Blaise Fields- 23 Sports

As the Chiefs head into the final half of the NFL season, a singular question has left analysts, commentators, and fans stumped: what is wrong with the Kansas City Chiefs?

For a team that, according to BetMGM, was the favorite to win the Super Bowl, the fact that they currently are outside of playoff positioning is shocking. After nine games, they sit 5-4 and are a half game back of the AFC West lead, a far cry from the 17-0 predictions thrown out by pundits like Keyshawn Johnson.

With a team loaded with talented names like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Tyrann Mathieu, and Chris Jones, many are scratching their heads at such an average record. But in spite of the disappointment many Chiefs fans have felt, this KC team is not out of it quite yet. 

With eight games left to right the ship, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the future for the 2021-2022 Chiefs team.

The Good 

In spite of the “doom and gloom” permeating the national and local media about the Chiefs, they are above the .500 mark and are in prime position to take one of the AFC’s seven playoff spots. Just like in years past, the current Chiefs offense is one of the best in the NFL. They are the third best offense in terms of yards gained and have collected the most first downs in the league.

Mahomes, while looking more human than in years past, is still in the top five in passing yards and touchdowns and is sixth in Expected Points Added.

In the trenches, the new offensive line is ranked second by Pro Football Focus, and is allowing a sack a mere 4.7% of the time. Four losses may be hard to stomach for most, until you realize that all four losses have come against the top four seeds in the AFC. This includes a one point loss to Baltimore, spurned by a fluke fumble from Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the final moments, and a nail-biting loss to Los Angeles. 

Quite simply, one or two key moments flip and the Chiefs may very well be 7-2.  Either way, there is a lot to be happy about from this Chiefs team heading into week 10. 

The Bad 

So with all this talent and production on offense, how are the Chiefs this painfully mediocre? While many want to place the blame on Mahomes’ wild playstyle, a regression in offensive talent, or even Mahomes’ fiance and influencer brother, the answer is a lot more complicated. 

While Mahomes does have an eye-popping 10 interceptions, his turnover worthy plays, a Pro Football Focus stat that tracks whether a pass has a high likelihood of being intercepted, is the second lowest of his career. A stat that makes more sense when you consider that four of his 10 interceptions have been balls that have bounced directly off the hands of his wide receivers.

Still regardless of whose fault it is, the Chiefs are turning the ball over on an NFL worst 20% of their drives. However, the real fault for the Chiefs lies on the other side of the ball. 

The Chiefs defense has been downright atrocious this year. They are allowing an NFL worst 6.3 yards per play, just .3 yards away from the record set by the 2015 Saints. Opposing Quarterbacks have felt no pressure against a Chiefs D-Line that has only netted 12 sacks, giving them plenty of time to attack a bottom five Chiefs Pass Defense. Couple that with a bottom five rush defense and you have a recipe for defensive disaster in Kansas City. In order for the Chiefs to stay afloat they need to limit turnovers, get inside pressure on quarterbacks, and play better overall defense. 

The Future

It’s been a rollercoaster nine weeks for the Chiefs, but things are about to get a whole lot harder. They have the toughest remaining schedule and do not play a single team under .500 for the remainder of the regular season. Among these teams are the NFC East leading Cowboys, 5-3 Steelers, and the explosive Bengals. Not only that but they face the Chargers twice, Broncos twice, and the Raiders in key divisional matchups. 

These next nine weeks are pivotal for the Chiefs and with no easy games in sight, it will be uphill sledding for a Kansas City team trying to find its identity. In order to make the playoffs and have a shot at the division, they will need to beat the toughest teams in the AFC and make up crucial ground on a division that could pass them by. A topsy-turvy first half has left many wondering if the Chiefs can forge their way into a tough AFC playoff picture. However, Patrick Mahomes has pulled off a number of incredible comebacks, and this might be his greatest one yet.