Why Isiah Pacheco Is Kansas City's Secret Weapon

Kansas City Chiefs RB Isiah Pacheco
Kansas City Chiefs RB Isiah Pacheco
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Super Bowl - Each year at this time, we like to devote our Quick Reads columns to the two teams headed to the Super Bowl, looking not at when they played at their best, but when they played at their worst. The Eagles and Chiefs are good teams, yes, but they are not perfect. What weaknesses were opponents able to exploit and make these championship clubs look beatable—and in some cases, beaten? Since Philadelphia was the first team to officially clinch a berth in the Super Bowl, we'll start with them today, then cover Kansas City next week.

According to DVOA, these were the Eagles' worst four games this season (with one exception, which we shall explain shortly) in chronological order:

  • Week 5: Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Arizona Cardinals 17. The Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a pair of long touchdown drives, combining for 27 plays and more than 11 minutes in time of possession, but never found the end zone again. Kyler Murray shook off an early interception to rally the Cardinals and tie the game 17-all in the fourth quarter. The Eagles responded with another long drive (17 plays, nearly eight minutes in time) and got a field goal from Cameron Dicker (remember him?) for a 20-17 lead. Murray used some short completions and scrambles to get Arizona into field goal range, but Matt Ammendola's 43-yard try was no good. Murray completed 28 of 42 passes for 250 yards, which doesn't sound great. With full-season opponent adjustments, however, he finished with 131 passing DYAR, the best of any quarterback against Philadelphia all season. In all those passes (plus a pair of scrambles), he was only sacked one time against a defense that had multiple sacks in 16 of their 19 games. Jalen Hurts, for his part, went 26-of-36 for only 239 yards, adding 15 carries for 61 yards and two scores.
  • Week 9: Philadelphia Eagles 29 at Houston Texans 17. It says a lot about the strength of the Eagles that one of their worst games was a 12-point win on the road, but of course the Texans were terrible and opponent adjustments are wreaking havoc here. That said, the Eagles definitely had their hands full for about 45 minutes in Houston. Jake Elliott missed a 54-yard field goal try on the last play of the second quarter, leaving the score tied 14-all, and Philadelphia opened the second half with a pair of three-and-outs before a C.J. Gardner-Johnson interception set up a 17-yard touchdown drive. The Texans drove 63 yards in 12 plays on their next possession, but stalled out in the red zone, settling for a 30-yard Ka'imi Fairbairn field goal that cut the lead to 21-17 late in the third quarter. Philadelphia responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive and two-point conversion, taking a 12-point lead, and Houston never seriously threatened again. The Texans did a fine job limiting Hurts' mobility, sacking him four times and holding him to 23 rushing yards on nine carries, but he still went 21-of-27 passing for 243 yards, and Eagles running backs combined for 120 yards on 22 carries. The Philadelphia defense sacked Davis Mills three times and intercepted him twice, but also gave up a pair of touchdown passes, and Dameon Pierce finished with 139 rushing yards on 27 carries.
  • Week 11: Philadelphia Eagles 17 at Indianapolis Colts 16. This was Jeff Saturday's second game as Colts coach, fresh off an upset victory over the Raiders that would prove to be Indianapolis' last win of the season. They had opportunities to upset the Eagles, too, leading 13-3 at the start of the fourth quarter. Jalen Hurts cut that lead to 13-10 with a 23-yard scramble and a 22-yard touchdown pass to Quez Watkins. The two teams then traded fumbles before Matt Ryan led Indy to a first down at the Eagles' 5-yard line with about five minutes to go, needing a touchdown to ice the game. Haason Reddick sacked Ryan on third down, however, forcing the Colts to kick a field goal and take the dreaded six-point lead. That let the Eagles move ahead on a 75-yard touchdown drive, with Hurts running for a fourth-down conversion and then a 7-yard score. The Colts still had one more crack at a winning field goal, but another third-down sack left Ryan with fourth-and-21, where he could only manage a 5-yard dumpoff to Deon Jackson. Philadelphia's running backs couldn't do much on the ground, combining for only 55 yards on 17 carries. So Hurts toted the rock himself, running 16 times for 86 yards and a touchdown, adding 18 completions in 25 pass attempts for 190 yards. For the Colts, Ryan went 23-of-32 for 213 yards, taking four sacks, while Jonathan Taylor ran 22 times for 84 yards.
  • Week 15: Philadelphia Eagles 25 at Chicago Bears 20. Yes, another road win over a bad team; the Eagles certainly had a habit of playing down to their level of opposition. The Bears had three drives in the second half down 17-13 with a chance to take the lead but turned them into a fumble and a pair of punts. A.J. Brown finally ripped off a 68-yard catch to set up Jalen Hurts' 1-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion that put Philadelphia up by two scores. Justin Fields threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Byron Pringle to give the Eagles one last scare, but Philadelphia recovered the ensuing onside kick and got a first down to run out the clock. The NFL's preeminent rushing quarterbacks did not disappoint, with Fields running 15 times for 95 yards and Hurts running 17 times for 61 yards and three touchdowns. Hurts also threw a pair of interceptions but got big days out of both Brown (nine catches for 181 yards) and DeVonta Smith (five for 126). Fields went 14-of-21 for 152 yards and two touchdowns, though he was also sacked six times.

