Short Scoring Drives the Norm Against Both Defenses

As we’ve previously pointed out in the Captain’s Blog here, the Chiefs’ offense has had serious turnover issues this season, which has led directly to nearly half of the points Kansas City has allowed so far.  Not surprisingly, that’s reflected in the statistics regarding the amount of yards, plays and seconds opposing teams have had to devote to scoring points against the Chiefs.  Simply put, Kansas City’s foes haven’t had to work as hard for their points this season.

What may not have been as obvious, considering that the Buccaneers are actually ranked 10th in turnover ratio this year with a margin of +2, is that Tampa Bay’s opponents have also done much of their damage on short drives, relatively speaking.  In fact, both the Buccaneers and the Chiefs rank in the “top six” in all three drive-charting categories – plays, yards and time consumed – in terms of the smallest numbers required.

This might be clearer in chart form:

Average Length of Opposing Scoring Drives

  Plays Yards Time
Bucs 6.61 56.3 2:59
    Bucs’ Rank 2nd 6th 3rd
Chiefs 6.68 48.7 3:08
    Chiefs’ Rank 3rd 2nd 5th

Now, we put the words “top six” in quotation marks because, while that’s where the two teams rank if these tables are organized from smallest numbers to largest, it’s not necessarily an indication of better or worse performance.  Again, in the Chiefs’ case, the shorter drives are largely the function of bad field position due to turnovers.  That’s not the case with the Buccaneers, but it’s unclear whether that means Tampa Bay’s defense has been tough to drive long distances against or whether they have tended to give up yards in large chunks.  The truth is probably somewhere in between, and certainly the results of the team’s 41-34 loss to the Giants in Week Two seemed to tilt toward the latter explanation.

It’s worth noting that many of the defenses ranked at the “bottom” of the plays table – that is, their opposing scoring drives have had the largest number of average plays – are among the league’s top-performing defensive units this year.  San Francisco, for instance, is 31st on the list, while Baltimore is 30th, Minnesota is 29th and Chicago is 24th.

What that table does suggest, given that the Bucs and Chiefs have both mostly been scored on by short drives this year, is that turnovers and special teams – those two huge determinants in field position – will play a big role in Sunday’s outcome.

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