Kansas City Chiefs: 8 Reasons Why Kansas City Can Still Win the AFC West

Bill Robbins@bill_kc28Correspondent IOctober 12, 2011

Kansas City Chiefs: 8 Reasons Why Kansas City Can Still Win the AFC West

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    Coming into the '11 NFL season, many tabbed the Kansas City Chiefs as a team that would not repeat as division champions.

    After losing stars Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles to injury in the first two weeks of the season and getting beat in their first three games, KC appeared to be in for a long season.

    Since Week Three, the Chiefs have won their last two contests and currently sit just two games out of first in the division with 11 games left in the season.

    Here are eight reasons why this team can still win the AFC West.

The Tambahawk

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    KC linebacker Tamba Hali has already proven that he is one of the best sack-masters playing in the league today.

    Last year, he notched 14.5 QB sacks, while making his first Pro Bowl of his career.

    This season, he has already picked up four sacks, while producing many quarterback hurries and pressures, as well.

    With Eric Berry out for the season, Hali is the heart and soul of the Chiefs' defense and he has the ability to take over games on the defensive side of the ball.

RB Jackie Battle's Emergence

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    Fourth-year RB Jackie Battle had a career game against the Colts last week in his debut as the team's featured back.

    He had 19 carries for 119 yards, while breaking off several long runs in the process.

    With Pro-Bowl RB Jamaal Charles out for the year and backups Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster struggling, the timing couldn't be any better for Battle to breakout.

    If he can continue to play at a high level each week, this Chiefs offense could be a tough unit to deal with for the remainder of the season.

QB Matt Cassel Is Getting More Comfortable Each Week

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    The Chiefs' main signal caller has improved greatly as the '11 season has progressed.

    After starting out the season with three TDs and five INTs through his first three games, he has thrown five touchdown passes and no picks in his last two game combined.

    Many thought that Cassel would completely regress when Charlie Weis left the team after last season.

    Although this may have been true at the very beginning of this season, it's evident that the former USC backup is looking more and more like the QB that led his team to a division title a season ago.

WR Dwayne Bowe Is Playing the Best Football of His Career

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    KC wideout Dwayne Bowe has been nearly unstoppable so far this season.

    Through five games, he already has 23 receptions for 420 yards and four TDs, including three games of 100+ receiving yards.

    The former first-round draft pick of the Chiefs seems to be getting better and better under head coach Todd Haley's offensive system.

    If D-Bowe keeps playing like this, it will be hard for any defense to slow him down.

Steve Breaston Has Stepped Up as the No. 2 Receiver

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    Before the season even began, many around Kansas City were already talking about the Killer B's that the team had at the wide receiver position.

    I am, of course, referring to veterans Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and rookie Jonathan Baldwin.

    After a quiet start, Breaston has been on fire in the last two games, catching eight passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns combined.

    I look for him to only get better in this offense, as he continues to gel more with his quarterback Matt Cassel.

Rookie WR Jonathan Baldwin Should Be Playing Soon

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    When the Chiefs selected former University of Pittsburgh wideout Jonathan Baldwin with the 26th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, they were hoping to get immediate impact at a position of need.

    Unfortunately, that has yet to happen as Baldwin hasn't seen the field through the first five games due to a locker room altercation with teammate Thomas Jones back in August.

    However, Baldwin was a full participant in practice for most of last week and all signs point to him playing in the team's next game against Oakland on October 23rd.

    Adding Baldwin to the mix should instantly improve the offense and gives Cassel another big target downfield.

The Defensive Line Is Showing Signs of Life

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    One of the biggest weaknesses of the team over the past few seasons has been their defensive line.

    Although it is not a strength yet, this year's Chiefs' D-line seems to be improving each week.

    Former first-round picks Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey have both looked good at times and journeyman defensive end Amon Gordon has filled in nicely on the line, as well.

    The overall play of KC's defensive front-line will need to keep getting better if this team is going to repeat as AFC West champions.

The AFC West Is Still One of the Weaker Divisions in the League

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    Last season, the Chiefs won the AFC West with a 10-6 overall record.

    This season, they are just 2-3, and are only a couple games behind first-place San Diego in the division.

    The 4-1 Chargers have barely won many of their games, while the Broncos and Raiders don't appear to be much better than last season through the first five weeks.

    The division seems to be wide open again, and this bodes well for the Chiefs  this season.