Coming into the season most thought the Chiefs would be okay and maybe contend for a wild card berth, I predicted on this site they would be 13-3 and have the best record in the AFC. 7 weeks into the season that prediction is looking as the Chiefs are 7-0 and have the best record in the NFL. KC follows a simple formula. Take care of the ball offensively, move the ball methodically, force teams into third and long, then rush the QB with a ferocious pass rush and force quarterbacks into making mistakes or holding onto the ball for sacks. Many like to call them overrated and that they’ll be exposed in the playoffs but people are in for a surprise. This Kansas City team is for real in a big way. If you have a great turnover margin, run the ball effectively and limit opposing running backs well, you’re gonna be competing to hoist the Lombardi Trophy come February.
The narrative is that it is a passing league and you need a great good passing attack and great QB to win the Super Bowl. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Last season the top 3 passing teams by yardage all missed the playoffs, in fact none of the top 3 even had a winning record. The teams in the Super Bowl were 15th and 23rd in passing in the league. The 15 to 31 spots in the league in passing yards featured 6 playoff teams, the same amount as the top 14 passing offenses in the league. The teams who averaged the top 3 passing yards in the playoffs combined to win 3 playoff games. The 6 best passing offenses to make the playoffs combined to win 4 playoff games with the Colts and Broncos winning zero combined despite being 7th and 5th in the league in passing yardage respectively. The Ravens won 4 and the Super Bowl despite a pretty average passing attack.
NFL writers and broadcasters have been giving the hard sell on the fact that you need a “franchise quarterback” to make/win a Super Bowl. This is another NFL myth that has been passed around. NFL quarterbacks to make a Super Bowl: Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Delhomme, Rex Grossman, Kerry Collins, Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, all in last 11 years with Dilfer and Johnson winning it. None of them listed were ever at any point close to an elite quarterback. Tom Brady has been outplayed by Joe Flacco in the AFC Championship Game twice, and by Mark Sanchez in the Divisional Playoffs. Often quarterbacks described as “game managers” or “mediocre” find themselves playing for a Super Bowl. The NFL has made it easier to throw in the league to help improve offensive numbers, but most times it all comes down to winning the turnover battle and running the football.
Last season 7 of the top 11 rushing teams made the playoffs, 5 of the 7 won at least 1 playoff game and 2 of them made the Super Bowl. The Ravens and 49ers were tied for 8th in turnover margin. 8 of 10 teams in the top 10 in turnover margin made the playoffs. Rush defense is the third key but turnover margin and rush offense are the two keys to winning a title.
This season passing offenses ranked 32nd, 27th, 25th, 24th, 20th are a combined 28-7, passing offenses ranked in top 7 are a combined 27-18.
Rushing offenses ranked 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, 12th are a combined 27-7.
The Chiefs in the 3 keys are excellent. They lead the NFL in turnover margin at +11. They’re 12th in rushing offense and it is improving. Their 19th ranking in rushing defense is deceiving. They’re giving up 3.9 yards per carry against starting running backs this season and if you take out LeSean McCoy’s numbers out with KC playing a road game on a short week against an offense not many had gotten a good look at yet, that number would be 3 yards per carry. The only reason they rank so low in rushing yards is because of some dynamic mobile quarterbacks they faced in Terrelle Pryor and Michael Vick. They’re excellent against the run, the big runs from quarterbacks came almost exclusively on designed throws.
The passing game will be criticized with it being ranked just 27th but that hardly tells the story. Andy Reid has been conservative on offense this year with a great defense and the wide receivers are hardly crisp route runners on downfield routes. The wideouts are at their best catching screens/crossing routes and turning them into big gains rather than beating man-to-man coverage deep down the field. Today showed this. McCluster quit on a route causing Alex Smith to throw a 4th quarter interception and Bowe didn’t fight through on a slant route almost leading to another interception. Alex Smith does a great job spreading the ball around and complements the receivers well as he’s a great short to medium route thrower. Not a great deep ball thrower, though he’s hit a couple big deep passes this season. More consistent hitting underneath receivers and balls down the middle of the field and making plays with his legs as he’s shown this season. The offensive line has had their struggles this season, that is also part of why the passing game hasn’t been as good as they can be. When a QB has to throw the ball away 4-5 times a game, you miss on some plays and it stalls some drives. As the offensive line progresses, the passing game should progress as well. Once that happens, the Chiefs will look flat out scary.
The Chiefs have the ability to greatly improve offensively and I’d expect them to do so. They have a slowly but surely improving offense and a scary pass rush to go with their playmaking secondary. This team should be looked at as not only the favorite in the AFC, but the favorite in the NFL. By the end of the regular season this team will be the most complete team in the NFL. They have the team that can give other top teams problems and make their quarterbacks highly uncomfortably. AFC teams can only hope Denver or New England grabs the 1 seed, cause going to KC and beating the Chiefs in January is an extremely tall task with a crowd as intimidating as Arrowhead Stadium.