As for the exception we alluded to earlier: Philadelphia's worst DVOA of the year was actually in Week 17, when they lost at home 20-10 to the New Orleans Saints. However, Jalen Hurts missed that game with a shoulder injury, and so we have chosen to ignore it. We should also point out that we are including the Week 15 game against Chicago in which Hurts suffered his injury; it's not clear when the injury occurred, and Hurts didn't miss a single snap, so we're counting it. If you did want to remove that from the data set, Philadelphia's next-worst game was in the season opener, a 38-35 win over the Lions in Detroit.

When the Eagles had the Ball

The Bears had the worst defensive DVOA in the league, and none of the Colts (14th), Texans (22nd), or Cardinals (24th) were particularly good either. So a lot of Philly's raw offensive numbers in these allegedly bad games look awfully impressive. Jalen Hurts threw just a pair of interceptions while completing 69.6% of his passes for 7.9 yards per throw with a sack rate of 7.4%, about the same as his full-season rates. He averaged 246.8 yards in the Eagles' four bad games, 246.7 yards in his other 11 appearances. And though he only threw for three touchdowns, he made up for that by rushing for six. In fact, Hurts' rushing volume was significantly higher in these games (averaging 14.3 carries for 57.8 yards) than it was otherwise (9.8 for 48.1), though his yards per carry fell from 4.9 to 4.1.

Since Hurts' passing stats were so consistent, it follows that his top receivers didn't see much dropoff in bad games either. Indeed, top wide receivers A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Quez Watkins and tight end Dallas Goedert averaged 17.8 catches and 230.3 yards in the Eagles' worst games, compared to 18.2 catches for 257.0 the rest of the year. (Goedert missed five games this season, including the Indianapolis and Chicago contest.) Their collective yards per catch dipped a bit, but their catch rate actually went up from 66.0% to 72.4%. Their DVOA dipped from 15.3% to 7.9%, but that's to be expected considering Hurts was running for touchdowns instead of throwing them.

Process of elimination would then tell you that the Eagles' running backs must have faltered, and good gravy was that ever true. The three-headed committee of Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell averaged 17.8 carries for 75.0 yards in Philadelphia's worst games, collectively gaining 4.2 yards per carry with a -9.8% DVOA; in all other Eagles games, they averaged 22.7 carries for 109.7 yards, with 4.8 yards per carry and a 19.6% DVOA. The difference is even more stark in the passing game. They averaged 2.8 catches in both sets of games, but their average gain fell from 6.5 yards to 2.1, and their receiving DVOA fell from an already poor -14.1% to -34.6%. Yes, that's all skewed by Sanders' 13-yard loss and a fumble on a weird play against the Bears, but Scott and Gainwell only gained 29 yards on seven catches themselves.

The highlights will usually show you Jalen Hurts touchdown runs and long bombs to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, but stopping the Eagles starts with clamping down on their running backs.

