The Kansas City Chiefs are widely considered favorites in their first-round NFL playoff matchup when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. While that may be the case, their preparation remains focused on the ‘little things.’
In recent seasons, the Chiefs have put together a high-octane offense that tends to pour points on the defense early and often. This season, Kansas City has sputtered at times after getting an early touchdown instead of keeping their foot on the gas pedal.
Perhaps nothing quite puts it better into perspective than the stat from ESPN’s Adam Teicher, which explains the Chiefs had arguably the best opening drive and first quarter offense in the NFL this season. However, their scoring pace would slow down in the second quarter.
The Chiefs led the NFL during the regular season with nine first-possession touchdowns. They were tied for the league lead in first-quarter scoring by averaging 7.65 points. They scored a first-quarter touchdown in their final 10 games, the third-longest streak within a season in NFL history.
In Denver, the Chiefs managed one more offensive touchdown and two field goals after their opening drive. During their 17 games, they were 20th in scoring from the second quarter on at 19.4 points per game.
Patrick Mahomes made it clear that he needs to clean things up before the playoffs. Kansas City has thrived when the team is playing within the scripted 15-first plays of the game, but has clear room for improvement when the flow of the game progresses.
“It’s just little things here and there,” Mahomes said, via ESPN Staff Writer Adam Teicher. “That’s how it is in this league. We’ve been blessed enough that we’ve been able to execute at a high level these last few years, including pretty much the beginning half of this season, that we don’t have to worry about them. But you’re seeing that with the little things here and there on drives. They’re stalling out, and that starts with me getting us into the right play and making the right throw to get the completion.”
Mahomes understands that he needs to clean things up before the playoffs. Whether it’s changing the call at the line before the snap, being a little more accurate on the throw, or everyone in the offense simply being more disciplined, there’s plenty of room for growth.
“You’ve seen it in every game pretty much that there’s been times where we kind of stall out and we don’t execute or I throw a ball and don’t hit the right spot, or the receiver doesn’t see it the same way I do, or penalties or turnovers.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers have some playmakers on defense that can catch the Chiefs slipping if they are not being disciplined. While Ben Roethlisberger is probably playing in what is likely his last few NFL snaps, he is still a veteran quarterback that has succeeded in the playoffs.
If the Kansas City Chiefs take care of business against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it could serve as a great test for the team to establish a rhythm in the later rounds of the NFL playoffs.