Kansas City Chiefs: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 6

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Kansas City Chiefs: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 6
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The last time Kansas City started the season with five straight wins, Dick Vermiel was the Chiefs head coach.

The Kansas City Chiefs currently sit atop the AFC West, tied with the Denver Broncos at five wins and zero losses.  For the Chiefs, a 2-14 team last year that seemed in need of a rebuild, being at this mark would seem unfamiliar territory.  The last time Kansas City won its first five games, Dick Vermeil was at the helm and the war in Iraq was in its ninth month.

A decade and no less than three head coaches have come and gone since the Chiefs were battling a Peyton Manning team for supremacy in the AFC, and yet the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Though there are differences, to be sure.

The Chiefs of 2003 were led by a high-flying offense carrying one of the worst defenses in football.  The Chiefs of 2013 are led by the stingiest defense in football and an offense that, well, has potential.  Peyton Manning also grew up and moved on from the Colts to the Broncos, a symmetry not lost on me.

Kansas City's Week 6 opponent, the Oakland Raiders, is a hated, nay the all-time hated rival of the Chiefs.

There's an enmity between these teams that stretches back to well before Bo Jackson was calling Kansas City his home all summer with the Kansas City Royals, then returning in the fall in silver and black to Arrowhead and leading the Raiders against the Chiefs.

This Raiders team, however, has a new identity.  Once the league pariah, the team itself overshadowed by its one-of-a-kind owner the late Al Davis, this Oakland team is different.  Led by the enigmatic and supremely athletic Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders are showing signs of life after few had been seen since Jon Gruden left town.

 

Standings 

Team Wins Losses Points For Points Against Net Points Streak
Denver Broncos 5 0 230 139 91 W5
Kansas City Chiefs 5 0 128 58 70 W5
Oakland Raiders 2 3 98 108 -10 W1
San Diego Chargers 2 3 125 129 -4 L1

 

The AFC West has a tie at the top between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos.  While the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are tied in the basement, after their game in Week 5, it feels like the two teams are going in opposite directions.

The Raiders beat the Chargers 27-17 in a game that wasn't as close as the score might indicate.  Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor seems to finally be coming into his own as a passer, something many weren't sure would ever happen.

The Raiders will be seeking to move up to .500, while the Chiefs will be looking for their sixth straight win.

 

Injury Report

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Defensive backs Kendrick Lewis and Brandon Flowers played through injuries against the Titans in Week 5.  Look for them to be active and play against the Raiders this week, barring setbacks.

Tight ends Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano continue to deal with knee injuries and are thus far considered unlikely to play.

For Kansas City, the biggest question marks will be rookie right tackle Eric Fisher, who was concussed in Week 4 against the New York Giants, and wide receiver Donnie Avery, who injured his shoulder against the Tennessee Titans in Week 5.

For Oakland, quarterback Terrelle Pryor bounced back from a concussion of his own to have a great game against the San Diego Chargers in Week 5.  He looks to be fine going forward.

Running back Darren McFadden is having lingering hamstring issues, and safety Tyvon Branch is nursing an ankle injury.

 

What Must Improve

The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled with run contain at times this season.

While the Chiefs have often gotten out to early leads and forced opponents into passing situations, when opponents have run, they have been fairly successful.

Kansas City is currently tied for the second most runs of 20-plus yards allowed in the league with six.  The Chiefs trail only the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have allowed nine runs of 20 yards or more.

With the dangerous Terrelle Pryor in Week 6, Kansas City must remember to stick to the fundamentals in run contain.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Offensive efficiency is another must-improve area for the Chiefs.  It's become such an issue that head coach Andy Reid is being vocal about it, per Herbie Teope of Chiefs Spin.  

The Chiefs have been mediocre on third down all season, culminating in a 1-of-12 showing against the Titans in Week 5.  Kansas City had four attempts at the red zone in Week 5 and came away with a single touchdown.

Kansas City can't afford to leave points on the field.  Relying on the defense and special teams to score 19 of your 26 points isn't sustainable long-term, and the Chiefs' defense and special teams are accounting for a greater percentage of their total points than the 2002 Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Offensive line play is another "must improve" area for the Chiefs, specifically in pass protection.

Kansas City has surrendered 13 sacks of quarterback Alex Smith, a number that places the Chiefs in the bottom third of the league in sacks surrendered.  That number would be higher if it weren't for the athleticism of quarterback Alex Smith.

If the Chiefs can continue to establish the offense while playing their field-position game and solid defense, they should have no trouble handling the Raiders in Week 6.

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