I know I can be a little overzealous when it comes to rooting on the Royals, the Chiefs and Sporting KC. I am an eternal optimist and believe every year is THE YEAR we win a championship. And every year I’m disappointed. But 2013 has been good to Kansas City so far. The Royals are in the thick of the Wild Card Chase (something I predicted back in April when the season began), and now the Chiefs are 3-0, one of the few remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL.
And so right now, I declare, the Kansas City Chiefs will play in the Super Bowl.
Come on! some of you might say. Be real! The Chiefs were the worst team in the league last year! There’s no way they make it to the Super Bowl this year.
Go ahead. Doubt. I know it’s early in the season, but I believe this team has the tools and the talent to win in January. Here’s why:
It’s been a long time since the Chiefs have had a defense this dominant. We’ve had great defensive players on occasion, but never four Pro Bowlers in their prime playing at the same time. Eric Berry. Derrick Johnson. Tamba Hali. Justin Houston. Add to that the emergence of Dontari Poe on the defensive line and the lockdown coverage of corners Brandon Flowers and Shaun Smith, and the talent is there to keep opponents out of the end zone.
Our defense is tops in the NFL right now in takeaways and added five more turnovers against the Eagles. Fumble recoveries and interceptions kill the other team’s momentum and keeps their offense off the field, giving you more opportunities to score. Not only that, but our offense is holding on to the ball. Former Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell led the NFL is turnovers last year. This year, Alex Smith has zero. That’s right, in three games Alex Smith has not turned the ball over. And now the Chiefs are 3-0. Taking care of the ball is the difference. As long as the Chiefs offense continues to hold on to it, they will continue to win as their opportunistic defense keeps taking it away from the other team.
How predictable was the offense last year? Run, run, pass, punt. Next series: run, run, pass, punt. Three and out. Three and out. This year with the spread offense, the play calling is not as predictable. Yes, it seems like Andy Reid likes to pass the ball. And he definitely favors shot passes to the tight end and the running backs. But in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys and Eagles games, when the Chiefs had to maintain possession and run out the clock, KC ran it down the other team’s throat. They moved it at will. After wearing down the other team with the pass, they then punched them in the gut with the run and kept moving the chains down the field. Not only is the play calling much better now but the defense is blitzing more than ever, causing havoc. The players aren’t making the same bone-headed mistakes they made in years past. They are more disciplined, playing their responsibility and making great plays. These coaches have been the main reason why.
4) Jamaal Charles
Is there any other running back you’d rather have on your team? Sure, Adrian Peterson is a stud and LeSean McCoy ran wild on the Chiefs defense, but Charles can do it all. He can catch the ball (most the time). He can run in between the tackles. He can stretch the defense. And in the open field, no one can catch him. He is the spark plug that gets this offense humming, and his play making ability and dependability when the game is on the line will help the Chiefs finish the season strong.
My prediction? 12-4 and a trip to the Super Bowl.
I do have two worries: our offensive line and conservative passing game. Eric Fisher and Brandon Albert really struggled against the Eagles. Smith is being pressured too often. It’s nice to see he can run and gain a few yards on a scramble, but I’d rather see him zip a pass to Donnie Avery or Dwayne Bowe. Okay, so it’d be nice to see Smith stretch the field with his throws a bit. Throw it deep so the corners play honest. I agree. But it is what it is, and Smith is a really good decision maker with average arm strength. Throwing deep is not his strong suit, and as we have found, these coaches play to their players strengths. Thank goodness! In years past, it felt like the scene in Apollo 13 when they try to figure out how to get the circle in the box. Why have your players do what they can’t do when you can instead scheme to their strengths and put them in a position to succeed? If only every manager was like that.
In conclusion, the Chiefs are the feel good story of 2013. They have the talent, the tools and the coaches to get them to the Super Bowl. Can they win it? Once you’re there, anything can happen. As long as they keep playing the way they are, I don’t see how they won’t make a deep run into the postseason and bring home their second Lombardi Trophy.
You can reach Matt Stewart at email@example.com.