As part of the release of the annual Football Outsiders Almanac, which is excellent as always, I talked with Scott Kacsmar from Football Outsiders on the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs. I'll be posting a series of questions this week from my chat with him. If you're a football nut, the FO Almanac is for you.
Yesterday's question was on Jamaal Charles' usage. Today's question is on the Chiefs turnover differential. The only team with a better turnover differential than the Chiefs (+18) last year was the team that won the Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks (+20). What are the chances the Chiefs have a terrific turnover differential once again? Kacsmar says the Chiefs offense controls that more than the defense does.
"Right, the 2010 Chiefs had 14 giveaways in a playoff season, but coughed it up 28 times in 2011 (7-9 finish)," Kacsmar wrote. "That might worry fans about the 2014 Chiefs after ranking second in giveaways (18) and takeaways (36) in 2013. The offense is more likely to repeat their performance. Alex Smith has some control over whether or not he throws an interception, but it's a lot harder to control when an opponent's going to float a good pass right into the hands of Eric Berry. Fumble recoveries are fairly random events.
"On the flip side of the 2010-11 Chiefs, the 2002 Chiefs had 15 giveaways and only increased to 18 in 2003. There are some reasons to be optimistic about the 2014 Chiefs in regards to turnovers, because Smith was the quarterback of the 2011 49ers, who tied the NFL record with 10 giveaways in a season. He plays the game conservatively to limit turnovers, and historically Reid's offenses do pretty well with turnovers, except for those last few years in Philadelphia. So I think the offense will be okay, but I don't expect the defense to get quite as many takeaways."
Outside of key injuries, this might be the most important factor for success for the 2014 Chiefs.