7 weeks of football have been played, and as the half way mark approaches, it’s fair to say that we have a pretty good idea of which teams are shaping up to be amongst the leagues best. Of course there is always going to be a case for the Saints, the Seahawks, the 49ers, and the Broncos. The Colts and the Bengals have proven themselves sitting at 5-2 and atop of their divisions. The Lions are in the conversation and even though the Patriots haven’t been the powerhouse team we are accustomed to seeing, they are also 5-2 and still atop of the AFC East. But only one team still holds a goose egg in the loss column, and that team is probably the one team no one expected to have gotten this far undefeated, and that team is the Kansas City Chiefs.
As the only team left at 7-0, there has been much talk about the Chiefs and their new found success; however, does having the best record in the league automatically make you the best team in the league?
The Chiefs are having their best start since 2003. Last season (after sending 6 players to the pro-bowl), they went 2-14, were tied with Jacksonville for the worst record in the league, and received the number one draft pick in the 2013 draft. They fired head coach Romeo Crennel, and hired Andy Reid in the off season. The Chiefs also picked up Alex Smith after he was not resigned by the 49ers. It was destined to be a turn around season but no one saw them being 7-0 as they were ranked No. 19 in the Power Rankings in the Preseason. One of the biggest reasons this team is doing so well is because of their superior defense. The Chiefs are leading the NFL in PPG allowed (11.6), sacks (35) and passes defended/intercepted (47).
Although the Chiefs have drawn a buzz from fanning off seven opponents and do hold the best record in the league, I do not believe they are the best team in the league with several arguments to support my claim:
#1 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Having a 2-14 season the previous year makes the schedule the following year a tad bit weaker than teams with better records. Of course a team can’t help its schedule and regardless of who you’re playing, said team is supposed to go out and win. But in order to be the best, you have to play the best and so far the Chiefs have not done so. Their wins have come against sub .500 teams with the exception of Dallas, and even that was a come from behind win (a game in which ESPN has ranked their hardest yet).
Some will argue that the Denver Broncos have played the same teams so far (less 2) and yet are deemed in higher regard. And that assertion is actually correct. The Broncos had yet to see a team to truly test their pass defense until they saw the Cowboys (the same team that gave KC the most trouble) and had it not been for an INT by Romo, their streak would have ended well before Sunday. But when they faced a balanced offense as well as a defense ranked 4th in the pass in the Indianapolis Colts , they were exposed and they lost. And the teams the Broncos and the Chiefs both faced (except Dallas), the Broncos won VERY convincingly.
#2 OFFENSE IS AVERAGE AND UNIMPRESSIVE
The defensive unit of this team has been so magnificent that most have failed to notice that even with Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe this offense is merely average (although Jamaal Charles is having a great season, with 898 total yards (561 rushing, 337 receiving) and eight touchdowns). The offense has only scored 117 points thus far in seven games (18.3 per game) with many of those being helped out by turnovers deep in the opponents territory. The offense has had trouble driving long stretches, usually stalling out. With the teams they have played so far, and having to face Cleveland and Buffalo next, who cares if their offense has only scored 18 pts per game. Truth is, Kansas City is 7-0 because of a great defense. But what happens when they come across the QB’s that can read a defense, extend plays, and put some points on the board? It will take more than merely getting by to get those kinds of wins.
#3 GRUNT OF THEIR SCHEDULE IS YET TO COME
The Indianapolis Colts have defeated the Denver Broncos at home while the San Diego Chargers have defeated the Colts at home. Well here’s where it gets good. The Kansas City Chiefs have to face The Colts (in Indy), the Broncos twice, and the Chargers twice. The true test is yet to come and I’m not sure they pass. As good as that defense is, I’m not sure it holds on the road against teams that are balanced on both ends of the ball as the Chargers, Colts, and Broncos have been able to do this season. They may be 7-0 now, but could easily lose the last 6 of their last 7 games.
I mean no disrespect to the Chiefs because 7-0 is impressive in this league. Any team can do anything on any given Sunday. And the last time Andy Reid started a season 7-0 was in 2004 with the Eagles, and that ended in a trip to the Super Bowl. Of course I am NOT predicting KC in a Super Bowl, and I’m not trying to discredit that they are indeed a top team in this league thus far because of the magnitude of their defense, but to say they are best team in the league would mean they are complete on both sides of the ball and that they have proven they can win against respectable winning teams and Kansas City just isn’t there yet.