After a blistering start that may have conjured up memories of former Chiefs icon Derrick Thomas, outside linebacker Justin Houston can now say he has something else in common with Thomas.
On Wednesday, Houston became the first Chief since Thomas to be chosen AFC defensive player of the week twice in the same season. After a dominating opening-week performance against Jacksonville in which he recorded three sacks, Houston won the honor again after terrorizing Philadelphia for 4 1/2 sacks Thursday.
Chiefs Return To Work, Justin Houston Honored from The Mothership
On the offensive side of the ball, Chiefs QB Alex Smith will be leading his team against a Giants team that allowed 38 points by the victorious Carolina Panthers last Sunday. Smith offered proper perspective on the G-Men's defense.
"This is a defense that won the Super Bowl a couple years ago," Smith said. "This is a veteran team; they've been down before and I expect their best. After what happened last week, I think, they have too much veteran leadership on that team to not bounce back. I'm really expecting their best effort."
Manning also understands the Giants face a difficult test this Sunday against the Chiefs, who have ridden a mistake-averse offense and one of the league's best defenses to their first 3-0 start since 2010, when they finished 10-6 and lost in the first round.
"They do a good job stopping the run and getting the quarterback," Manning said. "They play a lot of man-to-man, an aggressive style defense so we've got to be really sharp. We can't afford to turn the ball over."
Manning said the Chiefs will be the most aggressive team, at least defensively, they've faced so far. Coughlin also had some nice things to say about the offense of Chiefs coach Andy Reid - Sunday's matchup will be the 20th time the old NFC East foes have met, with Reid holding a 10-9 advantage.
NFL Films' satirical mini-documentary chronicles how Berry, like most kids, liked ponies and rainbows - but asserts that sometime between those carefree days, his hard-hitting years with the Tennessee Volunteers and the present, his appreciation spit the bit.
Ah, but all is not lost for Berry. Toward the end of the short film, which includes interviews with Berry's dad, Chiefs teammates Derrick Johnson and Kendrick Lewis and Denver Broncos defensive back Champ Bailey, Berry resolves to proceed with some desensitization techniques ... culminating with a one-one-one meet-up with Warpaint (actually one-on-two, as the horse's rider, Chiefs cheerleader Susie, plays intermediary) inside a deserted Arrowhead Stadium.
KCChiefs.com Photo Gallery: Picture This: Kids, Art And Chiefs LBs
KCChiefs.com Video: Chiefs LBs Host Youth For Art Field Trip
KCChiefs.com Video: Reid: "We Don't Worry About Records"
KCChiefs.com Video: Smith: "I Expect Their Best"
KCChiefs.com Video: 1-On-1: Mitch Holthus With Derrick Johnson
KCChiefs.com Video: NFL Films Presents: Horsin' Around With Eric Berry
It's an age-old debate. As I've said before, coaches probably aren't as important as we like to think we are. But a coach's role -- in setting both the tone in the locker room and the expectations for his players -- can be crucial when it comes to changing the fortunes of a team.
Exhibit A: the Kansas City Chiefs.
Road To MetLife: Week 4 Cheat Sheet from FOX Sports
You can't deny the impact that has on an organization. As one ex-player told me this week in regards to the Josh Freeman stuff in Tampa Bay, "Aside from the coach, the most important person in the facility is the starting quarterback."
So, yes. Smith and Reid are top three storylines here.
But man, I've been awfully impressed with the defense. And that storyline, well, it's not quite as sexy, and it certainly isn't as simple to explain. The Chiefs' defense, ranked 20th in the league a season ago, is currently second in the league in points, allowing just 11.3 per game through three weeks.
NFLN Says: 3-0 Super Bowl Contenders? from ESPN
The Chiefs have started 10 possessions on their opponents' end of the field. Their opponents have started one in Kansas City's territory, and even that drive began at the Chiefs' 49.
Such consistently favorable field position can make life easy for a team, and credit to the Chiefs for enjoying the ride while it lasts.
It won't forever. When it ends, the Chiefs will have to make their own way.
Chiefs LB Justin Houston Is On Pace To Shatter Sack Records from FS Kansas City
The rest of the NFL is finally learning what we've known about linebacker Justin Houston since the Chiefs drafted him in 2011: He's a major, disruptive force on defense.
