Why the Kansas City Chiefs Can Now Win the AFC West Division

Aug 16, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid enters the field before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium. San Francisco won the game 15-13. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

A few months ago the thought was juggled around but never really taken seriously.  Most experts agree the new Kansas City Chiefs would play much better than the team in 2012 that earned the first overall pick, but reaching the playoffs, much less winning the AFC West division, wasn’t taken seriously.  Things have changed.

Andy Reid and Alex Smith lead a balanced offense

How much can a new coach and a new quarterback really change a team in one season?  Well, John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco didn’t do half bad in 2008, reaching the AFC championship.  For more recent historians, how about Andrew Luck and Chuck Pagano?  The point is new things aren’t always bad things in the NFL. Kansas City has a fresh start with two veterans at the helm in head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith.  Reid comes off a disappointing end to a highly successful run with the Philadelphia Eagles that included six division titles, ten playoff victories, an NFC championship and a Super Bowl berth.  To say Reid has done all that and is only 55-years old is remarkable.  Now he has a fresh start with the Chiefs and a young roster eager to listen to him.

Smith meanwhile is eager for new beginnings as well.  After enduring so many painful hiccups with the San Francisco 49ers, he finally proved what he could do by getting the team to the 2011 NFC title game.  Last season he appeared on track for another great year, posting a record of 6-2-1 with 13 touchdowns to five interceptions.  Unfortunately an untimely concussion pushed him to the sideline, and the 49ers ushered in the Colin Kaepernick era.  Eager to prove he has what it takes, Smith takes over a talented but as yet inconsistent offense.  He should have good protection first overall pick Eric Fisher joining the offensive line, while Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe bring playmaking balance on the ground and in the air.  Smith isn’t a world beater on the stat sheet, but his track record under solid offensive coaches like Reid says he will make plays.

Tamba Hali and Sean Smith invigorate the defense

The real talk of the preseason so far is the Kansas City Chiefs defense.  Piece by piece the team has assembled a diverse group with talent at every level.  Leading the way is pass rusher Tamba Hali, coming off a season where he had nine sacks.  In the secondary sits perhaps the most underrated corner tandem in the NFL in Sean Smith and Brandon Flowers.  Smith is a free agent from the Miami Dolphins who played solid coverage for them despite not always getting the interception numbers.  Flowers meanwhile is of the same type.  He gets his hands on a lot of passes but can’t always intercept them.  Either way the two have made life miserable for the receivers they’ve played thus far in the preseason.  Throw in the surprise pass rush ability of linebacker Akeem Jordan and the guidance of star safety Eric Berry and Kansas City has good reason to feel excited about their athletic, young defense.

Yet the real story behind the new optimism rests elsewhere.  With Oakland an San Diego having their own problems still left unresolved, it was clear from the outset that the Kansas City Chiefs season would rest on catching the Denver Broncos.  Back in March that was considered impossible what with Peyton Manning and the 2012 third ranked defense up there.  In that space of time, the early AFC Super Bowl favorites saw their three best pass rushers go off the board.  Elvis Dumervil left in free agency, Von Miller was handed a lengthy six-game suspension while second-year lineman Derek Wolfe injured his neck.  Manning has a history of carrying teams with bad defenses, but at age 36 he isn’t quite that player anymore.  If ever there was a window open for the Chiefs to act, this is it.  They can, and they will.

Topics: Alex Smith, Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs, Sean Smith, Tamba Hali

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  • chiefridgy

    Go Chiefs!!!

  • John Guyer

    Hell yea, go Chiefs!!!

  • Brian Martasin

    With odds of winning the division only at +325 Vegas doesn’t consider it be a longshot. The Dolts are +1000

    • tubbs45

      What Vegas are you going to? Oak 150-1. Sd 60-1. KC 50-1 dev 15-2….I want to go with your odds, but bro those odd marker a stoned as a mother F’er!

      • Brian Martasin

        Your odds are to win the SB. My bookie has KC at 3.25/1 to win the division.

  • tubbs45

    Ummm yeah but SP95 is now in Denver… He love KC QBs…

  • Keith Strait

    When alex smith was in san fran he always had an elite defense to back him. I am sick of the “afc west is up for grabs” We say this every year as hardcore chiefs fans. Last year we were all talking about how good cassell was going to be. The truth is alex smith will never take this team to a superbowl. He cannot make accurrate throws past 10 yards nor will he attempt because harbaugh would spank him. I am tired of all the sloppy second qbs that we trade for and they all turn out to suck. I want bray to start. He would have went alot higher in the draft if he wasnt a punk. I think we will go .500 or less. Denver and san diego both have qbs who can still win if the defense is giving up points. Alex will not score 35 a game nor will we win a superbowl until he is gone.

    • Erik Lambert

      You’re kidding yourself if you think Bray is going to do anything with that team. There’s a reason he fell as far as he did, and it wasn’t just because of his attitude. He’ s got a great arm but his mechanics are sloppy, he’s not careful with the football and he’s almost completely immobile. Alex Smith isn’t the perfect quarterback, but he has talent around him. He’s proven he can win. Would you rather go sub .500 with Bray or at least make the playoffs with Smith?

      • Keith Strait

        smith will not take us there. MAYBE if the cheerleaders make a magical cheer that helps his confidence to throw the ball in tight spots. And i like a pocket passer reminds me of flacco. Im telling you that smith is not kanas cities savior the goal is not to make a wild card the last time the chiefs werr in the playoffs was the year justin bieber was born. I DWANT A SUPERBOWL and smith will NEVER EVER deliver that . why not throw bray in reid is great with working with qbs

        • Erik Lambert

          Keith, you keep bringing up Super Bowl but you can’t get there and win one without playoff experience. Bray won’t get you there this year and probably not next year even with Reid coaching him. He is a project. Why not let Smith guide the ship for a season or two? He’s not flashy but he manages a game well and knows how to win in the regular season. Wouldn’t you rather have Bray take over a playoff experienced team versus a group that is used to nothing but losing?

  • RepOurChiefs

    You forgot to mention Houston and Poe. The D is stacked..No doubt. GO CHIEFS!

  • Irony_Tag

    I have no doubt that the Chiefs will surprise some people this year, however the comments about Denver are a bit off. The Broncos loose Von Miller for only one division game, they’ll have him for the other seven. Dumervil is gone, but Shaun Phillips was picked up. His sack numbers will be slightly less but his run defense is much better.

    Tests on Derek Wolfe’s neck came back negative and he’ll be ready to start the season. As for Manning, last year was his second best statistical season ever and this year his arm is strong and he has new receiving toys in Wes Welker and Julius Thomas.

    • Erik Lambert

      True but Phillips is also 32-years old. The Chargers let him go for a reason, and don’t forget he’s playing a different defense than the one in San Diego. Miller may be out for only one division game, but a lot can happen in six games. Divisional record isn’t everything. All the Chiefs have to do is finish one game ahead of Denver and they win the race. Also, don’t discount the potential protection problems Manning could have along the interior.

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