The Kansas City Chiefs are the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. But Andy Reid’s erratic defensive unit has not played well down the stretch.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the reigning AFC champions. A team that finished with the best record in the league in 2020 with a 14-2 mark lost four of its first seven games and finished 12-5. Still, the Kansas City Chiefs are in the playoffs for the seventh straight year – easily the longest current streak in the NFL.
Earlier in the year, Steve Spagnuolo’s club had its issues. Combined with a struggling Patrick Mahomes and a turnover-prone offense that made life easier for other teams, the Chiefs allowed 203 points (29.0 average) and 23 offensive touchdowns during their 3-4 start. But there was an awakening and in the team’s next six contests – all victories – Andy Reid’s club allowed a mere 65 points and seven offensive TDs. There were also 16 takeaways and an equal amount of sacks.
But then came the thrilling 34-28 overtime win over the Chargers at Los Angeles. Justin Herbert and Bolts moved the ball at will against the Chiefs’ defense. After rolling the Steelers a week later, Spagnuolo’s group was riddled by Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. And in last Saturday night’s come-from-behind win at Denver, the Broncos gained 364 total yards – including 191 on the ground.
So in their last four outings, the Chiefs have surrendered 12 offensive touchdowns, 21.8 points per game, and a disappointing 392.5 points per outing. Not exactly gaudy numbers for a team that will have to win three playoff games in order to get to a third straight Super Bowl.
If the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense doesn’t regain that form that was a big part of that aforementioned eight-game winning streak, even a mediocre Pittsburgh Steelers’ attack could have some success moving the football on Sunday night.
With standouts like Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu, Spagnuolo’s unit is certainly capable. But was the 36-10 win over Pittsburgh in Week 16 the exception for the Chiefs’ defense down the stretch?