The Chiefs, headed by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, are making their first playoff appearance.
The four-time Pro Bowler from Kansas City has been a favorite in the AFC in the past, but this year has presented fresh challenges.
When the Kansas City Chiefs play in the AFC playoffs, he may have to travel for the first time as a quarterback.
He’s only ever played in the postseason outside of Arrowhead Stadium, and that was in the Super Bowl. In Week 17, Cincinnati defeated Kansas City 34-31. Cincinnati defeated Kansas City in the conference championship game.
If both clubs are ranked first in the AFC, you’ll have to win on the opponent’s home ground. It’s a new environment for the four-time Pro Bowler, but not for the team this season.
During the Chiefs’ 0-3 season, it took a bit for Mahomes to adjust to the new defensive approach in the NFL. Mahomes and the Chiefs eventually figured things out, and Andy Reid’s team had another successful regular season. The Chiefs aren’t as far ahead of the rest of the pack as they were when the playoffs began. They’re not even in first place.
The Chiefs remain a talented and well-trained squad. Furthermore, being the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, the league MVP, and the Super Bowl MVP, he has maintained his status as one of the top quarterbacks in the game. This is because Mahomes is still one of the top quarterbacks in the game. In some ways, Mahomes’ inability to produce the video game-like stats and amazing plays that he was accustomed to was unexpected.
ESPN analyst Ryan Clark was taken aback. Clark, who played safety in the NFL, has been monitoring Mahomes’ growth since he established a new record with 50 touchdown passes last year. Mahomes and the Chiefs, according to Clark, may not be the same after this season.
On November 14, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, this photograph was shot. In this photo, quarterback Patrick Mahomes (right) and running back Darrel Williams (left) are congratulating one other (left).
Defensive coordinators throughout the NFL quickly discovered what wasn’t working against Mahomes.
On 55 percent of Mahomes’ drops this season, opponents deployed two safeties in deep throw coverage, according to ESPN coverage metrics based on NFL Next Gen Stats. Mahomes encountered two-deep safety coverage on 41% of his dropbacks before becoming a starter, which was sixth in the NFL during his three years as a starter.
The safeties in a zone defense cover a large portion of the field. Mahomes utilized cover 2 on 26 percent of his drops. That puts him ahead of every other player in the league. Only 14% of the time in the last 15 years has a quarterback been blitzed. This is the lowest rate in that time span for any quarterback. In his first three seasons, he got blitzed 20% of the time.
This season, Mahomes passed for 4.9 yards per attempt, which ranked 30th in the NFL. Mahomes averaged 6.5 yards per game on the run in his first three seasons. Mahomes also had the second-most completions of five yards or less (13th) and the fewest throws of 20 yards or more when he played last season.
The Chiefs had to go from having the quickest attack in the NFL to one that took its time. The major ways Mahomes, Reid, and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy accomplished their finest work were through running and short throws. They made the best of what defense had to provide in order to rescue their season. While their defense was in disarray, the club adjusted their attacking plan.
Despite throwing fewer deep passes than in the past, Mahomes completed the season in the top five in passing yards, touchdown passes, and overall QBR. For the third year in a row, the Chiefs (12-5) have won at least 12 games, which is an NFL record. It’s not horrible at all.
New questions are frequently raised throughout the playoffs. For the first time in his life, Mahomes may have to deal with some unfriendly individuals.