Kansas City: Where defense takes priority
November, 1, 2013
By Paul Carr, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
David Eulitt/Getty ImagesKansas City has gotten off to an 8-0 start thanks in large part to a strong defense.
On the heels of a 2-14 record last year, the Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start 8-0 the season after having the league’s worst record.
With a win Sunday in Buffalo, Kansas City would match the best start in franchise history, accomplished in 2003.
In contrast to the high-flying offense of that 2003 squad, this year’s Kansas City team is built on defense.
The Chiefs are allowing 12.3 points per game, fewest in the NFL, and they’re the first team in 36 years that did not allow more than 17 points in any of its first eight games.
Since 1950, only the 1977 Atlanta Falcons have a longer such streak to start a season.
Kansas City’s dominance begins with a pass rush that leads the NFL with 36 sacks, nine more than any other team. The Chiefs sack rate is also tops in the league at 12.6 percent.
Kansas City also leads the league by allowing third downs to be converted at only a 25 percent clip.
Kansas City’s sack success is not simply a product of a superior pass rush. The Chiefs are allowing the third-most time in the pocket this season at 2.83 seconds.
But the secondary has covered well enough to allow only 5.76 net yards per attempt, third-best in the NFL.
Those numbers are a big reason why the defense has allowed an NFL-low 25.2 Total QBR to opposing quarterbacks.
Something In The Kansas City Fountains?
The Chiefs defensive dominance continues a year-long trend in Kansas City sports.
For the first time in a decade, the Kansas City Royals were in the playoff hunt until the final week this season.
They finished 86-76, their best record since 1989, largely because they allowed only 3.7 runs per game, the fewest in the American League and the team's fewest in a full season since 1972.
The Royals won a team-record three Gold Gloves and led the majors in a sabermetric stat, Defensive Runs Saved (which you can learn more about by clicking here), rating among the best in baseball a year after finishing 13th in that stat.
And in MLS, Sporting Kansas City finished the regular season last weekend with the league's second-best record on the strength of a shutdown defense.
Sporting KC allowed an MLS-low 0.88 goals per game in 2013 (30 goals in 34 games), posting the league's stingiest defense for the second straight year.
One caveat to the Chiefs undefeated start is that they’ve played the league’s easiest schedule through eight weeks, with a combined opponents’ win percentage of .328 (20-41).
Over the remainder of the season, only two teams will play a tougher schedule than the Chiefs, whose remaining opponents have a win percentage of .593 (35-24).