Photo: John Rieger USA TODAY Sports
After seven weeks of the regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL. At 7-0, they are garnering enough respect but still most NFL experts believe it’s a mirage of some kind. But we don’t think so.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-0) - If the Kansas City Chiefs are a fluke, well they’re a darn good one. After doing what they had to against a pesky Houston Texans team on Sunday, they are a perfect 7-0 and sit atop the AFC West standings.
The Chiefs certainly have their flaws but so do the other 31 NFL teams. What the Chiefs can lay claim to for the moment is they are the NFL’s only unbeaten team. How long can that last? Nobody knows for certain but in the wacky NFL one thing is certain, whenever the Chiefs lose a game this season, it’ll happen because the team they faced beat them on the field. This team simply won’t beat itself.
Whatever Andy Reid is saying to motivate his team is something that should be bottled up and savored for a rainy day. At some point, even the most loyal Chiefs fan have to admit, this team won’t be able to keep the run of victories going.
What the Chiefs displayed on Sunday was a hard-nosed defense that when it needed to make stops, it can regardless of down or distance.
The offense proved that it can sustain long drives, win the field of position battle and score enough points to tip the victory scales. Sure we’d all like to see them score more points but it might not happen this season. The offense is built to game manage and feed of its defense. It may never be anything more than that.
For now, this is the best team in the AFC West. They move up several notches on the respect meter after beating a highly emotional and strong willed Texans team on Sunday. They brought their ‘A’ game and the Chiefs still found a way to win.
Thus until further notice, they are kings of the AFC West.
Next Up: vs. Cleveland Browns
2. Denver Broncos (6-1) - Now we know for certain. If the Denver Broncos are going to be the Super Bowl darlings everyone predicted when the season started, their 37-year old quarterback is going to have to carry them the rest of the way.
Peyton Manning was both human and brilliant in the Broncos six-point loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night. And when you consider the Colts lost their best offensive lineman, best wide receiver and at times both of starting cornerbacks, it’s remarkable the game was still in doubt in the last two minutes.
Manning is at a crossroads with his team. The Broncos defense, though outstanding against the run, simply doesn’t have the defensive chops to be a team that can make enough stops in the passing game. What the Colts proved on Sunday night is if you’re willing to throw the ball to the middle of the field, run the ball up the gut and be patient, eventually the large chunks of yards and points will follow.
The Broncos armor began to show some wear with their lackluster performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars a week ago. And with the Colts exposing their weak secondary, this team reminds me much of the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs.
Broncos Defensive Coordinator, Jack Del Rio, is the reincarnation of Greg Robinson. They run the same schemes and in NFL terms its vastly outdated. Ultimately like the Chiefs team of ten years ago, the team eventually collapsed because the defense couldn’t make enough stops.
It would appear the Broncos are swimming in the same waters as their AFC counterparts did in 2003 when they had the games best offense. The Broncos schedule shifts significantly the last nine games of the season.
Like the Chiefs after this Sunday’s game at home, the Broncos will play five of their last eight games on the road and whomever survives that stretch will likely be the division champion.
So which team has the advantage the final eight games, clearly the Chiefs.
Next Up: vs. Washington Redskins
3. San Diego Chargers (4-3) - This is hard team to figure out but as I said last week the Chargers might be the team that ultimately decides which team is going to win the AFC West. Both the Broncos and Chiefs have yet to play the up and down Chargers.
But mark my words this is a better team than anyone thought they’d be at this point of the season. Still it’s early to anoint them AFC West killers but the Chargers play four of their final five games at home this season. That could put them in wild card contention should they keep winning. Granted they have a brutal road travel schedule that puts them on the east coast four times in 2013 but so far their 1-1 in those contests.
That aside, everyone continues to marvel at the season Quarterback, Phillip Rivers has put together. Though it’s not as flashy as years past, he’s probably the best game manager within the division right now.
As long as the Chargers ground game continues to churn up yards, Rivers is going to guide his team to touchdowns and field goals with relative ease. Granted they’re not lighting up the scoreboard but they don’t have to with a balanced offensive attack.
Next Up: Bye Week
4. Oakland Raiders (2-4) - With their bye week behind them the Raiders have an opportunity set the tone for the remainder of their season. They’re not going to be a wild card team, nor are they going to reach the .500 mark this year.
But they are improving and at some point will begin to put the pieces together to once again be a consistent member of the AFC West.
They have a brutal schedule the rest of the way so they’re best chance to improve will be how well they play in their home park. The Coliseum has lost some its luster in recent years but it will serve as the foundation for this teams future success.
Next Up: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Why do some NFL experts maintain the Chiefs are just lucky?
For all the news, notes and quotes on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com