At 4-0, the Kansas City Chiefs are currently the darlings of the NFL. A trendy pick to be a playoff team prior to the 2013 regular season, the Chiefs are certainly making those prognosticators look like geniuses right about now, but what do we really know about the Chiefs? After taking a closer look, a playoff spot seems like a sure bet, but as far as Kansas City being Super Bowl contenders, we need to see more before we can make that claim.
How well did 2012 go for the Chiefs? Well, they had the 1st pick in the 2013 draft, so the answer is “not so good.” As is the case with teams that go 2-14, Kansas City fired head coach Romeo Crennel and replaced him with long-time Philadelphia Eagles’ head man Andy Reid. Next, the Chiefs got themselves a quarterback in former San Francisco 49er Alex Smith, saying good-bye to Matt Cassel. Combine those two moves with a roster that already included the likes of Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry, and it’s easy to see why the aforementioned experts chose the Chiefs as a dark horse to make the 2013 “tournament.”
Now that Kansas City is 4-0 and find themselves on top of the AFC West with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the question is: are the Chiefs a Super Bowl contender? Stranger things have happened, but after 4 weeks I need to see more from them. So far, they have beaten the worst team in the league in the Jacksonville Jaguars, and 3 NFC East teams, the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants who have a combined 3 wins between them. What they have going for them is an offense that has only turned the ball over 3 times (all 3 were committed today against the Giants) and can control the clock as they are currently 2nd in the league in that category. Defensively, they can get after the quarterback and are 7th in overall defense.
All of the above statistics are certainly indicative of a team that will win their fair share of games this year, however, they have the misfortune of being in the same division as Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Sure, the Chiefs can control the clock, but can they score 42 points? Until Alex Smith shows that he can throw the ball down the field consistently, I just don’t see how they can compete with the likes of teams like the Broncos who can put points on the board, and in a hurry. Defensively, can they pressure Manning enough to force him into mistakes? With Denver left tackle Ryan Clady out for the season, it will certainly help, but Manning is so good at reading defenses pre-snap that he rarely seems to be hurried during the course of a game.
One of the reasons why the NFL is such a great game is that all it takes to pull off an upset is to win one game, as opposed to other sports where you have to win a best-of-seven series. No one gave the Jets a chance to win Super Bowl III, or the Giants a shot to beat the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, so you never know what will happen, but after 4 games, the Chiefs have some work to do if they want to finish ahead of Denver.