This 2013 season has exceeded all expectations and brought joy back into being a Chiefs fan. Lets look back on the start of one of the best Chiefs seasons in recent memory.
A year removed from arguably the worst season in franchise history, the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs have rocketed out to a 9-0 start, the best record in the NFL. A remarkable turnaround, as I'm sure you are well aware of. As the Chiefs enter their bye in Week 10, they have yet to be beaten, despite the best efforts of some very talented 9 NFL teams. Before we look forward to the most anticipated game of the year and beyond, there have been some major tests this team has had to pass on their way to 9-0.
Week 1: Same old, same old?
The last offseason came with many necessary changes. A new Head Coach and General Manager, a new Quarterback via trade, and a whopping 52 new players for the 90 man roster gave the Chiefs a fresh outlook after the debacle that was 2012. Preseason speculation aside, fans did not know what to expect of the team entering Jacksonville Week 1 and for good reason. In the past two years alone the Chiefs have gotten throttled in the first game out of the gate. Not only that, but it came following offseasons of considerable hype, with some experts picking the Chiefs to win the AFC West in 2011 and 2012. Taking that into account, the Chiefs 1st "real" game was a major test. Questions would answered about the new direction of the team. And they were. Kansas City dominated the Jags, 28-2 where the only points allowed were on a blocked punt for a safety. This would not be a start like the recent years have given us. The Chiefs showed up to play.
Week 2: Defense or Jags?
Sitting at a shiny 1-0, the Chiefs hosted the Dallas Cowboys in the home opener. We all saw what the defense did to Jacksonville. But how much of that performance was the D, and how much of it was the failure of the Jags? This would certainly be put to the test in Week 2 against one of the better offensive teams in the league, the Cowboys. That offense in Dallas we now know is capable of putting up 48 points on an NFL _efense, but they managed 16 on this day. Chiefs move to 2-0. And now it slowly creeps in. What if this team is for real? What can this D be capable of? This would be put to, once again, another test in Week 3.
Week 3: Stopping the Unstoppable
Andy Reid's return to Philadelphia meant the Chiefs were again facing an offensive minded team with high scoring ability. The Eagles in Week 3 were on a tear offensively making a fool out of the Redskins D on national television and hanging high numbers on the Chargers. The Chiefs' defenses in the past have gotten burned by mobile QBs and Michael Vick was poised to put Chip Kelly's offense into overdrive on our Chiefs. A pick 6 by DJ/Berry to start the game was foreshadowing to say the least. The Kansas City D made a statement on TNF in front of the nation with a 26-16 win to move to 3-0. Another offense, another meager 16 points allowed.
Week 4: Giant Blowout
The New York football Giants came into Arrowhead winless, and left the same way losing big, 31-7. Save for one big play, the Giants had nothing much going for its offense. Granted NY is a bad team, but the Chiefs just 4 weeks in needed to prove that they were not the 2012 Chiefs, and that they will beat teams that they should. This test would be passed. Another special defensive performance and the 7 points allowed generated some more buzz, and questions about the offense scoring more were answered as the Chiefs scored the most points all season.
Week 5: Tennessee Trap
It's Week 5 and the Chiefs are 4-0. We shouldn't be here, I thought. Not after last season. We will probably lose eventually. And this week looked as good as ever to. The Titans were the best defensive team we were to face up to that point, and they had yet to turn the ball over, something our defense feasts on. Were it not for some Texan heroics, they could have been undefeated. It's also at Tennessee, away from the confides of Arrowhead. These factors, along with my prior intuition that the Chiefs would eventually let me down, had me thinking loss. The Chiefs had other ideas though, beating a good team on the road 26-17. Now you might say we were fortunate to face backup QB Ryan Fitzmagic instead of up-and-comer starter Jake Locker. But historically Ryan had our number, being 4-1 against the Chiefs before the game. Evidently the Fitzmagic had worn off and he threw 2 picks to two new Chiefs' defensive backs Cooper and Demps as the Chiefs passed yet another test to move to 5-0.
Week 6: Like Old Times
We remember the Chiefs dominance over the Raiders in the 90's pretty well. Marty sure knew how to beat the Raiders. Unfortunately that dominance had turned into futility as the Chiefs had not beaten the team from Oakland at home since 2006! That's 7 straight years of letting our biggest rival come into our house and beat us. It didn't matter what the records were or the quality of each team, the Raiders found some way to beat us at home for 7 years running. Not this year. The Chiefs test this week aimed to buck this disturbing trend and buck it they did, beating the Raiders 24-7 to advance to 6-0. Arrowhead is definitely back, and back with a vengeance.
Week 7: A Curious Case
Coming into game 2 of a 3 game stretch at home where the Chiefs proved in the week pyror (pun intended) that at home the Chiefs hold a huge advantage, the Chiefs felt they stood a chance against anybody there. Most certainly the reeling Texans, losers of 4 straight after a 2-0 start, with pick 6 machine Shaub at the helm should be business as usual for the these Chiefs. But no, Houston had a different plan in mind. Making his first start, 3rd string QB Case Keenum played well, limiting his mistakes and keeping the Texans in the game until the very end. All Houston needed it seemed was a QB that did just that. Their defense ranked #1 in the NFL for total yards, and they still had weapons on offense. This good team gave the Chiefs their absolute best shot, and came up short, losing 17-16. Be it not for a bizarre collapse by HC Gary Kubiak in the recent Colts game, the Texans with Case Keenum throwing on the money probably win that game. That said, the Texans with Case at QB has been one of the better teams the Chiefs have played this season and this week's test was passed.
Week 8: The Cleveland Browns
No clever title needed for the Browns. The Browns with Hoyer the Destroyer starting at QB had won 3 straight before having to revert back to Weeden and his powerfully accurate underhand passes. This goes to show that the Browns are a good team when a competent QB is leading them. With a good defense and some high quality receiving threats this team minus the QB might be the best ever for the expansion Browns. Once again a team with a good D and receivers gave the Chiefs their best shot and came up short, 23-17, despite a good showing from Jason Campbell. The past two weeks played out very similarly, against very similar teams going through very similar QB struggles and both opted to try their new guy against the Chiefs. The results show the Chiefs win both games and move to 8-0 but the Browns and Texans gave the Chiefs very close games, despite the Chiefs holding both under 18 points. I think this points more to the fact the Chiefs can win games with their defense and win close games. Tests passed. The Browns with Campbell went on to beat the Ravens in Week 9, with Campbell taking home the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Week 9: What in the Heck is a Bill?
Like a duck bill? So why do they have a Buffalo as the mascot? Besides the name being confusing, the Buffalo Bills games at Buffalo have been treacherous journeys for Chiefs teams for as far back as 1986. 1986! Brandon Flowers mentioned that with so many recent games between these two teams, they are almost like a division opponent, meaning the game will be hard fought and can go both ways regardless of output on the day. And right he was as we saw the Chiefs be thoroughly outplayed last Sunday but win the ballgame 23-13 to move to the current 9-0. This was one of the bigger tests of them all. Could the Chiefs win despite the team playing poorly? Yes, yes they could.
What's the next test for the Chiefs? Well I think you already know that one. So far so good Chiefs, so far so good.