When the Other Team had the Ball

Oddly, it's the same story here as it was for the Eagles offense: It's all about the running backs. Houston's Dameon Pierce ran for 139 yards against Philadelphia. Indianapolis' Jonathan Taylor ran for 84. The Arizona combo of James Conner and Eno Benjamin had 80. Chicago's David Montgomery had 53, and his quarterback, Justin Fields, had 95. (Actually, speaking of quarterbacks, Kyler Murray ran for 42 yards against Philadelphia, which seems relevant.) They weren't always efficient—Taylor's 84 yards came with a DVOA of -46.6%, thanks mainly to a key fumble—but these running backs averaged nearly 100 yards on the ground against the Eagles, game for game. We have written before about how the Eagles' run defense improved in the second half of the season, but it's still one of their bigger weaknesses, as Taylor, Fields, and Montgomery can tell you.

Otherwise? This looks like the same dominant Philadelphia defense we saw for most of the year. The Murray-Mills-Ryan-Fields quartet (plus one throw by Nathan Peterman) completed 66.1% of their passes for 6.5 yards per throw with a sack rate of 10.6%, right in line with the Eagles defense's full-season stats. No individual wideout gained 80 receiving yards, no tight end gained 50, no running back gained 40. In fact, backs and tight ends combined for only 217 receiving yards in these outings, an average of 54.3 per game. Wide receivers would occasionally find openings for big catches—Byron Pringle, Phillip Dorsett, Parris Campbell, Rondale Moore, Marquise Brown, Chris Moore, Michael Pittman, and Equanimeous St. Brown each had a catch for 20 yards or more—but in total they averaged only 138.0 yards per game. This was the NFL's best pass defense in 2022, and even at its worst it still looked impenetrable.

How the Chiefs Match Up

Well … not great, at least not on defense. Kansas City was right in the middle of the pack in run defense DVOA, and bottom-five in both DVOA and yardage allowed on passes to running backs. Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry, Kenneth Walker, and Samaje Perine each ran for over 100 yards against the Chiefs. Kansas City fell outside the bottom 20 in adjusted line yards, stuff rate, and second-level yards allowed. This is not a defense designed to shut down running backs.

The offense, however, might be able to hit the Eagles where they are vulnerable. The Chiefs were ninth in run offense DVOA and third in adjusted line yards—they excelled in reeling off consistent productive runs. Isiah Pacheco quietly made the top 10 running backs in both DYAR and DVOA.

This may all be surprising to you because the Chiefs were only 20th in rushing yardage even though they were ahead in the second half more often than not. Pacheco had just one game with 20 carries in his rookie season. But all of that says more about their willingness to run than their ability to do so. The Chiefs do not like to run early—only the Bengals had fewer runs in the first half of games this year—but they may need to alter their game plan to keep the Eagles off-balance, and to keep their quarterback upright. Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce will get most of the spotlight over the next two weeks, but Pacheco may be their most important weapon.

Join us next week when we look at what happened in the Chiefs' worst four games, and whether the Eagles will be able to exploit the weaknesses they showed there.


35 comments, Last at 01 Feb 2023, 4:00pm

#1 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 11:01am

KC's problem with exploiting the Eagles' defensive weakness is two-fold:

  1. Reid doesn't like running. In two games in which the Chiefs have never trailed and Mahomes has been injured, they have still thrown 30 more times than they have rushed, and Mahomes is six of those rushes.
  2. KC can't power rush. KC rushes really effective as a change-up tactic. They are comically bad at it when they want to rush and the defense also knows they want to rush.

The teams that got Philly basically did so by bludgeoning inside the tackles for 4-5 yards per gain, and just kept doing that. KC is allergic to that tactic, and Reid has never favored it, even when he had a HOVG backfield. 

Where KC may actually have tactical success beyond Mahomes just making something happen because he does that sometimes is letting Pacheco get a couple of short first downs and 50-60 yards, and then scramble for a bunch of yards himself. The only team that Philly let do that and pass was Dallas, in a game where they were -3 on turnovers.

I tend to think KC's defense needs Philly's offense to self-destruct. That's basically the common thread in their losses.

Points: 4

#3 by OmahaChiefs13 // Jan 31, 2023 - 12:20pm

KC can't power rush. KC rushes really effective as a change-up tactic. They are comically bad at it when they want to rush and the defense also knows they want to rush.

Part of why we're comically bad at it is that we frequently only really want to run on short yardage, and like in many areas, we can't just be normal about it.

