Are the Chiefs as good as their record suggests?

Are the Chiefs built to succeed in the AFC playoffs? Neil Hornsby, Nathan Jahnke, and Mike Renner break down one of the conference's hottest teams.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Are the Chiefs as good as their record suggests?

After nine straight wins, the Kansas City Chiefs are PFF founder Neil Hornsby’s sleeper pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Analysts Nathan Jahnke and Mike Renner would contest otherwise, however.

For PFF’s full AFC postseason prediction, be sure to check out our analysts’ Super Bowl picks.

Thanks to the support from the Ohio Film Office.

  • 24AHAD


  • anon76returns

    Great website Neil, love what you’ve done (other than shutting out us peons from being able to pay for the real stats). But you are definitely crazy in thinking the Chiefs are anything other than a long shot to make the Super Bowl out of the AFC. Assuming NE, Den, & NYJ win this weekend, here is the AFC seeding and their record against playoff teams:

    Patriots: 3-2 (wins: NYJ, Hou, Wash; losses: Den, NYJ)
    Denver: 5-1 (wins: KC, Min, GB, NE, Cin; loss: KC)
    Cincinnati: 2-3 (wins: KC, Sea, losses: Hou, AZ, Den)
    Houston: 2-3 (wins: Cin, NYJ; losses: KC, Car, NE)
    Kansas City: 2-4 (wins: Hou, Den; losses: Den, GB, Cin, Min)
    New York Jets: 2-2 (wins: Wash, NE; losses: NE, Hou)

    I don’t see anything there suggesting KC is going to be particularly dangerous, especially when considering one of the wins was when an injured Peyton Manning gifted them 5 INTs.

    • adamtg

      1. that game KC vs den was Peyton Manning fault okay so i would shut up 2. KC is the hottest teams going right now so shut up 3. KC has what is it again hmm…. lets see here 9 straight wins so yeah once again shut up 4. KC is the best NFL team in history okay

    • Billy Macias

      Just like that Week two game where the Chiefs commited 5 TO as well against DEN and barely lost. DEN I will give credit has a stingy defense, but with that mediocre offense they’ve been limping to wins. May want to readjust you records since the Steelers are in.

      Which would make:

      DEN 4-2
      KC 3-3

      Regardless playoff teams, its any given day. And the best teams in AFC playoffs are the Wildcards

      • anon76returns

        Denver still has 5 wins, but now has 2 losses (still the most wins against playoff teams of any team in the NFL).
        The Chiefs still have 4 losses, but now 3 wins (still losing record vs. playoff teams).

        The “mediocre” Denver offense has limped to the 16th best production in the league in terms of yards, and are pretty equally ranked running and throwing the ball. The Chiefs are 27th in the league, and almost entirely dependent on their run game- if that gets shut down, they’re in trouble.

        Best team in the AFC are Wildcards? By what metric is that? The AFC’s #1 seed has represented the conference in the SB in 3 of the last 4 years, with the 4th year coming from Baltimore as a Division Winner, not a Wild Card. The best teams in the AFC have generally been the ones with the best records, and those teams don’t get wild card slots.

        • ArkhamNightWing

          Per Football Outsiders DVOA a more holistic way of looking at stats: the Chiefs rank 5th Offensively, and 2nd defensively. What good do yards do you if you’re not scoring. KC ranks higher than DEN in Points Per Game and edge out in Points Allowed as well.

          Yes I believe the best teams are Wildcards. Records aren’t indicators, while Denver has earned that seed they easily could’ve lost v.SD and been the 5th seed. They didn’t to their credit but it wouldnt have changed my stance. Going into the playoffs its a different ball game all that goes out the window.

          1. DEN- Scary Defense, but the Offense will keep other teams in the game as they have all season. Though they will have the advantage of playing at Mile High

          2.NE- They’re banged up and Brady looks like it as well. They’re not up to full strength.

          3-4 CIN/HOU Both have strong defenses but are relying on back up QBs

          5-6 KC/PIT KC while not splashy on offense consistent and will be kept in the game with the Defense. Same with the Steelers except the Offense is explosive and the defense can do enough for them to win.

          • anon76returns

            We shall see. The Chiefs have had sterling looking statistics for the most part against teams that didn’t make the playoffs, but they haven’t looked nearly as good against playoff teams. And I see you are referencing the weighted stats, which avoids nearly all of the games against playoff-caliber opponents.

            As a Bronco fan I’ve seen REALLY pretty looking stats against sub-par teams in the regular season, such as the #2 scoring offense in the league (2014, top 4 in both offensive and defensive DVOA, #2 overall), an ELEVEN game winning streak (2012, top 5 in both offensive and defensive DVOA, #2 overall), and the most prolific offense in NFL history (2013, #1 offensive DOVA, and a top 10 weighted defensive DVOA, #2 overall). Any one of those three Broncos’ teams looked a lot better according to DVOA than the current KC team does, but they went a combined 8-9 vs playoff teams in the regular season (still better than this year’s Chiefs). I feel a lot better about the playoff chances of the current Denver team, that has shown repeatedly it can make the big plays when needed & can win against the best competition in a knife fight. The Chiefs have not shown me they are capable of doing that, and in fact have looked progressively weaker in five of the last 6 games. Other than victories over the Broncos and Steelers when both teams finished without their marquee QBs, the Chiefs’ signature win this season was an opening day “triumph” over the Texans, who were an onsides recovery away from tying up a game that should never have been close.
            DVOA is a great stat, but hasn’t been all that predictive of results in the playoffs, as Broncos fans can tell you.

          • Mike

            Denver just needs to avoid KC in the playoffs. It is a bad matchup. KC’s superiority along both lines has allowed them to outplay the Broncos in 6 of the 8 quarters.

  • crosseyedlemon

    As Bill Parcells would say “you are what your record says you are”. If you win the turnover battle in the playoffs your going to prevail about 75% of the time and no team has done a better job of protecting the ball than the Chiefs. That makes them a legitimate threat.

  • MosesZD

    Yes. The problem is you guys are still stuck in the ‘big play highlight reel passing game’ mentality of winning. Try some advanced sabermetrics sometime. You’ll find the old ‘conservative offense, win field position, don’t turn the ball over’ works just as well.

    • Autocephallus

      They’ve feasted on some bad teams and Smith, as efficient as he’s been, doesn’t have the ability to win games on his arm while down 14-21+ points. You don’t need sabremetrics to see that.

      • Billy Macias

        Really who are the Chiefs going to face thats going to put up 14-21 LEAD point against the Chiefs defense. Again PFF outside of Neil cant see that the offense isnt high octane but can and have come back from behind.

        • Autocephallus

          New England, Cincinnati, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Seattle, take your pick.

  • Samuel Mazzini

    Bologna,the Chiefs can and will make a deep run in the playoffs