The Kansas City Chiefs notched their eighth win of the season Sunday, a 37-21 victory over the Cleveland Browns. MVP front-runner Patrick Mahomes continues his domination of the NFL — he leads the league in passing yards (2,901) and touchdowns (29) — and is a big reason his team leads the league in yards (41.9) and points per drive (3.3). The defense is suspect, but that shouldn’t be a problem this week against the Arizona Cardinals.
Kansas City Chiefs, 89 percent win probability
Most of the deficiencies in the Chiefs’ defense are exploited by opposing rushers. Kansas City’s defensive line stops just 15 percent of them at or behind the line of scrimmage, well below the league average of 20 percent. However, the Chiefs have the third-best pass-rushing unit, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus. Linebacker Dee Ford and defensive tackle Chris Jones give the defense a 1-2 punch that can knock any quarterback off his game, let alone one as bad as the players the Cardinals trot out onto the field.
Cardinals quarterbacks have produced a paltry 67.5 passer rating through nine weeks, and Sunday’s starter, rookie Josh Rosen, is the third-least-valuable passer per ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating. To make things even more difficult for him, he lines up behind the league’s third-worst pass-blocking unit. Per Pro Football Focus, Arizona’s offensive line is allowing a sack, hit or hurry on 40 percent of the team’s passing plays, the highest in the NFL; the league average is 26 percent.
When Rosen faces pressure, his passer rating drops from 83.6 to 41.6, which is only a few ticks higher than what a quarterback gets if he throws a pass to the ground (39.6).
Unlike years past, running back David Johnson is of little help. His touches and yards per game are down significantly from his Pro Bowl year of 2016 — he missed all but one game in 2017 because of injury — and the team hasn’t found the right mix of rushing and passing plays.
All this leads to Arizona scoring slightly more than a point per possession, making it the league’s second-worst offense behind the Buffalo Bills, who, according to Football Outsiders, are scoring at a historically low pace after adjusting for strength of schedule. And that’s something even a poor defensive team like the Chiefs can handle.
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