It’s lonely at the top –unless you have an entire team up there with you. Enter the Kansas City Chiefs, so far removed from their 2-14 record last season that the league barely recognizes them. Coach Andy Reid, quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles and the entire cast of red-wearing Chiefs are sitting at No. 1 atop their division and the only undefeated team of the NFL 2013 season going into Week 8.
In an atmosphere of passing teams, the Chiefs are winning on the strength of their defense and Alex Smith’s careful line of scrimmage management. KC’s defense leads the league in scoring going into Week 7. Smith’s record as a starter stands at 26-5-1 since 2011. The Chiefs also lead the league in sacks with 35, and hold a +11 turnover ratio. Overall, Smith has completed 145 of 250 passes for 1570 yards, seven touchdowns and only four interceptions. He’s lost only 95 yards on 18 sacks.
On Sunday, the Chiefs faced the struggling Houston Texans, starting Case Keenum in place of injured first string quarterback Matt Schaub. Case holds NCAA FSB records from his time in college, and got his first start on the road against an undefeated team with the loudest fans in an open stadium. In his debut, Keenum threw for 271 yards and a touchdown. He completed 15 of 25 passes and was sacked five times for a 50 yard loss. He comes out of his first NFL game with a 110.6 passer rating.
It was a hard-fought battle, as Houston’s defense with J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing have been active and made their presence felt week after week. For KC, Tamba Hali contributed a strip on Keenum at Houston’s 2-yard line, which was recovered by Derrick Johnson for the Chiefs.
Offensively, the Chiefs are not the highest scoring team, but they have managed a happy medium that has led them to victory seven times. Some indicate KC’s success comes in part due to the caliber of the teams they have faced. One can argue that point of course but that does not take into account the dramatic reversal of fortune the team has seen overall this year.
In order, the Chiefs have played and beaten the Jaguars (28-2) Cowboys (17-16), Eagles (26-16), Giants (31-7), Raiders (24-7), and Texans (17-16). Granted, none of these teams is performing at the top of the league. The scores themselves indicate the battles the Chiefs have fought this year. In some cases, they were able to run away with the game. In others it was a war from beginning to end.
In Week 8, they play the Cleveland Browns (3-4) at home, and then go on the road in Week 9 to play the Buffalo Bills (3-4) before a bye in Week 10. After the bye, KC will face the Denver Broncos (6-1) on the road. Any team at any time can end the Chiefs winning streak, as the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos have learned in recent weeks. No matter how good you are, there is always a chance that someone somewhere at some time will be better. Going into week 8, the Kansas City Chiefs are at the top of the NFL, and with all the tools they have in place, chances are very high they will stay there for quite some time.
Written by: Brandi Tasby