Here are five stats to know about how the team has performed without Mahomes in the lineup and what that could mean now that he’s back:
3.8 rushing yards per game
The Chiefs rushing defense has been much improved since Mahomes’ knee injury. Including the game against the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs have allowed 3.8 rushing yards per game in the last three games, a far cry from the beginning of the season.
They aren’t doing it against weak competition, either — Aaron Jones, Phillip Lindsay and Dalvin Cook are all in the top 20 in the NFL in total rushing yards, with Cook at the very top. They each are averaging more than four yards a carry as well, which speaks even more to the Chiefs’ improved run defense.
Before Mahomes injury, there was a concern that teams would continue to run the ball on the Chiefs, control the time of possession and keep Mahomes off the field. That now seems to have been remedied.
But it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows for the defense in Mahomes’ absence...
12 touchdowns allowed in 4 games
Despite the improved rushing defense, the Chiefs have still given up plenty of points in the last few weeks. The Chiefs have allowed 12 total touchdowns in the last four games and allowed at least 23 points in three of those four games.
Though the defense’s improvement should create more opportunities for Mahomes, opposing teams can still score a lot of points against the Chiefs, making it even more critical that the offense takes advantage of the opportunities they’re given.
15 receptions 290 yards 2 touchdowns
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been on a tear since his return from injury. He has 15 receptions for 290 yards and two touchdowns in the last three games, leading the Chiefs in receiving yards in each of those games. With Mahomes, Hill and Sammy Watkins all seemingly healthy for the first time in a long time, we could finally see what the Chiefs loaded offense is truly capable of.
8.0 sacks, 20 QB hits
While one of the Chiefs’ weaknesses seemed to improve the last couple of weeks, the other seems to only be getting worse. The Chiefs offensive line did well enough to give Matt Moore a chance in each of the games he’s played in, but they let him get hit a lot. In the three games Moore played in, he was sacked eight times and hit 20 times, half of those happening last week against Minnesota.
It probably isn’t a good idea to let your franchise quarterback coming back from a knee injury get hit 10 times in his comeback game. Maybe Eric Fisher’s health is the key to the offensive line getting is groove back, but until then, the Chiefs need to find a way to protect Mahomes.
4-0 on the road
The Chiefs should be proud to have the best road record in the AFC. While their losing record at home may be a concern, their great record on the road serves as a promising glimpse into not only next week, but also the playoffs.
It’s likely the Chiefs will have to play the road game on their potential Super Bowl run, and a good road record shows that the team’s good qualities can travel with them into hostile environments. It also helps that the Titans are only 2-2 at home, which should give the Chiefs even more confidence heading into Sunday.