After much construction and moving pieces throughout the franchise, the Chiefs are 8-0 and have the best record in all of football. As we pass the midway point of the 2013 season, the probable playoff picture is taking shape, with Kansas City holding an advantage over most teams.
It’s easy to pick the Chiefs as a favorite to go to the Super Bowl given their record, but when you look at the bigger picture, they are actually built like a Super Bowl team.
Their players have reached a level of comfort within the team’s system that shows in each phase of the game. They boast Pro Bowl-caliber players throughout their roster and have a tremendous coaching staff. Looking toward their final eight games, there are three important factors that will aid them in making a deep playoff run with a potential chance to win the Super Bowl.
Alex Smith, game manager
Once considered a bust, Alex Smith has turned out to be one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the NFL. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, and isn’t the most accurate quarterback, but he’s proven over the past two-and-a-half seasons that he can perform at a high level given a few solid pieces around him. More importantly, he doesn’t mess up his team’s chances of winning.
We see a lot of starting quarterbacks in this league who lose games for their team almost as often as they win them, but that hasn’t been the case for Smith in a long time.
Through eight games, he’s accumulated 1,795 yards with nine touchdown passes and four interceptions and is on pace for career highs in both yards and touchdowns. It’s a rare commodity to see Smith pass for more than 250 yards, but his ability to keep a smooth pace with the offense and not turn the ball over a lot makes him a quarterback you’d want to have on your team.
Smith is a great fit for the type of offense that Andy Reid has implemented in Kansas City, and although he doesn’t have eye-popping stats, he helps his team win games, and that’s the most important stat of them all.
Jamaal Charles’ growing legend
The Chiefs have been known to have a good runner or two in their history (i.e. Priest Holmes, Christian Okoye, Larry Johnson, etc.), and Jamaal Charles is the next up. His combination of speed and cut-on-a-dime agility makes him one of the most dangerous rushers in the league.
Charles is currently second in the NFL in rushing (635 yards) and third in the league in rushing touchdowns (six). When you take a closer look at the numbers, he’s only had one rush of 20 yards or more—meaning he’s ground out yards in chunks both big and small, which is also a testament to his reputation of being an effective three-down back.
Jamaal Charles continues to be the most important non-QB in the NFL this year. He's been so great.— nick wright (@getnickwright) October 27, 2013
On top of his ability as a runner, he is also the Chiefs' leading receiver this season with 383 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Charles is a special talent and will be extremely valuable during Kansas City’s playoff push.
“Defense wins championships”
We’ve all heard it before, and now we’re seeing a perfect example of it with the Chiefs.
The Kansas City defense is allowing just 12 points per game and has been on an absolute rampage this season. From Justin Houston to Tamba Hali and Eric Berry to Derrick Johnson, the Chiefs defense is filled to the brim with talent. Not to mention the boost the unit has gotten from second-year nose tackle Dontari Poe (24 tackles, 4.5 sacks), Kansas City's first-rounder from the 2012 draft.
As I mentioned earlier, Smith has been a definite positive for the team, but there’s no way that the Chiefs are 8-0 without this defense. Kansas City has put on an absolute clinic this season when it comes to rushing the passer, as it has four players with at last 3.5 sacks through eight games—two of which have nine sacks or more.
The Chiefs defense has been firing on all cylinders from its D-line to its secondary and could very well be why Kansas City brings home the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference*