Patrick Mahomes has never lost a game by two possessions in his NFL career. Let me say that again: for the last two seasons, all nine of the Chiefs’ losses have been by seven points or less, including the playoffs.
Chiefs fans have been understandably disheartened by the team’s rough stretch the last few weeks, but maybe the team isn’t as far away from greatness as it appears.
Why have the Chiefs only lost by seven points or less?
What does it mean that the Chiefs have only lost in such close games? Are the issues that cause the Chiefs to lose close games fixable? The answers to these questions may be the key to the Chiefs obtaining perfection.
But first, we must find out what, if anything, these losses all have in common — is there a trend?
Of the Chiefs’ nine losses the last two seasons, three of them were by seven points, three more were by three points, two of them were by six points and one was by a single point. Eight of those losses were to teams with a record above .500, with the only exception being the latest loss to the Tennessee Titans, who are currently 5-5.
Another thing most of the losses have in common is that the Chiefs were beaten in three categories in almost every instance: time of possession, total rushing yards and penalty yards. The only outliers are last year’s playoff loss, where the Chiefs had 33 less penalty yards than the New England Patriots and the Week 11 game in 2018, where they had 22 more rushing yards than the Los Angeles Rams.
The Chiefs have been 8-9 in games that are decided by one score and 11-0 in games decided by nine points or more. This also means that the Chiefs have been a part of more games that go down to the wire the last two years than games that are blowouts the whole way.
Only one of the nine losses went into overtime despite all of the scores being so close, and the only other overtime game the Chiefs have played in was the Week 14 win against the Baltimore Ravens. Five of the losses were at home with the other four occurring on the road.
In all but two of the Chiefs losses, the Chiefs allowed their opponent to score more than 30 points, the only exceptions coming in Week 15 against the Chargers last year, when they gave up 29 points, and Week 5 against the Colts this season, when they gave up 19 points.
Over the nine losses the past to season, the Chiefs have given up 14 turnovers while forcing 12 on defense, surrendered 317 points while scoring 274 and have allowed 3,898 total yards while earning 3,495 total yards.
The bottom line
Many of the things these games have in common are rather broad in a statistical sense and may not be the most accurate indicators of what is causing the Chiefs to lose these games. But if the numbers are to be believed, then the Chiefs have to start winning time of possession, have more success running the ball, stay disciplined in order to limit penalties and keep their foot on the gas early in games in order to avoid a close final score.