NFL News & Analysis

Patrick Mahomes-Travis Kelce connection enables Chiefs offense to remain elite

Inglewood, California, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates with quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) after scoring on a 17-yard touchdown reception with 31 seconds left against the Los Angeles Chargers SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • Kansas City Chiefs offense thriving without Tyreek Hill: Even without the star receiver, the Chiefs offense has continued to thrive due to Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.
  • Kelce back to his dominant ways: After a slightly down year in 2021, Kelce is PFF's highest-graded tight end by 10.0-plus points thus far in 2022.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The Kansas City Chiefs offense is once again playing at a historical level. They lead the NFL with 0.141 EPA per play, which is more than double the second-place Philadelphia Eagles. Furthermore, the gap between the Chiefs and the Eagles is the same size as the gap between the second-place Eagles and the 15th-place Atlanta Falcons. This is not what many expected when the Chiefs traded star wide receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami, especially with none of his replacements playing exceptionally well. No Chiefs wide receiver ranks top 30 in PFF receiving grade, top 25 in yards per route run, or top 20 in receiving yards among receivers.

So how does the Chiefs offense remain still so efficient and effective? The answer is, once again. the elite connection between Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.

After setting an NFL record among tight ends with 1,416 receiving yards in 2020, Kelce had a somewhat down year by his standards. While he still earned an 84.0 PFF grade, he ranked just 32nd in yards per route run (1.84), which was only the second time in his entire career that he failed to earn 2.0 yards per route run across a season. Furthermore, quarterbacks targeting him had a 103.4 passer rating, which was the lowest figure of his career. Many expected a down year for the Chiefs offense not only just due to Hill leaving but also because 2021 seemed to be the beginning of a decline in Kelce's performance, as turned 33 years old during the 2022 season.

However, Kelce is back to his best in 2022, which is a huge reason why the Chiefs offense has been so efficient. Versatility has always been one of Kelce's strengths, as he could line up wide, in the slot or as an inline tight end. Currently, he is on pace to play his fewest snaps as an inline tight end in a season while making the best out of his opportunities playing in the slot. Kelce ranks fourth with a 90.9 PFF receiving grade and tied for first in first downs when he lines up in the slot.

Overall, the former Cincinnati Bearcat leads all tight ends and has the third-highest PFF receiving grade among all players (91.6). In addition, he's generated a 131.6 passer rating when targeted, which leads all players this season. As a result, his yards per route run figure once again rose above 2.0, as he ranks top 15 in the entire league and leads all tight ends with 2.24 yards per route run in his 10th NFL season.

This season has shown that weapons can leave and the offense can change, but as long as Mahomes has Kelce, the Chiefs offense will be able to play at a very high level. Furthermore, Kelce deserves to be mentioned in the race for the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year award.

Stop punting on life insurance. Get your free quote. Fabric by Gerber Life.

NFL Featured Tools


Unlock all tools and content including Player Grades, Fantasy, NFL Draft, Premium Stats, Greenline and DFS.

$9.99 / mo
$79.99 / yr