The Chiefs are Still Perfect, but Questions Persist
By Eric Paolini
In regards to the Kansas City Chiefs, I have a question whose answer stumps me. I think I may know the answer, but I really don't know. There are a bunch of teams that have question marks this year. Is Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton good? Will the Dallas Cowboys shoot themselves out of contention? Will New England Patriots QB Tom Brady turn abusive against his receivers? And so on.
The Kansas City question I have is this: Do the Chiefs play down to their opponents because they know they stink? Kansas City has made it to 8-0 with a subdued offense, to say the least. Is there another gear Kansas City’s offense can get into against a better team but never does because it's pointless?
The point is made every week that the Chiefs have a ridiculously easy schedule. With the playoffs a near certainty for Kansas City, questioning whether the Chiefs have the ability to beat good teams is perfectly valid. Because the Cleveland Browns hung around after a terrible first quarter and a half, does that mean Kansas City doesn’t have a chance against good teams?
When facing better teams than the surprisingly competent Browns, Alex Smith will probably need to have a better game. Two touchdowns and 225 passing yards and is nice, but will that be enough against Denver? Maybe, maybe not. But we knew that two months ago. Smith has the ability to pull out an A+ game. He did it against New Orleans in the playoffs two years ago.
This particular Chiefs team is built to minimize risk and let the best players win games. It’s the same approach that has been used all season long. This type of team can win playoff games. Although, a better offense would certainly help Kansas City’s chances.
Sunday’s game against Cleveland was similar to Kansas City’s seven previous contests, with one exception. Jason Campbell was sacked only once and hit four times. Even when the Browns offense barely put marks on the stat sheet in the first quarter, Kansas City’s pass rush failed to get to Campbell. Later in the game, it did have an impact, making Campbell uncomfortable in the pocket and forcing him to rush throws. In the second quarter, when the Browns looked most competent, Campbell was able to sit back with enough time to hit Josh Gordon for a 39-yard touchdown pass.
The offensive line is becoming an issue for Kansas City. I think Smith can pull out a 250- to 300-yard passing performance, even with Dwayne Bowe’s invisibility. I'm not sure the season is salvageable for the O-line. Smith was dropped six times, a season high. Overall, the Chiefs are in the league’s bottom 10 in sacks allowed and quarterback hits given up. Eric Fisher isn’t settling into the position. If anything, teams are exploiting him more and more. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, not only are they not getting solid production from the top pick of this year’s draft, but there isn't a replacement for him. While Fisher as a prospect is still good, hopes for a good rookie campaign are slim if there are still any.
Week after week I feel like a broken record when looking at the Chiefs’ games. Each one follows a predictable pattern, and no opponent has been good enough to force them out of it. The offense has rarely been challenged. Do the Chiefs lack explosiveness or do they just not have to use it? Even through eight games, I'm not completely sold either way on that question. Perhaps it will be answered on Nov. 17 when Denver becomes the best opponent Kansas City faces.