Will extra time help Patriots figure out KC’s horrendous defense?

Published: 10/13/2018 1:43:49 PM
Modified: 10/13/2018 1:43:36 PM

Brady-ChiefsD.jpgTom Brady and the Patriots offense had three extra days to figure out a Chiefs defense that is giving up a league-worst 461.8 yards per game.


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Thanks to schedule-makers, the New England Patriots had three extra days to prepare for Sunday night’s showdown with the Chiefs. They can only hope that was enough time to figure out Kansas City’s horrendous defense, which has carried the team to a 5-0 start.
 
Since the season began five weeks ago, the NFL has been abuzz over a non-stop, jaw-dropping highlight reel of Kansas City allowing touchdowns at a rapid-fire pace as the melding of offensive genius Andy Reid and an injury-depleted unit deprived of playmakers has let opposing offenses run wild on them. Some have suggested that every quarterback the Chiefs play could be this season’s MVP.
 
It is not every week the Patriots find themselves looking at such a formidable challenge as a defense that ranks near the top of the league is every category of awfulness. As head coach Bill Belichick pointed out earlier this week, every extra minute counts when you’re trying to solve the riddle of such a preposterously terrible unit.
 
“I think it's fortunate that we've had a couple of extra days here to work on Kansas City,” Belichick said. “We need a lot of extra time to prepare for this team. … This will be a big challenge for us this week. We'll have to do a lot of things well and do them consistently, do them for 60 minutes.”
 
Two things the Chiefs defense has done pretty well consistently for 60 minutes every week is allow yards and points. Kansas City has allowed the most yards in the league (461.8 per game), and is ranked 20th in points allowed (25.8 per game). It has been a relentless parade of scoring for KC opponents, including the 49ers, who put up 27 against them without Jimmy Garoppolo.  
 
Certainly, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles — who is known far and wide for his consistency, ball security and decision making — could have used some extra time to figure out the combustible Chiefs defense. Bortles threw four interceptions and lost a fumble against the Chiefs last week. Kansas City also held him to just 430 passing yards on the day.
 
Belichick described the Chiefs as the “best third-down defense” in the league, and indeed they have the second-best third-down conversion rate at 29.3 percent. This is somewhat unfortunate for KC, as they also have faced fewer third-down opportunities (58) than all but six teams in the league.
 
The Patriots can only hope the extra time led them to conclude that they must advance the ball on first, second or fourth downs, which is when everyone else is doing it. The Chiefs have allowed the most first downs (142) in the NFL this season. Eighty percent of the time teams move the chains against KC, they do it on either first or second down. The Patriots have surrendered 110 first downs this year, which is less than the Chiefs have given up just on first and second down (115).
 
But if the Chiefs can get you into a third down, well, that’s right where they want you. Because now they have a 62 percent chance of ending your drive. Unless you try again on fourth down where they have stopped only three of 13 attempts (23 percent).
 
During his prolonged, deep dive into KC film study, Belichick observed that the Chiefs have suffered statistically as a result of playing with a lead in the fourth quarter. That has led to late yards that make them look worse.
 
“They don't give up a lot of points,” Belichick said. “I mean, they've been ahead. They've given up on some yards in garbage time but they're 5-0.”
 
Well, the nerds over at Football Outsiders did an even deeper dive on the Chiefs and concluded that they are indeed the juggernaut of incompetence they appear to be. According to Football Outsiders, they have been the 28th least-efficient defense in the NFL, and are dead last against the run.
 
In other words, the Chiefs defense has lived up to every ounce of the hype.
 
Dave Brown covers the Patriots for the Monitor. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.




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