In the first half, it was moving the ball with ease — only to turn it over. The second half was a different story — the story we’ve seen over the last two years: the Kansas City defense gets stops and the offense puts opponents away with scoring drives; it was just what we have expected to see all year.
The Chiefs’ offense has been heralded as a juggernaut to which other teams wish they could catch up — but this season, also as a mistake-burdened unit that’s preventing the team from winning big games.
On one hand, it is one of the most efficient in NFL history. Through the first six weeks of the season, the Chiefs have scored 3.14 points per drive — the highest since quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the starter. Kansas City is scoring on 50.9% of its drives. It also leads the league in third-down conversions at 60.3% — and has punted a league-low 10 times.
On the other hand, the Chiefs lead the league in turnovers with 14: eight interceptions and six fumbles. But the problem isn’t simply that the offense is giving the ball away. Instead, it’s where they have been giving it away.
In both extra points and field goals, Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker has been perfect this season. He is able to easily make kicks from more than 50 yards out — meaning that any time the Chiefs are at (or inside) the 40-yard line, they should score at least three points. But eight of the possessions that have ended in turnovers have been inside the 40 — meaning that at minimum, Kansas City should have scored an additional 24 points.
In addition, they would have had two more wins. A crucial fumble by Clyde Edwards-Helaire at the Baltimore Ravens’ 32-yard line prevented a winning kick opportunity in Week 2 — and a week later, three costly turnovers in Los Angeles Chargers territory on consecutive possessions were the difference in that six-point loss.
Currently, the Chiefs turn the ball over at a league-worst 22.8% of their possessions — meaning that on every fifth drive, the team commits a mental error and turns over the ball. This is an outlier; in the Mahomes era, Kansas City hasn’t turned the ball over in more than 10% of its drives.
Part of this has been the way defenses have been playing the Chiefs: they seem to be resigned to the fact that Kansas City will score; it’s more about making the offense work for every yard — and hoping the Chiefs will finally make a mistake. The Chiefs have the league’s only offense to average more than seven plays per possession (7.2) — and also have the longest average time of possession at 3:16. The team has had 23 touchdowns drives. 12 of them have had at least 10 plays — including Sunday’s game-sealing, 15-play drive against Washington.
If there is a blueprint to beat this Chiefs team, it is to force them into long drives, hoping they make a mistake. The rate at which Kansas City has committed turnovers is just not sustainable — and it will remain a focus of concern for each game this season.
For the Chiefs to build on Sunday’s win, every offensive player will have to remain patient and focused through each play — because no defense is capable of beating them. Only the Chiefs can do that.