We roster a FB. We even use him....but usually only on 3rd or 4th and very short, and nearly always as an upback runner, not a blocker. When Burton comes onto the field, everyone within 100 miles knows he's going to slam into the middle of the line.

I mean...he can block. I've seen him do it like twice...I know it's possible. 

Likewise with our outright refusal to run a normal QB sneak after a freak injury that happened 4 years ago now. If a TE goes in motion on short yardage, everyone knows they're going to stop behind center and take the snap to sneak.

I kind of think that if we came out in an I formation and handed off to the HB, it might actually be effective....if only because a third of the defense might die of shock.

Nobody knows, because to your point, we haven't done it since...early last season? Maybe?

Points: 2

#4 by apocalipstick // Jan 31, 2023 - 12:47pm

I've noticed that the Chiefs never, and I mean never, just put their hands on the ground and fire out. Their runs are mostly semi-draw zone concepts utilizing soft blocking. It's up to the RB to find and exploit a seam. A defense that doesn't run a bunch of stunts and simply pushes ahead can disrupt that strategy pretty easily. Pacheco's edge over Edwards-Hilaire, for example, is that he seems to pick a seam and hit it pretty quickly.

Points: 0

#6 by OmahaChiefs13 // Jan 31, 2023 - 1:54pm

It's especially frustrating because the strength of our line....especially the interior....should be precisely that style (fire off the ball mauling).

Points: 0

#14 by apocalipstick // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:52pm

And that's where Orlando Brown is a true All-Pro. He's not a real pass-protection LT.

Points: 0

#2 by RickD // Jan 31, 2023 - 12:13pm

Interesting that the Eagles' lowest DVOA scores were all in wins vs. bottom-feeding teams. I didn't watch any of those games (aside from perhaps snippets on RedZone) but I did see a lot of their loss to the Commanders, when they did not look as good as they usually do.  How did the Commies pull off that upset?  Fewer mistakes: turnovers and penalties.  And they pounded away at the running game: even though it wasn't spectacular, they got enough yardage to keep converting first downs and dominated the clock by more than a 2:1 ratio.  

I don't think the Chiefs can become a run-first team, and I don't think that's their path to victory.  You've gotta be who you are.  They have to contain the Eagle pass rush, get enough going with the short passing game, and make fewer mistakes.  See if they can rattle Jalen Hurts and hope Mahomes has another Superman game in him. On paper, the Eagles should win this (DVOA notwithstanding).  But...fill in the cliche' here.

Points: 2

#35 by TecmoBoso // Feb 01, 2023 - 4:00pm

Their worst games were against the four worst teams in the league by DVOA... fortunate timing or not 'getting up' for the game?

I understand the thinking of the Eagles being favorites... but they also haven't faced an offense like **this**. It will be interesting to see if KC can get out to an early lead if that forces the Eagles to be a bit more one dimensional than we've seen this year and that sort of 'exploits' Hurts.

On the other hand, I can see the Eagles getting out to a lead and then just grinding KC to a loss... we'll see!

Points: 0

#5 by laflamablanca87 // Jan 31, 2023 - 1:52pm

How has the Eagles number one ranked defense in pass DVOA performed against top 10 offenses in Pass DVOA (Other than SF last week every qb injured)? Did they not get lit up by the only top 10 ish (Dak) qb they faced? I think the Chiefs will be comfortable attacking Philadelphia with the passing game. 

Points: 0

#8 by whocares4 // Jan 31, 2023 - 2:46pm

The only thing working against that argument is that in the second Dallas game, both Avonte Maddox and CJGJ were out (Maddox got re-injured and left the game after having a huge impact in his limited playing time). From there, the Cowboys' offense used a lot of motion and pre-snap strategies to get Lamb lined up over and over on Josiah Scott, a career backup who is somewhere between replacement level and "useless practice squader." Gannon made zero adjustments for this, which was frustrating to watch so Dallas had a field day targeting Scott... but if the Chiefs' plan is "replicate Dallas' success in the passing game" that's going to be very difficult with Maddox in there (who is only the faintest step down in quality from their 2 Pro Bowl CBs on the outside, if he's even a step down at all.) 

