New Coach, QB Pay Off for KC
Published: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 01:10
Many NFL teams hit the halfway point in their seasons this past week, and it is safe to say that there are plenty of fascinating storylines developing. Many conventional predictions have held up so far, albeit in remarkable fashion; the Jaguars are not just bad but historically bad, the battle for supremacy in the NFC West has been more tumultuous than anticipated due to the 49ers’ meteoric performance swings from week to week and although everyone expected Andrew Luck and the Colts to be good, no one expected them to rise to the level of the elites so soon. There have been plenty of shocks as well — namely the stunning collapses of the Giants and the Falcons in the NFC and the perennial powerhouses the Steelers and the Ravens in the AFC North. However, no story compares to the unprecedented emergence of the Kansas City Chiefs.
With Peyton Manning back to form after his season-ending neck surgery, and a new weapon in Wes Welker, most expected the Denver Broncos to improve upon their 13-3 2012 season and emerge as favorites to take home the Super Bowl. If anything, the Broncos have exceeded expectations, and yet, with half the season gone and only one loss on record, Denver finds itself looking up at a team that went 2-14 a year ago. Although Andy Reid was unceremoniously ushered out of Philly after a disastrous 2012 campaign, optimists felt that a change of scenery would energize his still brilliant offensive mind, and help him gather enough momentum to effectively rebuild the franchise over the next few seasons. The addition of Alex Smith — an efficient and proven winner who was cast aside by the 49ers in favor of a talented youngster with more physical tools — only provided more support to the possibility that the Chiefs could flirt with a .500 season.
But overlooked in the huge offseason additions of Reid and Smith was the fact that the team had talented players on both sides of the ball that could make the season something more than a rebuilding year. Jamaal Charles is one of the NFL’s best running backs, Dwayne Bowe anchored a strong receiving corps even before the addition of Donnie Avery and — when healthy — the defense was brimming with talents such as Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers and Justin Houston. When you send six players to the Pro Bowl and finish 2-14, talent is not the issue; the Chiefs had two big holes at quarterback and head coach, and they filled them both tremendously this offseason. The rebuilding process came and went in an instant, and with new energy and a couple of wins, belief has galvanized the latent talent in Kansas City into the last unbeaten team standing and a true championship contender.
Doubters will point out that the Chiefs’ path to 8-0 has featured a rather weak gallery of opponents (a combined record of 20-41 including the eight losses to the Chiefs), and it is true that the road will only get tougher with multiple showdowns with the Chargers and the Broncos to come. Naysayers will also undoubtedly bring up the close calls the Chiefs have already experienced along the way, including the last two weeks against middling teams without their starting quarterbacks. There is a valid argument to be made that the Chiefs are far from perfect and sooner or later luck is going to go against them, but that is beside the point. This is not a team built to win games with style, and they certainly will lose a few games along the way to the playoffs. What the Chiefs do have, however, are all of the ingredients to succeed in the postseason. They have a defense that will keep them in every game, an efficient offense that rarely turns the ball over and controls the clock and they have the type of invaluable experience in tight games that most of the Super Bowl favorites haven’t experienced this season.
There is still a lot of football to be played and a lot of time for Kansas City to come back down to earth, but when you look at the way they’ve been winning games it’s hard to picture any team dispatching the Chiefs without having to scrap and battle to the very end. For now, we can all still plausibly dream of this small-market franchise — galvanized from the very bottom of the NFL ranks by the arrival of two discarded former winners — battling it out on Super Bowl Sunday in the biggest game in American professional sports. There have been a lot of compelling Super Bowl storylines over the past decade or so, but a literal worst-to-first run would undoubtedly rank among the best of them.
Darius Majd is a junior in the College. The Sporting life appears every Tuesday.