The Kansas City Chiefs are the best story in the National Football League so far in 2013.
Undefeated. Coming off 2-14. New coach. New quarterback. Fans desperate to get on the bandwagon.
What’s not to like?
But being the best story in the NFL can also mean being the over-analyzed team in the NFL. And the Chiefs are certainly that.
Coming off 2-14 to go 9-0 doesn’t jibe. Sports fans don’t know what to make of that. We hardly ever see anything like it in baseball or basketball. Or anywhere, really. So we scratch our heads and wonder if what we’re seeing is a true reflection of a team’s strength.
In other words: Are the Chiefs for real?
Well, 9-0 doesn’t lie. And if you want to make it all about Kansas City’s sub-par schedule, then join the club. That’s the ammunition a lot of folks are firing to shoot holes in the Chiefs’ incredible start and status as the NFL’s only unbeaten team.
Kansas City’s defense has been at times dominant and at other times opportunistic. The two often go hand in hand. The Chiefs have bent but rarely broke. They’re only 20th in the NFL in yards allowed but first in points allowed. And isn’t points allowed the statistic that matters most.
To hear some pundits talk, Kansas City’s offense is being led by three mules pulling a plow. But the numbers show differently. The Chiefs rank No. 15 in total yards and are 16th in points scored. Yes, some of those points have been scored by the defense. But any offense that has running back Jamaal Charles shouldn’t be dismissed as lumbering or plodding.
Is Alex Smith the best quarterback in the NFL? No. But he’s 28-5-1 over his past 34 games. That has to mean something. It’s a better record than Tom Brady (27-7), Aaron Rodgers (25-9), Peyton Manning (25-9) or Drew Brees (22-12) has over their past 34 games.
And correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t those four quarterbacks considered the best in the game?
Smith lacks weapons. Dwayne Bowe is a perpetual disappointment and Donnie Avery is banged up. Kansas City’s tight ends are average and Dexter McCluster is a hit and miss threat out of the backfield.
Yet Smith perseveres. Everyone keeps waiting for him to devolve into Matt Cassel, but he’s a better quarterback than Cassel. He throws better, definitely runs better and has outstanding leadership skills.
Smith is also playing with a chip on his shoulder after being tossed aside for a sexier, faster quarterback (Colin Kaepernick) in San Francisco. That gives Smith an edge he lacked earlier in his career, when he was considered a tremendous bust after being the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005.
And then there’s Andy Reid, a proven winner in Philadelphia who also is coaching with an edge after some so-so seasons. Reid has been the right guy at the right time for the Chiefs. He’s great at putting together a total team and the Chiefs reflect that. They had a bunch of Pro Bowlers last season and went 2-14. They might not have as many headed to Hawaii this season, but are 9-0.
Finally, what about the schedule? Yes, it’s been weak. Kansas City has played only one team – Dallas – that currently has a winning record. And we know the Cowboys are capable of being thrown from their horses at any moment.
The Chiefs, though, had nothing to do with this schedule. It just as easily could have been a juggernaut schedule, except that the NFC East and NFC South have been horrible. The Chiefs have capitalized on that horribleness.
In two weeks, Kansas City plays at 7-1 Denver. The Broncos have to past a game this weekend at San Diego to put the final bright light on this AFC West showdown.
Denver, as we have seen, scores points in excess. But the Broncos have difficult stopping anyone with a porous defense.
Kansas City is a more well-rounded team, but that might not mean much at Denver. The Broncos will be ready, especially if they knock off San Diego.
It’s the most anticipated game of the NFL season and one that undoubtedly is making Chiefs fans nervous. Because, let’s face it, nobody is quite sure what we have here.
Thanks to a tougher schedule after the bye week, Kansas City could drop quite a few games the rest of the way. Or the Chiefs could continue to pile up wins and prove to everyone that, weak schedule or not, this is a power team capable of winning a Super Bowl.
Nine games, nine wins.
What will happen in the final seven? I don’t know, but I’m intrigued to find out.