Fast Starts, Fantastic Finishes

Having looked at the fast start the Chiefs made on Sunday night in this week’s Ridiculous Rushes and seeing how it set the tone for the whole game, let’s take a bit deeper look at just how a fast start effects the Chiefs chances of winning.

Offence

Using the gamebooks on NFL.com we can look at the stats from the opening drives for the offence since the start of last season.

Drive ResultRecordAverage pointsWin %
Score a Touchdown11-23285%
Score a Field Goal1-12750%
Punt4-33057%
Turnover1-11950%
Drive 10 plays or more10-32877%
Drive 9 plays or less7-43164%
Drive 3 and out or less3-23660%

The Chiefs win a lot of games. #Analysis.

If the opening drive results in a Touchdown, then the Chiefs won 85% of their games, averaging 32 points a game in the process. That first drive is a big indicator of how the game is likely to go. If they don’t score a Touchdown to start, then that win % drops right back to 55%.

If the opening drive results in a turnover, then the win rate dropped back to 50% but more significantly it seemed to really effect the team with the average points scored when that happened dropping right back to a mere 19 a game, which is very out of character for this team.

The length of drive didn’t appear to have a great effect on things. Going 3 and out lead to the highest average points of 36. A short drive didn’t appear to stop them putting up bunches of points over the game.

Overall summary, if the offence scores a Touchdown on that first drive then there’s a very high chance they will go on to win the game.

Defence

I’ll not lie, this shocked me.

Drive ResultRecordAverage PointsWin %
Score a Touchdown2-33340%
Score a FG0-2270%
Punt4-91831%
Turnover0-3190%
Drive 10 plays or more0-3300%
Drive 9 plays or less6-152229%
Drive 3 and out or less4-112127%

So, the best chance a team had of beating the Chiefs is to score a Touchdown on their opening drive. Even then, they only won 40% of games doing that. Fail to score a Touchdown and that drops to 22% of times the Chiefs have lost. That’s, er, not good odds.

If you turn the ball over on the opening drive, just pack your bags and go home lads. The Chiefs didn’t lose when the Defence created a turnover on the opening drive. Also, when people say you don’t beat the Chiefs by kicking Field Goals, they are absolutely correct. Chiefs had a 100% win rate when their opponents settle for 3 on the opening drive.

Want to keep the ball away from the Chiefs and keep Mahomes on the sidelines? 10+ play drive should help then? No. The Chiefs didn’t lose when their opponents opened with a 10+ play drive.

My favorite stat of all these though and a massive hat tip to Steve Spagnuolo and his team for getting the D ready to play.

The Chiefs D in the last 24 games, have forced 15 opening drives of 3 or less plays. That’s 12, 3 and outs and 3 turnovers. That seems a ridiculously high amount and shows that far more often than not, the D comes out firing right from the start.

Conclusion

If Andy has his first 15 plays lined up well, then the Chiefs chances of winning are extremely high. If Spags has the D ready to go, then the Chiefs chances of winning are extremely high.

If both offence and defence start out at a high level, it’s as good as game over.

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