Before 2021, the last team to hold its opponents to less than 10 points per game in four of five games was the 2014 Seahawks, in their third of four years leading the NFL in scoring defense — something no other team has done in the Super Bowl era.
Last Sunday, after holding the Raiders in a vise in a 48-9 beatdown, the 2021 Chiefs became the first team to accomplish that four-in-five stretch since the Legion of Boom pulled it off. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense held the Packers to seven points in Week 9, the Raiders to 14 points in Week 10, the Cowboys to nine points in Week 11, the Broncos to nine points in Week 13, and the Raiders to nine points in Week 14. Outside of the Broncos, that’s a bunch of generally high-powered offenses that turn very normal when they meet this defense.
Interestingly enough, the Chiefs’ defense bottomed out in the second half of the 2020 season, dropping from 14th to 29th in Defensive DVOA, and the uptick wasn’t nearly as significant in 2019, the team’s Super Bowl-winning season, when the defense moved from 16th to 11th. This season? The Chiefs ranked 28th in Defensive DVOA in Weeks 1-9, and only the Patriots have a better Defensive DVOA since Week 10. They’re third in Defensive DVOA behind the Patriots and Cowboys since Week 6, so this isn’t an in-season blip that can be ignored.
This is a new level of greatness for a defense that has been able to take risks because the Chiefs’ offense was so explosive. Which makes this turnaround even more impressive, because for the most part, the Chiefs’ offense has been anything but. That offense has seen a nice uptick from 11th to fourth in the second half of the 2021 season, but the second half of the season also includes a two-game stretch against the Cowboys and Broncos in which Patrick Mahomes failed to throw a touchdown pass. If the second half of the season didn’t also include a two-game roll against the Raiders in which Mahomes threw seven touchdown passes and no…