, fans certainly remember that things didn’t end well last season as the Chiefs lost six of seven games at one point, then blew a huge halftime lead and were beaten at home by the Titans in the playoffs.
Yes, the Chiefs have been known to start fast in the regular season, only to hit a rough patch and fall back to earth. Prime examples are last season and the 2013 season (9-0 start). In both instances, the Chiefs crashed out in the playoffs.
But is there reason to believe this year be different? Some fans aren’t so sure and are concerned the other shoe will drop eventually, but writers from ESPN and Sports Illustrated think the Chiefs are built to last.
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Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko wrote a story with the headline, “Why the Chiefs will be a formidable threat for the duration of the season.”
“In Sunday’s 30-14 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday, the Chiefs answered some big questions about the kind of team they’ll be when they play the best clubs in the NFL, when Patrick Mahomes isn’t throwing lights-out and the team needs outstanding performances on the other side of the ball to win,” Klemko wrote. “Don’t get me wrong: This was no masterpiece in the other phases. Kansas City gave up 502 offensive yards to a Blake Bortles-led team playing without its most dynamic player, injured running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring).
“But there was one key development that should tell you the Chiefs are built to last deep into the winter months. At long last, the Chiefs have a real, consistent pass rush. In 2016 and ’17, the Chiefs finished 30th and 26th in sack percentage—that is, the percentage of opposing dropbacks that end in sacks. That lack of pressure showed on third down; in 2016, teams converted 43.2 percent of their first downs against Kansas City, and 40.1 percent a year later, good for 27th and 23rd best in the NFL. In 2018, however, the Chiefs rank 20th in sack percentage, and—get this—second in the NFL on third down at 29.3 percent.
“What’s changed for the Kansas City pass rush? It’s pretty simple: Dee Ford happened.”
You can read more about what Klemko had to say about Ford and the Chiefs here.
Adam Teicher, who covers the Chiefs for ESPN, wrote a story with the headline, “Why the Chiefs won’t fade after another fast start.”
Teicher wrote: “Oddly for a team with little recent playoff success — the Chiefs have lost 11 of their past 12 postseason games — 2018 doesn’t feel like early season fortune on the path to eventual slaughter.
“It feels different, sturdier. The Chiefs seem built to last.”
Teicher then gave four reasons why this year might be different: “The offense is less prone to deep slumps,” “their defense isn’t great, but it’s better than it looks statistically,” “they’re close to lapping the field in the AFC” and “the Mahomes factor.”
There is a deeper look at each of those points, but I’ll focus on what he wrote about Mahomes.
“The Chiefs believe they’ll never be out of a game as long as their young quarterback remains in the lineup,” Teicher wrote. “He delivered in the fourth quarter in his two career games in which his team absolutely had to have it. He led the Chiefs to a walk-off field goal against the Broncos in his only start last season. The Chiefs then scored two touchdowns in the last half of the fourth quarter last week in Denver to overcome a 10-point deficit. Late-game rallies were never Alex Smith’s thing. The Chiefs usually lost when behind in the fourth quarter with Smith at quarterback.”
You can read more here.