And having ball-hawking, coverage-oriented safety CJGJ back adds another dimension - he's pretty rough in run defense but he's a gambler and wildcard in pass defense who has the ability to deeply disrupt games, while rarely blowing coverage. I have no doubt an offense as talented as an even somewhat healthy Mahomes/Reid Chiefs team could throw on literally any team in the league but a hobbled Mahomes versus this pass-rush might be the only circumstances in which it is not safe to bet on it.

(And again, Dallas was only able to win/put up 40 because of mistakes the Minshew-led offense made: the QB had 2 interceptions & 2 fumbles (1 lost) and Miles Sander threw in another fumble.)

Points: 4

#7 by T_McClure // Jan 31, 2023 - 1:54pm

Let's see ... I'm pretty sure the Houston game was the Thursday after Jordan Davis got injured, so the *meh* Eagles run defense took a dip to terrible before Linval Joseph and N. Suh could be integrated to the team.  Dameon Pierce had a very good game, but I don't think the Chiefs can take much from this as they don't have a power running game.

The Chicago game showed that Jalen Hurts had no experience passing when the wind was blowing.  He really struggled with accuracy and part of the Bears ability to clamp down on the Eagles' RBs was crowding the line and counting on the wind to "assist" defending passes more than 15 yds downfield.  I suspect Chicago's approach to the Eagles offense was similar to what the 49ers did on Sunday, where the 49ers pressed the WRs and were willing to take their chances on the injured(?) Hurts' ability to be accurate deep downfield.  Maybe that is an approach KC would emulate. [Chicago's offense wrapped me in a warm blanket of nostalgia: it was like watching prime Randall Cunningham.. Everybody go deep and wait for the QB to run, so of no relevance to KC.]

The Indy game was the only game Jalen Hurts started this season where I thought the Eagles played badly.  They played kind of flat and dumb.  Checking the stats is looks like tackling was a problem [Taylor had a lower yards before contact than any of the Eagles' RBs (or Hurts) but did much better after contact]. 

The Eagles' less-than-great tackling is something the Chiefs could exploit, but not necessarily in the running game.  I feel like you have to be very patient against the Eagles' defense.  Attack the short middle repeatedly (primarily with passes) and don't worry about challenging deep or outside; make the Eagles' LBs cover receivers and the Eagles' secondary tackle (that can also include short outside passes to good WRs).  Dallas (and the Heinecke-Commies) have been able to execute this gameplan but no one else really has. Probably because if you're not executing a high level in the red zone it leads to a lot of "successful" drives for FGs, and then you have to count on stopping the Eagles' offense.  [This is the same way you wanted to attack the early-90s Cowboys, but the Triplets punished you for trying.]  

I know Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes can attack the middle of a defense.  But I'm not sure the Chiefs' defense will let them avoid taking the chances that allow the Eagles' D-Line to heavily influence the game.

Points: 1

#9 by whocares4 // Jan 31, 2023 - 2:48pm

Yeah, I'm always surprised how little patience teams have against them. I think SF could've won with Johnson in there if they had just taken a mulligan going into the half and kept pounding McCaffrey (it's also a good way to avoid your clueless 4th string back-up from getting obliterated by your protection schemes that call on back-up TEs and RBs to stop the man who easily could've been DPOY.)

Points: 0

#11 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:00pm

It takes a lot of patience.

Washington required 78 plays to get to 330 yards. They had 21 3rd downs. Basically every set of downs got to 3rd down because they ran 3rd-down-cloud-of-dust every play. They converted on 3rd or 4th down 13 times.

It also required a bunch of 3-outs by Philly. It's hard to run away from Philly that way. You really need at least two feature backs to try to do it, and it helps if you have a running QB.

You are basically asking the Chiefs to cosplay as the Ravens.

Points: 0

#20 by whocares4 // Jan 31, 2023 - 4:51pm

I wasn't thinking of the Superbowl matchup specifically - the Chiefs should unquestionably play their game. Their track record is more than strong enough that they should feel comfortable living or dying by it. If the Eagles stifle them, it'll be for the same reasons the Bucs did: the pass-rush getting home and disrupting Mahomes (in this case because he's gimpy, not because their line fell apart). But the Chiefs should feel comfortable doing what they do - it works a massive amount of the time even against the very best teams in the league...

Points: 1

#22 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 4:55pm

There's a chance KC can tear through Philly's D like they did through Buffalo's.

