The Detroit Lions are looking to fend off the debate as to whether their 2-0-1 record is fool’s gold or a sign they are true competitors this year. Well, there is no better test than the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off a near Super Bowl appearance on the shoulders of their MVP quarterback.
You can make a very easy argument that this will be the toughest test for the Lions all season. So let’s get to know the Chiefs a little better.
Kansas City Chiefs
12-4 record (1st in AFC West) — 1-1 in playoffs
1st in points scored, 24th in points allowed
Overall DVOA: 1st (1st on offense, 26th on defense)
Key free agent additions: DE Frank Clark, S Tyrann Mathieu, CB Bashaud Breeland, DE Alex Okafor, LB Darron Lee, DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Key losses: DE Justin Houston, DE Dee Ford, S Eric Berry, RB Kareem Hunt, CB Orlando Scandrick
2019 NFL draft picks:
Round 2 - WR Mecole Hardman
Round 2 - S Juan Thornhill
Round 3 - DT Khalen Saunders
Round 6 - CB Rashad Fenton
Round 6 - RB Darwin Thompson
Round 7 - G Nick Allegretti
The Chiefs were an errant offsides away from being the AFC representative in the Super Bowl last year, and they could be well on their way back this season.
Unlike some of the previous teams we’ve covered this year, the Chiefs didn’t rest on their laurels this offseason. Knowing that their defensive performance wasn’t all that good last season, they went out and made some serious changes on that side of the ball.
Frank Clark, Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor were all brought in to help the Chiefs’ defensive front, even though the team led the league in sacks last year.
But it wasn’t just the personnel changes. They also fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and replaced him with respected veteran coach Steve Spagnuolo, who has a shared history with Andy Reid when they were both employed by the Eagles.
2019 Season (3-0)
- 3rd in points scored; 14th in points allowed
- 4th in DVOA (2nd on offense, 21st on defense)*
*Note: DVOA statistics aren’t adjusted to strength of opponent until Week 5
Through three weeks, it’s been more of the same from the Chiefs team. The defense is still struggling a bit, but their offense hasn’t skipped a beat. In fact, it may be even better than last year.
Patrick Mahomes’ passer rating is 22 points higher than last year (113.8 to 134.9), the Chiefs are averaging a whopping 9.5 yards on every first down, and they only have one turnover on the season.
Key injuries: OT Eric Fisher (groin), WR Tyreek Hill (shoulder), RB LeSean McCoy (ankle), RB Damien Williams
The Chiefs are not without a couple of key injuries. Left tackle Eric Fisher, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and backup running back Damien Williams all missed last week’s game against the Ravens and none of them will practice Wednesday this week.
LeSean McCoy has been dealing with an ankle injury since Week 2 and had to leave Sunday’s game early, but he still appears to be on track to play this week.
Biggest strength: Quarterback
Patrick Mahomes is absolutely unreal. He’s currently on a 14-game streak* of throwing at least two touchdowns, and in 10 of those 14 games he’s thrown three or more.
With Mahomes at quarterback, the Chiefs have literally never scored fewer than 26 points in a game. 20 straight games. 22, if you include the playoffs. The Chiefs average nearly 35 points per game with Mahomes at quarterback, and this year it isn’t any different.
He’s lethal with his arm. He’s lethal with his legs. Inside or outside the pocket, he’s dangerous.
Matt Patricia on whether he'd prefer Mahomes in or out of the pocket: "Neither."— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) September 25, 2019
"Probably on the sidelines is where I'd like to see him the most."
To put simply, no one has figured out how to stop him yet.
*not including playoffs
Biggest weakness: Run defense
Here’s a look at how opposing running backs have performed against the Chiefs:
Week 1: Leonard Fournette: 13 carries, 66 yards (5.1 YPC)
Week 2: Josh Jacobs: 12 carries, 99 yards (8.25 YPC)
Week 3: Mark Ingram III: 16 carries, 103 yards, 3 TDs (6.4 YPC)
Week 3: Gus Edwards: 7 carries, 53 yards (7.6 YPC)
Four different running backs have averaged over 5 yards a carry against the Chiefs in just three weeks. As a result, the Chiefs rank last in yards per carry allowed (6.2), 27th in rushing yards and t-25th in rushing touchdowns allowed (4).
This could finally be the week Kerryon Johnson breaks out.
Vegas line for Sunday: Chiefs by 7