So the Chiefs crushed it on Sunday in terms of turnovers. They got six picks off of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets, leading to eight turnovers in total.
It was a game that stayed way closer than it should have, but the Chiefs ended up shutting the Jets down and coasting to victory with ease because of those takeaways.
Give them all the credit in the world. Turnovers are the stat in the NFL.
In some games, nothing else matters. Find the team that won the turnover battle and you find the team that won the game. Sure, there are outliers and examples of teams winning despite losing the turnover battle, but it’s generally true. The Chiefs, with their +5 turnover differential on the season, are looking pretty good.
Marcus Peters deserves special mention here for his two picks — the reason he just won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week Award. That’s the second time he’s snagged two picks in a game already this year, meaning he has half of last year’s total. Remember, he led the NFL last year and won Defensive Rookie of the Year. Even if this pace doesn’t quite hold, he’s likely to smash his own records and lead the league again.
One problem, though, is that the differential from that game was +7. Spencer Ware lost a fumble, the only giveaway on the day. That’s terrific for one game, but, with the Chiefs at just +5 overall, it means that they’ve not only not been winning decisively during the rest of their games, but that they’ve actually been losing the turnover battle. They came into the day at -2.
Things always tend to work their way toward average — water tends to find its own level — and that day against the Jets is not what the Chiefs average. They’re not going to do that week-in and week-out.
Plus, Sunday’s game was as much a meltdown by the Jets and Fitzpatrick as anything else. That’s not to take anything away from the Chiefs, but the reality is that he got in a downward spiral and everything just kept falling apart. Plus, down in the fourth, he had to force it.
Again, there was a lot to love about the performance, starting with Peters. And the Chiefs should be excited about their potential on defense and what they can do when everything goes their way.
But, for Andy Reid and the coaching staff, they have to look at the reality.
In their two other games, they averaged a -1 in turnover differential, putting them two down. Fitzpatrick is turnover prone and gave them a huge boost, but they can’t afford to think that’s not a problem now because of one game that is an outlier. They could lose the battle at -2 in their next two straight games as still be in the positive, but it wouldn’t mean they are playing winning football.
What the Chiefs need to focus on is consistently edging out their opponents. You don’t have to win the battle at +7 every week. If that’s what it takes for you to win, there are bigger problems. Typically, just coming out of a game at +1 or +2 should give a team the boost it needs to win.
The team has proven that it has the talent. Many thought the loss of Sean Smith would really hurt their defense. Well, the Chiefs are getting six picks in one game and Smith is playing for a Raiders team that gives up more yards than anyone else in the NFL, with his defense ranked dead last.
People also wondered if Peters could live up to his performance as ROTY now that he was the No. 1 corner, and he’s notched four picks in three games. These are huge positives to build off of.
They simply need to make sure they’re winning the turnover battle consistently, and they’ll keep winning.