Points: 2

#25 by whocares4 // Jan 31, 2023 - 6:30pm

I don't know, that's maybe not the best comparison - Buffalo's pass defense was 9th in the league at -4.9% compared to Philly's league-leading -15.4% pass defense. But more importantly Buffalo had a sack rate in the bottom half of the league at 6.7% compared to Philly's otherworldly 11.2%. Buffalo's strength on defense was not their pass rush or outside coverage, they're almost the complete inverse of Philly's pass defense in many ways.

In fact, going through it, it doesn't seem like KC has played many teams this year with a strong, let alone near-historic, pass rush. I was surprised to see SF's sack rate is mediocre - the best ones faced are middle-of-the-pack teams like the Chargers and Seahawks. It doesn't feel super-meaningful that the best pass rush they faced this year was the Colts at 7.8% and they pulled off the upset, but it's probably worth mentioning. (But again, the Colts rush in that same slew of 14  mediocre pass rushing teams all bunched between 8.0%-6.9%.)

It's also I think important that Philly gets after the QB without bringing the blitz - they're the opposite of KC in that way. (KC is 2nd in sack rate - and Hurts is terrible against the blitz, incidentally.) So they can imitate the teams that have had "success" against Mahomes by sticking in shell type coverage and still apply huge pressure.

Points: 0

#33 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 01, 2023 - 1:27pm

Which Buffalo game are you referring to? The 2022 regular season game? It was his 3rd lowest QB rating and KC's 3rd lowest scoring output, and that was back when Buffalo had a healthy Von Miller so our sack and pressure rates were substantially higher.

Points: 0

#10 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 2:52pm

Dallas (and the Heinecke-Commies) have been able to execute this gameplan but no one else really has. Probably because if you're not executing a high level in the red zone it leads to a lot of "successful" drives for FGs, and then you have to count on stopping the Eagles' offense.  

That game plan requires you to never get behind schedule. The Giants tried that game plan, but a single failed play essentially ruins that drive. You keep churning a few first downs, but a drop on 2nd-7 just murders your drive, because now you can't just go off-tackle and hope to get three yards.

Dallas needed short fields in the second game -- they started 3 drives in plus territory, two of which were already in FG range. They needed that last 13 yard 'scoring drive', because the Eagles ended the game with a first down in the red zone with 0:34 left. Had they only needed a FG, that game goes to OT.

The Eagles actually shut Pollard down in the second game -- it was Dak who got a bunch of their yards. The guy they struggled with was Elliott, though. They can handle speedy guys (see Minnesota), it's bruisers who trouble them (see Indianapolis). Dallas could pass only when they were having rushing success. The first game got away from them because they tried to pass to catch up, and that worked poorly.

Healthy KC might be able to exploit this, but a KC with one healthy RB (a speed guy) and a gimpy Mahomes is going to have trouble.

Washington ran a really good game plan, but they also needed Watkins to fumble at the end of the 50 yard completion and the refs to ignore when they used Goedert's head like a twist-top and recovered the world's dirtiest "fumble" in plus-territory. They also needed Slye to convert two long-range FGs. Even in those games Philly lost or looked bad, they either won, had the lead in the 4th, or had the ball within a score in the 4th.

Points: 3

#12 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:06pm

The optimal game state for KC requires one or both of:

  1. Mahomes goes Super Saiyan and all reasonable analyses therefore become crap.
  2. The Eagles offense keeps puking the ball up.

Philly did that three times in 2022, going 1-2 in those games.

Points: 4

#24 by jkevinking52 // Jan 31, 2023 - 5:58pm

Yeah agreed. To my eyes they only were substantially outplayed in one half of the Saints game.

Points: 0

#13 by mrh // Jan 31, 2023 - 3:48pm

PHI 2022 Def DVOA vs. Pass -15.5% KC 2022 OFF Pass 41.1%

SF 2019 Def DVOA vs. Pass -24.0% KC 2019 OFF Pass 46.9%

PHI might stop the Chiefs passing game, especially since most of the players involved are banged up and the season-long DVOA might not be relevant for the offense they will put on the field in two weeks.  But a better defense did not (SF 2019 was -15.4% against the run vs. PHI 2022 -1.9% so those 49ers were better in both ways - yes, I know that DVOA is baselined by season).

