The NFL is entering it’s ‘business end’ of the season. 13 of the 32 teams have officially been eliminated from playoff contention leaving only the cream of the crop and a smattering of pretenders hoping to grasp the final spots in the post season.
For the Kansas City Chiefs, their fate has been known for a couple of weeks. They will be playing January football, their main focus is on securing home field advantage.
Yet regardless of their seeding, there are issues facing the Chiefs that run much deeper than if they are at home or on the road in the playoffs.
Andy Reid’s squad rank 31st in total defense, only the 6-8 Cincinnati Bengals rank lower. The return of star safety Eric Berry will help a secondary that has been repeatedly beat for big plays and has hemorrhaged yards and points.
But overall it is difficult to see Kansas City even making it to the Super Bowl, let alone winning it, with their current defensive deficiencies.
While the team has been praised for playing their part in some of the games of the season and their high-powered offense, it cannot be ignored that they have surrendered over 30 points in four contests and conceded over 40 on two occasions. One being a 54-51 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in November.
In fact the Chiefs have only held three teams to under 20 points all year: the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals. All of the teams rank in the bottom ten for total offense.
It is easy to look at the last two Super Bowls and believe that an offensive powerhouse can overcome poor defense.
Super Bowl LII featured 1,151 total yards and 74 points, and Super Bowl LI had 890 total yards and 62 points. However, the teams competing in those respective games had to play championship level defense during their playoff run to get that far.
The Philadelphia Eagles held Matt Ryan’s Atlanta Falcons to just ten points in the Divisional round.
Then they stomped the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, giving up just a single touchdown to Case Keenum’s 11th ranked offense before shutting them out for three straight quarters.
Meanwhile the New England Patriots showed their metal in the AFC Championship game against the Jags, who ranked sixth in offense in 2017.
The Patriots restricted Leonard Fournette to 76 yards on 24 carries in that clash and kept the Jaguars to just three points in the fourth quarter after giving up 14 points before the half.
While Kansas boast one of the most potent offenses in the NFL their flaws will be magnified in January and more will be asked of Patrick Mahomes and the offensive unit.
The Chiefs will pose an obvious threat in the postseason, but without a competent defense they are not Super Bowl contenders. Not this year.