- AFC No. 1 seed | Record: 14-3
- Odds to win Super Bowl: +310
- Odds to win conference: +145
BIGGEST VULNERABILITY: Patrick Mahomes‘ dip in performance under pressure.
There are so many areas where Mahomes dominates the NFL — he broke the single-season record for offensive yards (5,614) and led the league this season in QB wins, passing yards, passing TDs and total TDs. One factor that matters, though, is what happened this season when Mahomes was under pressure: His passer rating decreased by 61.3 points, per Next Gen Stats. That was the third-largest such drop in 2022, behind only Lamar Jackson (88.6) and Kyler Murray (68). (For what it’s worth, in their Week 10 meeting with the Chiefs, the Jaguars pressured Mahomes on 31.4 percent of his dropbacks, and Jacksonville boasts a pressure rate of 37.4 percent between Week 9 and Super Wild Card Weekend.)
Keeping Mahomes clean pays off, as evidenced by his league-leading 34 passing TDs and 119.0 passer rating when not under pressure in 2022, and minimizing pressure will be a big key to the rest of the Chiefs’ season. Based on the production we saw from their offense, they have the right supporting cast to keep pressure at bay via offensive scheme; Kansas City became the only team in NFL history to have 12 players with 100-plus scrimmage yards and multiple touchdowns in a single season. They’ve had a different leading receiver in five of their last six games. Also, 28 of Mahomes’ 41 TD passes in the regular season went to running backs and tight ends, which ties Mahomes for the most such scoring throws in NFL history (with Y.A. Tittle’s mark from 1963).
One additional note ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Jaguars: In the regular season, the Chiefs’ defense allowed a passer rating of 112.0 against downfield passes (those that travel at least 10 air yards), per NGS, the second-highest in the league. Kansas City also allowed Christian Kirk to rack up 54 yards and one TD on three such receptions in its closer-than-expected win over Jacksonville back in Week 10.