Prior to Week Three's domination of the San Francisco 49ers, the Kansas City Chiefs hadn't shown enough on the offensive side of ball to be considered a legitimate contender despite the presence of dynamo running back Jamaal Charles.
In wins over AFC West rival San Diego and on the road at Cleveland, the Chiefs' offense managed only 23 points (seven of which came on a short field).
QB Matt Cassel was a clear liability in both games, passing for only 244 yards and completing an embarrassing 26 of 50 passes. KC was effective running the football, but fans were unhappy with the distribution of carries between RBs Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, demanding more touches for the latter. Chiefs WRs were non-existent, and an anonymous rookie tight end was the team's leading receiver.
WR/RB Dexter McCluster, a game-breaking player who returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown against SD, had four offensive touches and managed only 12 yards. After two weeks, it appeared KC had regressed under renowned offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.
In a 31-point drubbing of the respected San Francisco defense last Sunday, that all changed.
Cassel was accurate and efficient, passing for 250 yards and three scores. Charles accounted for 154 yards on 15 touches, and Jones had 19 bruising carries for 95 yards and his first touchdown as a Chief. WR Dwayne Bowe caught a perfectly thrown 45-yard touchdown pass off a nifty flea-flicker, and TE Tony Moeaki continued his strong play with a highlight-reel, one-handed catch in the back of the end zone.
McCluster lined up all over the field, catching three passes for 69 electrifying yards, garnering his first offensive score and serving as the ultimate decoy. OC Weis lived up to his reputation, mixing and matching different types of runs, passes, and screens to drive his offense up and down the field all game long.
While the Chiefs are far from an offensive juggernaut, their performance against the 49ers' defense showed they have the horses to be an effective, opportunistic, and exciting offensive team.
KC's calling-card this season will undoubtedly remain its stingy defense and explosive special teams play. If Cassel and company can build on Week Three's impressive showing, the Chiefs will no longer be questioned as "pretender or contender."
Rather, head coach Todd Haley's team will be taken seriously as a legitimate 2010 post-season threat, and considered the league's most promising young team. Meet the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense.