14 Dec Stromme’s Takes: Finding Flaws in Super Bowl Contenders PT. 2
By: Mike Stromme
It honestly tough for me to remember a year where there wasn’t a clear-cut Super Bowl favourite this close to the end of the season. In my opinion, this year’s playoff run is going to be wide open. Each and every one of these teams have flaws, and I am merely here to expose them.
To me, the team that wins the Super Bowl will come down to two factors: which teams can stay healthy and get hot going into the playoffs. After all, in a playoff format that consists of only elimination games, anything can happen. It’s not about how you get there, it’s how you leave.
But anyways, here are some more contending football teams and their flaws. Who will exploit them?
If you want to check out part 1 of this article you can find it here http://thesportscrew.com/strommes-takes-finding-flaws-in-super-bowl-contenders-pt-1/
Kansas City Chiefs:
There’s no doubt that the Kansas City Chiefs are a team worth their weight in gold. In a city as “Royal” as Kansas City, the Chiefs have been damn-near unbeatable.
Since the Kansas City Royals broke their 30-year World Series drought, the Chiefs have won 19 of their last 23 regular season and playoff games. An impressive body of work to say the least.
Coach Bill Parcells once said “you are what you’re record says you are.” Which, for the most part, is a sentiment that I tend to agree with. A ten-win team is typically a playoff participant, a two-win team typically gets to pick at the top of the draft, an 8-8 team usually has just as many flaws as strengths; just as much potential as downfalls. For the most part, a team’s record is indicative of the talent of the players on the field matched with the cognitive quality of the coaching staff.
In my opinion, the Kansas City Chiefs are an exception. They’re a quality football team. They have a strong base of coaches lead by Andy Reid, play-makers on both sides of the ball and a quarterback that doesn’t make too many dumb mistakes. But are they 19-4 good? Are they 10-3 good? Are they Super Bowl-ready? Do they possess the talent of a team that plays to a .826 winning percentage?
I have my doubts.
Don’t misconstrue these words, the Kansas City Chiefs are a quality football team. However, there are a few factors that may suggest that this team is playing over its head.
Stereo-typically speaking, the Chiefs are a team that “sustain drives, avoid turnovers on offense and play good defense.” Well, these notions might be a little over-blown in this case.
Offensively, the Chiefs are basically adequate; and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Here’s a list of offensive categories that the Chiefs do well, but are far from excellent.
- 36.0 scoring percentage (15th)
- 4,353 total yards (12th)
- 3,103 passing yards (12th)
- 1,250 rushing yards (18th)
- 15 passing touchdowns (t-20th)
- 10 rushing touchdowns (t-15th)
- 23.2 points per game (15th)
- 8.0% offensive turnover percentage (t-9th)
- 6.2 % offensive sack percentage (19th)
- 243 total first downs (t-16th)
- 2:43 average drive length (t-15th)
In just about every statistical category that factors into success, the Chief
s are just “meh”. Offensively speaking, they’re just okay. Which is fine, if you have a defense that can back it up.
Talent-wise, the Chiefs have some play-makers. Veteran Safety Eric Berry and second-year CB Marcus Peters are Pro Bowl-caliber DBs. So are LBs Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, NT Dontari Poe should be mentioned in the same breath as his previously mentioned teammates. This defense oozes talent.
With all this talent, the Chiefs still near the bottom of the league in yards allowed; 3,265 passing yards allowed (26th), 1,598 rushing yards allowed (30th). They also have a statistically-underwhelming pass rush, sacking opposing QBs on just 5.3% of dropbacks.
With all these flaws, all these yards given-up, how are they allowing opponents to score on only 30.7% of drives (7th) and ranked 12th in total points allowed (255)?
Turnovers. Lots and lots of turnovers.
The Chiefs have, by far, the best defensive turnover percentage at 16.5%. For comparison’s sake, last year’s Carolina Panthers had 19.4%, the Cardinals had 16.7%. Hell, even last year’s Chiefs team had 15.3%.
The Chiefs are steak without the sizzle offensively and they bend without breaking defensively. This formula may work against most teams. However, it will not work if/when this team runs into the New England Patriots. Tom Brady and co. will take those yards the Chiefs perpetually give up, only to cash them in for touchdowns.
Essentially, the Kansas City Chiefs are a statically average football team that “knows how to win”. A regression to the mean is coming, it’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.
The Seattle Seahawks really haven’t deviated from the team that we saw rise to prominence in 2012. While they may have peaked, they are still a legitimate threat to make noise in the playoffs.
This team has simplistically been broken down over the years as followed. Russell Wilson avoids turnovers, makes big plays at the right time and is complimented with a strong running game despite playing behind a suspect offensive line while the defense locks-down the run, mitigates the passing game and a pass rush that can come up with a key sack at the right time. In a nutshell, this is the Pete Carroll, Legion of Boom, 12th Man-era Seattle Seahawks.
Yes, we all know how important the QB position is in the National Football League. “It’s a quarterback-driven league,” – Just about every play-by-play announcer in the NFL. However, what drives this Seattle team, and has driven this team for the better part of five seasons, is their defense. The defense, the Legion of Boom, is the driving force behind this squad.
Yes, guys have come and gone; that’s almost a certainty in today’s pro sports landscape. But for the most part, this Seattle defense has not changed too much. Role players such as Byron Maxwell, Bruce Irvin, Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith and Brandon Mebane have left via free agency, but the heartbeat of this defense is still here.
For arguement’s sake, the core of this defense is the following players:
(Honourable mentions: Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and K.J. Wright).
Overall, the Seattle Seahawks are 44-22-1 since 2012. Games in which just one of those four core defenders are out of the lineup, Seattle is 10-9-1. They win just over 75% of games when Chancellor, Thomas, Wagner and Sherman are all in the lineup, they barely win half when just one of those guys are missing. I guess now would be a terrible time to bring up the fact that Earl Thomas is out for the season with a broken fibula, wouldn’t it?
The Seahawks walked into Lambeau Field last week and were completely demolished by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in their first game without Earl Thomas. Not a good look. The Seahawks have yet to play a game with two of those key defenders out of the lineup in this 12th Man era. Based on this team’s history, I’d be scared to see that reality if I were a Seahawk-backer.