By: Ryan Dooley
After 9 weeks of the 2013 NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs are 9-0, just as you expected. Andy Reid and Co. have been gritty, gutsy and able to win close games. Alex Smith has done what he was brought to Kansas City to do, engineer an offense without turning the ball over. Jamaal Charles is having a career year while averaging over 100 scrimmage yards per game, and the passing game has gotten a multitude of guys involved. The offense has been living in the shadow of the defense, which is currently allowing the fewest points per game in the league. The Chiefs’ pass rush has been scary this season, as they are currently leading the league with 36 sacks. Not only that, Kansas City also leads the league in turnover differential, a category that they were worst in the league in last year. If we’ve learned anything so far from the 2013 Chiefs, it’s the value of good coaching and good quarterbacks in today’s NFL. Let’s examine the Chiefs’ success so far this season.
Week 1 @ Jacksonville W 28-2
Week 2 Vs. Dallas W 17-16
Week 3 @ Philadelphia W 26-16
Week 4 Vs. New York Giants W 31-7
Week 5 @ Tennessee W 26-17
Week 6 Vs. Oakland W 24-7
Week 7 Vs. Houston W 17-16
Week 8 Vs. Cleveland W 23-17
Week 9 @ Buffalo W 23-13
Week 10 BYE
Week 11 @Denver
Week 12 Vs. San Diego
Week 13 Vs. Denver
Week 14 @ Washington
Week 15 @ Oakland
Week 16 Vs. Indianapolis
Week 17 @ San Diego
So far, the Chiefs have had a relatively easy schedule with only 1 divisional game against the Oakland Raiders. The 8 opponents they’ve faced already have a combined record of 20-41, but a win is a win in the NFL these days. There are all sorts of wacky games that go on in the NFL each and every week, and the Chiefs have been lucky not to fall victim to that wackiness. In the past 4 weeks, our offense has been lacking, and our recipe for victories has been timely defense. Of course, that has not been against some of the NFL’s best, but having a defense that knows how to close games is incredibly valuable. Some other concerns have been laid on the offense, which has been on the other end of the clutch spectrum. As of lately, they have only managed to score 19 points in the past four 4th quarters. Not to mention the offense has yet to be down at the end of a game too. That being said, I think there should be some fair skepticism of what will happen when the Chiefs need their offense to make a play to win the game. We know the defense can, however.
Keys to Success
So Kansas City currently leads the league with a +12 turnover differential, and in the process they’ve forced 20 turnovers while only have coughing up the rock a mere 8 times. There are 2 factors to take into account as to how Kansas City have been dominating in the turnover game: A) Alex Smith is playing nearly mistake free and has only had a few misfires. Yes, I know he hasn’t been the flashiest quarterback so far, but every offense needs a guy under center who doesn’t cough the ball up very often. Not to mention, his decisions are quick and the offensive line gives him decent time to make plays. B) The pass rush has tormented opposing quarterbacks, even though 3 of them have been back-ups. Pressure on the quarterback leads to turnovers, it’s almost science. Justin Houston and Tamba Hali have 11.0 and 9.0 sacks respectively and that speaks volumes to how good the Chiefs’ front seven has been. Furthermore, Dontari Poe has developed a lot from last season and has fought his way to 4.5 sacks so far. It will be interesting to see if Kansas City can keep the turnover differential like this the rest of the season.
Andy Reid’s leadership has been crucial all season. As you all know, the Chiefs have seen a rollercoaster of coaches the last two seasons, so it’s nice to see that they picked an intelligent and seasoned coach to guide the team this year. Doug Pederson isn’t shy about how confident he is in his unit, especially team’s quarterback, who he called the top quarterback in the league in the preseason. His offense has been slow, methodical, and at times unable to get things done, but they’ve been putting up enough points to win every week and they don’t fork the ball over, which is perfectly fine with us Chiefs fans. Bob Sutton was also brought in during the offseason, and is currently engineering the league’s best defense. His use of a 3-4 system fits really well with the Chiefs personnel and the pass rush has been relentless because of it. Needless to say, the coaching staff gels together nicely. Overall, Andy Reid has been the king of the Chiefs Kingdom in 2013.
Hey, everyone needs to get lucky every once in a while, right? The Chiefs have had a relatively easy schedule so far, as they’ve currently only played 1 team with a winning record. Kansas City has played 4 back-up quarterbacks so far, and the defense has bailed out the team more often than the offense has. Those 4 back-up quarterbacks have all been in close games with Kansas City, but were unable to pull out the win, which has raised some cause for concern. The Chiefs have found new ways to win week in and week out, but these recent close games with teams that the Chiefs should have easily handled makes some skeptical of the Chiefs success, including myself. Kansas City can’t let Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, or Andrew Luck(all of whom they face after the bye) hang around in these games, because they’ll pay for it if they do. Hopefully, the Chiefs’ luck continues the rest of the season.
During The Bye
Luckily, Kansas City gets their bye the week before playing at the Broncos. In the Chiefs favor, Andy Reid has an incredible record after the bye of 13-1. The man knows how to use a bye week to prepare. The Chiefs should spend a lot of time during the bye week working on the offense, which as a whole looked pretty lackluster on Sunday versus the Bills. Denver will be putting up a lot of points, and the offense is going to have to score 20+ points to keep up. Andy Reid will have his hands full during this bye week.
After The Bye
So, after this week 10 bye, a whole new season basically starts for the Chiefs. 5 out of the 6 divisional games the Chiefs will play in 2013 are after the bye, and we all know those are always tough. Not to mention, we aren’t the only team in the AFC West playing well so far this season. If you’re looking to find out what kind of team the Chiefs really are or how well they might fare in the playoffs, the remaining 7 games they have to play will be an excellent determinant. All of the remaining opponents seem to be in the playoff hunt. The Chiefs will have to buckle up, because it is still a long journey to the Lombardi trophy and the road only gets harder from here. I’m excited to see what happens!
Offensive MVP so far: Jamaal Charles
Defensive MVP so far: Tamba Hali
Breakout Player: Justin Houston
Unsung Hero: Eric Berry
Prediction for the end of the year: 13-3, Wild Card playoff berth.
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