For many NFL football fans, the Kansas City Chiefs represent a bit of a quandary when deciding whether they are a strong football team.
However, count me among those who believe that the Chiefs are capable of winning a Super Bowl, even the one that will be in Houston’s Reliant Stadium come February 2017.
There are at least several reasons for my optimism (relative to others) about the Chiefs’ chances to make it to the Super Bowl. Granted, Kansas City would not be the betting favorite in the AFC, let alone the NFL. But even after last week’s 19-17 home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City is still in a decent position to make the postseason for the third time in four seasons under head coach Andy Reid.
The Chiefs are still in a good position based on the current NFL standings. The Chiefs are still 7-3 and only game out of first place in the AFC West Division. They also have a road victory over the division leader, the Oakland Raiders. Kansas City is in one of the two wildcard spots (the Chiefs and Denver Broncos are a game in front of the Miami Dolphins) in a relatively open AFC though the Patriots still may be the team to beat. However, all the other teams have questions.
The final schedule is daunting as the Chiefs have to play Denver twice (including this Sunday in Denver) as well as divisional foes San Diego and Oakland at least once.
But, Kansas City has generally remained competitive save for an early-season 43-14 road loss at Pittsburgh. They are a conservative offensive unit and the team generally gets carried by its strong defense. This type of play may not be flashy, but serves them well in key late-season games and for the postseason.
This leads to a second reason to consider the Chiefs. They have been doing what the Broncos did last year in eventually winning Super Bowl 50: be efficient offensively and let the defense keep the team in games.
Even though, Kansas City is only 24th in total defense by giving up a lot of yards, the Chiefs are tied for the fifth-lowest scoring average at 18.7 points per game. With the recent return of sack master Justin Houston, look for the Chiefs to try and get after the passer again.
Offensively, the Chiefs prefer ball control, few turnovers, and a solid running game. The downside is any sort of letdown offensively could lead to problems in scoring. Quarterback Alex Smith hasn’t had quite the season as hoped with only nine touchdown passes so far. He has thrown only four picks, but one was a crucial one in the end zone in the home loss to Tampa Bay.
Yet, it may be because of offense is in transition. Spencer Ware is the running back while Jamaal Charles might return late in the regular season or the playoffs. Tight end Travis Kelce remains a top player at his position. With Jeremy Maclin dealing with injuries, the Chiefs have shown more depth at receiver with rookie Tyreek Hill and second-year player Chris Conley having caught at least 30 passes this season.
If Smith can dial things back up, the offense can become a lot more versatile and dangerous. Combined with its strong defense and uncertainty in the AFC, the Chiefs must be considered legit contenders to reach to the Super Bowl. Once at the Big Game, anything can happen.