Points: 1

#18 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 4:32pm

A factor is that this is an healthy and deep as Philly's defense has been all season. (Suh and Joseph weren't around at the beginning of the season)

This past week was probably the most banged up KC has been all year on offense.

Health will matter in two weeks.

Points: 2

#28 by shaunnewkirk // Jan 31, 2023 - 8:00pm

For the first three quarter of that game the 49ers held the Chiefs to 237 yards on 53 plays (4.4 yards per play) and 10 points, with two interceptions.

They just collapsed in the 4th, combined with SF not scoring a single point in the final 17 minutes of game time despite having four drives to try.

Points: 1

#32 by jkevinking52 // Feb 01, 2023 - 11:29am

I think the point is that a good defense can contain Mahomes.

Points: 0

#34 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 01, 2023 - 1:30pm

The Chiefs have always been capable of playing stupid hot for stretches. Against Buffalo in the divisional last year, he gained some absurd number - like 175 passing yards and two tds - after the 2 minute warning.

Points: 0

#15 by mrh // Jan 31, 2023 - 4:12pm

One interesting factoid which may not be relevant:  the four teams that gave KC the most trouble this year (BUF, CIN, IND, and TEN - three losses and an OT win for the Chiefs) all had defenses that had better DVOAs against the run than against the pass.

Points: 0

#17 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 4:29pm

It's weird that the three teams that really troubled the Eagles and Chiefs were the Colts, Texans, and Cardinals.

Points: 0

#19 by T_McClure // Jan 31, 2023 - 4:34pm

This may just be evidence that even professionals can't be emotionally "up" every week.  I fondly recall the one week every season that Andy Reid's Eagles teams would look like no one told them there was a game that week.

Points: 7

#23 by Vincent Verhei // Jan 31, 2023 - 5:31pm

Hey, the Chiefs beat the Cardinals by 23 points! (But you are right about Indy and Houston. Stop spoiling my article for next week!)

Points: 5

#16 by T_McClure // Jan 31, 2023 - 4:15pm

I suspect this will come up later this week, but recall the Eagles and Chiefs played in 2021 (Wk 4 @ PHL).

Fun game.  The Eagles had 7 non-half-ending possessions.  Three TDs, three FGs, one turnover on downs (@ KC 35).  Kansas City also had 7 "real possessions" ... Six TDs and an interception.  :lol:  [By the way, two of the Eagles' FGs followed TDs being nullified by penalties.  So this was almost 42-38.]

And this was before the Eagles knew what they were doing.  They only had 10 carries by running backs because Nick Sirianni was still running the Greatest Texas High School Offense of 2012 (WR screen after WR screen after WR screen ...).  Jalen Hurts threw for 387 yards with either Jalen Reagor or Quez Watkins as the #2 WR.  I know we've been discussing how the Chiefs O can attack the Eagles D, but how much better has the Chiefs defense gotten?  I've preaching a patient approach but that doesn't jibe very well with "you need to get in the 30s".

On the other side, this was exhibit A for why Eagles fans wanted Jonathon Gannon to get a head-coaching gig last off-season.  The Eagles D was completely non-competitive.  The Chiefs were going to score every time they had the ball.  But Gannon had certain players in mind for the system he wanted to play and he got them this year, and what a difference that has made.

I just have more respect for coaches that can adjust the system to the talent on hand, and that may hold Gannon back on the HC interview circuit.

Points: 2

#26 by whocares4 // Jan 31, 2023 - 6:34pm

I can't figure out Gannon. I absolutely HATE watching his defense a lot of the time but the results don't lie: at the end of the game, he's kept the other team out of the endzone, generated sacks & turnovers, and frequently kept the Eagles in the games where the offense isn't functioning right. 

If they hold the Chiefs to 20 point while getting 3 sacks & 2 killer turnovers, it won't surprise me. If the Chiefs put up 50+ on them, it won't surprise me.

Points: 1

#27 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 31, 2023 - 7:05pm

He’s frustratingly passive, but he basically demands the opposing offense get 50 yards downfield by converting four first downs, and if they can do that, holding them to a field goal.

Its not always pretty, but it works pretty well.

Points: 1

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