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The Opposing View: An Insider's Look At The Seahawks' Week 16 Opponent, The Kansas City Chiefs

Five questions from; five answers from senior reporter Matt McMullen.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) hands the ball off to running back Jerick McKinnon (1) during the first half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) hands the ball off to running back Jerick McKinnon (1) during the first half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The Seahawks travel to Kansas City this week to face the AFC West champs in a battle featuring a pair of Pro-Bowl quarterbacks in Geno Smith and Patrick Mahomes. To get ready for this week's game and learn more about this weekend's opponent, we reached out to senior reporter Matt McMullen with five questions about the Kansas City Chiefs.

At 11-3, the Chiefs are once again AFC West champs, but have had a lot of close wins, including in overtime against the 1-win Texans on Sunday. Is there any concern about how they're winning games, or is it just a classic case of style points not mattering in the standings?

McMullen: The Chiefs have pulled out a nail-biter in each of the last two weeks, but fortunately for Kansas City, the reasons behind those close games – turnovers and penalties – are correctable. The Chiefs lead the NFL in points-per-game (29.6), net yards-per-game (429.4), third-down conversion rate (51.2%), plays of 10+ yards (224) and total first downs (351) among numerous other offensive categories, so they've been able to overcome those self-inflicted wounds of late, but minimizing the mistakes is certainly an emphasis area as we approach the postseason. Regardless, the Chiefs' point differential of 92 (which ranks second in the AFC behind only Buffalo) indicates that those recent close games have been more of an outlier than the norm.

The Chiefs have committed five turnovers in the last two games and multiple turnovers in four of the last six; obviously they keep winning games, but how big of a concern is ball security for Kansas City?

McMullen: It's absolutely an area of emphasis right now as the Chiefs prepare for the playoffs, especially considering that many of Kansas City's giveaways of late have taken place on otherwise productive drives. Additionally, the Chiefs' 76 points allowed following giveaways this season are the third-most in the NFL. It's all to say that if Kansas City can minimize the turnovers, the Chiefs' prolific offense – and the overall scoring margin in general – should only improve.

Sounds like we're in for a cold one on Saturday. Most people think Mahomes and a prolific passing attack when they think of the Chiefs, but how is that offense equipped if extreme weather makes it tougher to operate, or do they just play their style of game no matter the conditions?

McMullen: The Chiefs are always going to throw the ball, and Mahomes is having another stellar season as the league-leader in passing yards and touchdowns, but Kansas City has been running the football really well lately. The duo of rookie Isiah Pacheco and veteran Jerick McKinnon has helped the Chiefs rack up the eighth-most rushing yards in the NFL since Week 10, and in last week's matchup against Houston, Kansas City tallied 189 yards on the ground. Pacheco, in particular, has rushed for at least 60 yards in six-straight games. I expect the running game to be a factor once again in this one, especially considering the forecast.

Other than the obvious big names, what player/players could you see being a potential X-factor for the Chiefs in this one?

McMullen: The aforementioned Pacheco is one answer, as he ranks second in the NFL in rushing (480) since Week 10. His ability to run through contact has added another dimension to the Chiefs' offense over the last several weeks. McKinnon is certainly a guy to watch, too. He has been immensely productive in the screen game for the Chiefs this season, recording a career-high 429 receiving yards and five touchdowns. His 182 receiving yards leads all running backs over the last two weeks, and he ranks fifth among all players in yards after the catch this season. Guys such as tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling are the primary weapons in the passing game, but McKinnon has established himself as a real weapon on this team.

What matchup or matchups are you most looking forward to seeing play out on Saturday?

McMullen: I'm excited to watch the battle between the Chiefs' young secondary and DK Metcalf. Kansas City features a very talented, but youthful, group of defensive backs who have grown a lot over the course of the season. There have of course been teaching moments along the way, but facing a receiver of Metcalf's caliber is a real opportunity for the likes of rookie cornerbacks Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson. I'm excited to see how they handle it.

Four Seahawks were named to the 2023 Pro Bowl roster today: safety Quandre Diggs (starter), kicker Jason Myers (starter), quarterback Geno Smith, and cornerback Tariq Woolen. Take a look at photos of the Pro Bowlers from throughout the 2022 season.

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