Houston was selected the AFC defensive player of the week Wednesday, the second time already this season he has been so honored. Only one other former Chief -- the legendary Derrick Thomas in 1991 -- has ever received the honor twice in the same season.
And there's no reason to believe Houston won't get the honor again this season.
QB Watch: Chiefs' Alex Smith from ESPN
Prediction: Look for another game in the Smith mold against the Giants. His completions again will be in the low-20s, his attempts in the mid-30s. Put him down for a couple of touchdown passes against a beleaguered defense, but Smith will also throw his first interception of the season.
Chiefs Likely Salivating At The Thought Of Giants' Miscues from The Associated Press via FS Kansas City
The Chiefs (3-0) lead the league with a plus-9 turnover differential, a big reason why they're undefeated. The Giants, meanwhile, are a league-worst minus-9, a major reason they've yet to win a game.
Houston Cracks This Week's MVP Watch from ESPN
ESPN's Dan Graziano, who puts together the list, had to find a place in his top 10 for Houston. He terrorized Philadelphia rookie offensive tackle Lane Johnson for three of his sacks and indeed made them appear simple. Houston is the only defensive player and only non-quarterback in Graziano's top 10.
Dontari Poe was in the top 10 last week but dropped out this week.
Hire Of Sutton One Of Reid's Best Moves from ESPN
Sutton, 62, was a veteran in his field, the highlights of his career being nine seasons as the head coach at Army and 13 as an assistant for the New York Jets. But he was largely unknown in Kansas City.
No more. Sutton, with the Chiefs at 3-0 and their aggressive defense leading the way, is approaching rock star status in Kansas City. He molded a group of talented but underachieving players into what so far has been one of the best defensive teams in the league and Sutton's hire is looking like one of Andy Reid's better moves.
10 Things To Know About The Chiefs from Giants.com
6. The number of Pro Bowl selections on the Kansas City Chiefs roster last season, despite their 2-14 record: S Eric Berry (starter), RB Jamaal Charles, P Dustin Colquitt, OLB Tamba Hali (starter), OLB Justin Houston (replacement), and ILB Derrick Johnson.
Coaching Confidential: Looking For First Win from Giants.com
Tom Coughlin generally waits for reporters to ask him about injuries before he discusses them, but today he opened his news conference with a rundown of the 10 players on the Giants' preliminary injury report.
Unfortunately, that's eight more players than the same list had last week.
Studs And Duds: Romo, McFadden Can Carry Fantasy Teams from USA Today
QB Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs: Smith has yet to top 300 yards passing in a game this year, but he's effective at limiting turnovers and scoring in the red zone. Against the Giants, who allow 264.3 passing yards and 2.33 aerial TDs per game, Smith could have one of his best games of the season.
Andy Reid Talks Rivalry vs. Giants from Giants.com
Sunday marks the 20th regular-season meeting between Coughlin and Reid - the most of any active head coaches -- but will be the first of Reid's tenure in Kansas City after 14 seasons with NFC East rival Philadelphia. Throughout the years and 130-plus wins apiece, they have gained a great deal of respect for each other.
"We do," Reid said Wednesday on a conference call. "We keep it brief on game day normally, but we talk throughout the year. I have a ton of respect for him, not only as a football coach -- he's a Hall of Fame football coach -- but also as a man. He's a great person."
Giants Are in Dire Spot, But You Wouldn't Know It By Talking To Them from The New York Times
History suggests that the Giants, 0-3 and off to their worst start since 1996, should be all but bereft of hope. Since 1990, when the current playoff format began, only 3 of the 115 teams to drop their first three games have reached the playoffs.
But the Giants are ignoring that daunting background as they prepare for Sunday's game in Kansas City, Mo., against the resurgent Chiefs, who are 3-0 in their first season under Coach Andy Reid. Giants Coach Tom Coughlin declined to characterize his team's visit to Arrowhead Stadium as a must-win situation.
Why Attitude Can Make Or Break Success from FOX Business
Setbacks often provide the foundation to test the mettle of an individual to see if he or she will accept defeat or rebound and take up the challenge. Examine Andy Reid and the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs. After the Eagles let him go at the end of last season, the veteran coach could have sat out, weighed his options, and taken a year off.
Instead, he decided to take his positive approach and ability to change cultures to Kansas City and has been a major force in changing the inside of the building.
