If I were to tell you Anthony Sherman and Joe McKnight have three more receiving touchdowns than the Kansas City Chiefs’ collection of wide receivers, what would you guess the Chiefs’ record to be after 10 games?
If I were to tell you that Sherman and McKnight, with three touchdown receptions, have three more than the collection of Kansas City wideouts, what would you guess the team’s record to be?
It’s been a crazy season in Kansas City, where the Chiefs are humming along at 7-3, have won five in a row and seven of their past eight.
This is a team that ranks 31st among the 32 NFL teams in passing yards, 24th in rush defense, is tied for 22nd in takeaways/giveaways and has not one receiver who can beat an opposing defense down the field.
Yet the Chiefs are finding a way. Even better, I think they’re a legitimate threat to make it to the Super Bowl. Which begs the question: Can the fine folks of Kansas City withstand a year in which the Royals and Chiefs both make it to the biggest stage of their collective sports?
Kansas City’s 26-10 loss in Week 1 to the Tennessee Titans seems like a very distant memory now. There were so many signs of trouble in that game and with a tough early-season schedule, I think more than a few wrote off the Chiefs.
They were 2-3 after a hard-fought loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 5, just a week after the Chiefs plastered New England, 41-14, on Monday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs’ season turned around, I believe, with a 23-20 win at San Diego the following week. The Chargers were 5-1 at the time and quarterback Philip Rivers was seen as an MVP candidate. The loss sent San Diego and Rivers into a tailspin and had the opposite effect on the Chiefs.
For all their issues, Kansas City’s defense has been great, leading the NFL against the pass. This is still a pass-happy league, remember, and the Chiefs are holding opponents to just 201.6 yards per game.
That has helped boil down a lot of KC games to which team runs better. And while the Chiefs are giving up 124.4 yards per game on the ground, just 24th in the NFL, they are fourth in rushing offense with 141.2 yards per game.
So while Kansas City ranks just 24th in total offense, it’s a misleading number because of how well the Chiefs run the football, control the clock and ride the great Jamaal Charles, whose eight rushing touchdowns rank second behind Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, who has nine.
It’s hard to score touchdowns on the ground in the NFL. In fact, the Chiefs have yet to allow a rushing TD this season.
Charles and Knile Davis, though, have combined for 13 rushing TDs. The Chiefs are playing some smash mouth football and it’s fitting them perfectly.
They’ve been able to flourish even though wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is yet to catch a touchdown pass. Bowe ranks 45th among NFL receivers in yards; the next best Chiefs wide receiver, Donnie Avery, ranks 156th.
Crazy. You’re not supposed to be able to win without speedy wide receivers who stretch the field and a quarterback with a cannon for an arm.
Credit Andy Reid for finding other ways. He’s reined in the offense and emphasized a pass rush. The Chiefs’ 30 sacks are tied for third most in the NFL.
Tight end Travis Kelce has become a favorite target of quarterback Alex Smith and leads the Chiefs with four touchdown receptions.
Outside of Charles, who was so good in last Sunday’s 24-20 win over Seattle with 159 yards and two touchdowns, nobody is jumping to pick Kansas City offensive players for their fantasy leagues. Charles provides the spice to an otherwise meat-and-potatoes offense.
But it’s working. The Chiefs are averaging 24.1 points by hook or by crook and find themselves tied with Denver atop the AFC West going into tonight’s game at Oakland.
I know a lot of Chiefs fans are worried about this one against the winless Raiders. They view it as a trap game with a showdown against Denver coming next Sunday in Kansas City. KC still has difficult road games remaining against Arizona and Pittsburgh.
But why not the Chiefs?
The AFC looks wide open, although it appears the Chiefs awoke a sleeping monster in New England with that 27-point thrashing last month. The Patriots have been doing all the thrashing since with six straight wins in which they’ve averaged 40.5 points per game.
Twelve of the 16 teams in the AFC still have a chance to reach the playoffs (I’m loosely including 5-5 Buffalo and Houston).
Right now, my AFC power rankings look like this:
1. New England
3. Kansas City
9. San Diego
That’s a tightly-bunched group. Would it shock anyone if the Ravens reached the Super Bowl?
I like what the Chiefs are doing. They know who they are and have a coach who won’t deviate from that.