Kansas City Chiefs: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 8

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Kansas City Chiefs: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 8
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The Kansas City Chiefs now find themselves in sole possession of the AFC West and the NFL after the Colts knocked off the Broncos in Week 7. The Chiefs' seven straight wins represent the team's hottest start since Dick Vermeil was pacing the sidelines in 2003.

Kansas City heads into Week 8—and the final game of a three-game homestand—against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have been plagued by a near-constant rebuilding cycle, injuries, suspensions and just generally poor play.

The Browns come into the game with a record of three wins and four losses, tied for second place in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens.

 

AFC West Division Standings

Team Wins Losses Points Points Against Net Points Last 5 Streak    
Kansas City Chiefs 7 0 169 81 88 5-0 W7    
Denver Broncos 6 1 298 197 101 4-1 L1    
San Diego Chargers 4 3 168 144 24 3-2 W2    
Oakland Raiders 2 4 105 132 -27 2-3 L1    

With the Broncos' Week 7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Chiefs now retain sole possession of first place in the AFC West. The Chiefs' game against the Broncos on November 17 looms very large on the schedule.

Since the inception of the Super Bowl, 31 teams have started their seasons 7-0. All of them made the playoffs. Fifteen of those 31 teams advanced all the way to the Super Bowl, and nine have won it.

 

Injury Report

While the official injury report won't be released until Wednesday, only safety Kendrick Lewis was listed as questionable prior to Kansas City's Week 7 win over the Texans, and the Chiefs didn't suffer any injuries in that game.

Here is the latest official report from the Chiefs.

NAME POSITION INJURY WED. THU. FRI. GAME STATUS
Albert, Branden T Knee/Elbow FP FP FP Probable
Allen, Jeff OL Groin/Hand FP FP FP Probable
Asamoah, Jon OL Knee FP FP FP Probable
Avery, Donnie WR Shoulder FP FP FP Probable
Brock, Kevin TE Shoulder FP FP FP Probable
Colquitt, Dustin P Right Knee FP FP FP Probable
Fasano, Anthony TE Ankle/Knee LP LP LP Probable
Flowers, Brandon CB Knee LP LP LP Probable
Howard, Jaye DT Non-Injury Related - DNP FP Probable
Lewis, Kendrick S Ankle DNP DNP LP Questionable
Moses, Dezman LB Toe FP FP FP Probable
Poe, Dontari DT Ankle FP FP FP Probable
Sherman, Anthony RB Knee FP FP FP Probable

The Browns suffered a season-ending injury to emerging quarterback Brian Hoyer but have been relatively healthy at their other positions. Here is the latest official report from the team.

NAME POSITION INJURY WED. THU. FRI. GAME STATUS
Magee, Brandon LB Oblique LP LP LP Questionable
McGahee, Willis RB Knee - DNP FP Probable
Owens, Chris DB Finger FP FP FP Probable
Sheard, Jabaal LB Knee FP FP FP Probable
Winn, Billy DL Quadriceps DNP DNP DNP Out

At this point neither team is showing any significant injuries, but I'll keep this updated throughout the week.

 

What Must Improve 

Despite the 7-0 start, there are still several areas for the Kansas City Chiefs to improve upon.

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The offensive line has struggled in pass protection consistently this season. Rookie right tackle, and No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Eric Fisher has been a huge liability thus far. Against the Texans he started showing some improvement, but the Chiefs have had to pull tight ends out of routes to supplement his protection at times.

This makes the offense lose a lot of its versatility.

Andy Reid likes to have his quarterbacks target the tight end on underneath routes, after having the receivers clear out the defenders with deep crossing routes. The offensive line must do a better, more consistent job in pass protection.

As an offensive unit, Kansas City has struggled in converting third downs.  

The Chiefs often find themselves losing the ability to sustain drives, thanks to an inability by receivers to create separation, especially on third down. The offensive line isn't exactly buying them a significant amount of time to create separation, but the receivers and the play calls need to have that in mind.

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The Chiefs need to find a way to take some of the load off of running back Jamaal Charles' shoulders. Charles leads the team in both rushing and receptions. Kansas City needs to be able to turn to one of the other backs and save Charles for the stretch run.  

The three running backs behind Charles are averaging three total carries per game. If the Chiefs can balance the load a bit, it should pay dividends when they ultimately make the playoffs.

On defense, cornerback Sean Smith has fallen back into old habits over the course of the last two games. Smith was known as a "gambler" in coverage during his time with the Miami Dolphins, a trait that ultimately had Miami parting ways with Smith.

Smith needs to learn to trust his front seven and not worry about the big play. He has great length for a defensive back—he should position himself to use it to deflect passes away and not worry about the big play.

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