When the Chiefs blew a 28 point lead on Saturday, they started mock draft season at Arrowhead Pride. Fortunately for you all, I have no penchant for either mock drafts or in-depth draft analysis. I'm a nerd, and I like to look at things from a statistical perspective.
So I just had to take long look at the Chiefs schedule for next year and try to project this year's numbers out to next year -- and the result might surprise you.
To start with, over roughly the first half of the season (nine games) the Chiefs offense scored 24 points per game (PPG) against defenses that gave up, on average, 25.7 PPG this year. This means the average defense they played over this span ranked 22nd in points allowed. So basically, the Chiefs scored a respectable number of points against a slate of defenses that was significantly less respectable.
What's more, they scored 1.7 PPG less than their opponent gave up on average -- they stunk, basically. But never fear, the Chiefs first half defense is here to save the day! Or, maybe not, but we'll get to that later.
Over the same period of time, the Chiefs defense gave up 12 PPG against offenses averaging 21 PPG, which gave their opponents an average points scored ranking of 21st. It's not just acceptable, or even simply commendable -- it's downright dominating when your defense gives up 9 PPG less than their opponents average overall. Never mind the fact that they weren't playing elite offenses, because they were at least making bad offenses look even worse.
Then came the bye week, and with it, the second half of this heartbreaking season. If only the Chiefs had a better offense with a vertical threat, they would have done so much better against the elite teams, right?
Actually, as it turns out, not so much. Over the second half of the season (the last eight games) the Chiefs offense scored 32 PPG, and did so against defenses that had an average points allowed ranking of 18th -- teams that only gave up 24.2 PPG this year.
To make sure that sinks in, I'll clarify. The Chiefs faced defenses that gave up 1.5 PPG less than their opponents from the first half of the season, and they scored 8 PPG more against those teams. So the Chiefs scored better than a touchdown more each game than their opponents gave up on average. That's really good.
Over that same period of time, the Chiefs defense gave up 30 PPG against teams that were only scoring 26.9 PPG. Alright, maybe I shouldn't say it's "only" 26.9 PPG, but what I'm getting at is that the Chiefs may have faced some good offenses, but they made them look even better than they were -- about 3 PPG better, to be exact. This sample size isn't small, either. So it seems to me that what we saw from the Chiefs defense over those eight games is probably what we can expect moving forward.
When I looked at the schedule for next year, I saw that the Chiefs will play teams with an average points scored ranking of 15th and an average points allowed ranking of 15th. Over the second half of this season, they faced teams with rankings in those categories of 13th and 18th, respectively. Basically, their schedule next year is very similar to their second half this year.
So, being the nerd that I am, I projected the numbers from this year's second half to next year's schedule and the results will shock some of you and at least mildly surprise everyone else. Knowing that in the second half of the season the Chiefs defense surrendered roughly 3 PPG more than their opponents averaged -- and that the teams they play next year collectively averaged 24.8 PPG this season -- the numbers say the Chiefs defense, if left unchanged, should be reasonably expected to give up 27.8 PPG (3 more than the 24.8 average) on average next season.
If we assume that the rest of the NFL gives up roughly the same number of points they did last year, this would give the Chiefs a points allowed ranking of 28th. On it's own, this is surprising enough, but given that the Chiefs only won two of their final eight games, one might assume that the defense wasn't the only problem. But one would be wrong. Projecting the Chiefs second half numbers out to next year in the same manner tells us that because the Chiefs opponents next year had a collective average of 22.6 PPG surrendered this year, one could reasonably expect the Chiefs to average 30.6 PPG if they continue to outperform points allowed averages at the same clip. If they scored 30.6 PPG, they would rank second in the league, assuming teams score roughly the same number of points next year.
Again, the numbers tell us that if nothing changes from the second half of this season, next year the Chiefs will have the second best offense in the NFL and fifth worst defense.
We all know the numbers won't hold up exactly, but I expect both trends to continue, and I feel very confident in saying the Chiefs right now have an offense that is solidly in next year's top 10 and a defense solidly in the bottom 10. There's just no reason to think otherwise, statistically speaking.
The Chiefs started 2013 with a defense that surrendered fewer points than anyone -- and ended with a defense that just surrendered. They started with an offense that couldn't sustain drives -- and ended with an offense that couldn't stop scoring. Again, I'm not about to do a mock draft. If you do, ask yourself this: "Do the Chiefs need to focus on improving their potential second ranked offense, more than they need to focus on improving their potential 28th ranked defense?"
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