Five things Learned From Week 3 Of The NFL Season from The Washington Times
Linebacker Justin Houston, 7.5 sacks through three games, is going to be mentioned alongside Von Miller, Aldon Smith and JJ Watt after this season as the premier defenders of this league. The defensive line, led by standout sophomore Dontari Poe, is disrupting pass plays as well as anyone ever has, and the entire secondary is playing well.
You want to see a team that could stop the Peyton Manning Train in 2013? Look no further than Kansas City, as this defense can stop anything.
Yet Eli Manning says he's trying to keep the tempo and rhythm up at practice. He's getting louder and more adamant with the calls. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks still talk about having the league's best offense and Antrel Rolle said practice was more intense Wednesday.
The Giants are exhibiting no signs that the end is near. No signs that Sunday is their last chance to turn the ship around.
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em For Week 4 from NFL.com
Eli Manning at Kansas City Chiefs: Anyone who watched the Giants offense (or lack thereof) last week should be terrified to start Manning and most of his teammates. One week after the entire roster was outscored by Cam Newton, the G-Men must now go to Kansas City to face one of the NFL's toughest defensive units. Keep Manning on your bench if possible. (Maximum value: Mid-QB2)
The Giants signed fullback John Conner, who made his way back to New York after a stint with the Jets. Also enjoy the Justin Tuck video as he uses the camera to get straightened up before he talks to the media. "Don't be a fair-weather fan," he said. "It's about being a fan in the good and the bad. I trust that we're going to try our best to figure this thing out."
Reading The Defense: Justin Houston Breaking Through from NFL.com
If you aren't up on the Kansas City Chiefs defense, you haven't been paying attention. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Chiefs have been arguably the league's top unit -- both on the field and in fantasy football.
And they've done it with a handful of household names like, um...
Chances are football fans know guys like Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Brandon Flowers. But they certainly aren't moving the meter when it comes to IDP leagues. Yet it's possible that Kansas City's biggest impact player is possibly its most overlooked.
No Time To Give Eli Manning Pass, NY Giants QB Must Carry Team from The NY Daily News
We're past the point of debating whether Manning is elite. He is one of only 11 quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl rings.
The great quarterbacks do more than just their own job when a team goes into the toilet. The Giants are not paying Manning all this money for him to allow the season to crumble in September. He must carry the team. He is the only Giant capable of getting them straightened out and keeping them alive in a weak division where nine victories can win it.
The offensive line abandoned Manning in Charlotte on Sunday, allowing seven sacks, but he still has eight interceptions in three games and needs to become more of the solution than part of the problem.
Jason Pierre-Paul: 'I'm Pretty Sure' Giants Will Beat Chiefs In Week 4 from Sports Illustrated
Pierre-Paul, who missed the whole preseason after back surgery, made his first start of 2013 in that game. So perhaps his return to a full-time role will help spark the defense. Through three weeks of the regular season, no team in football has allowed more points than the Giants (115). Each of their past two foes have topped 400 yards.
It is not reassuring that left tackle Will Beatty admitted he became fixated on the first sack he gave up to the Carolina Panthers and couldn't get past it. You have to wonder if those kinds of issues become more common if this slide snowballs.
I'm not sure if it's better or worse that I don't think team chemistry is at the root of the Giants' stumble. Chemistry is tricky, but finding better players at this point in the season is impossible. With the Kansas City Chiefs' very impressive defense up next, the Giants might have the opportunity to ponder that question.
Cover-Two: Grading First-Year Coaches from Sports Illustrated
Burke: A-minus. Reid has his team proving what we all thought we knew in 2012: that the Chiefs have a ton of talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The key question lingering at the moment is if Reid's offense, with Alex Smith at the helm, can win a wild one...
Farrar: A, with an A+++ for new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. As Jim Harbaugh did, Reid is working to Alex Smith's relative strengths, but at some point he's going to find out what Harbaugh did - Smith is too limited, and leaves too many throws on the field, to make things around him better. The real story here is the Kansas City defense, a unit that had a lot of talent, but is now coached up by former Jets assistant Sutton at the highest of levels...
Kansas City defensive end Justin Houston leads the league in sacks. And now he's coming for Giants rookie offensive tackle Justin Pugh.
Pugh, entering his fourth career game, says he's ready.
"He's similar to the guy I went up against last week," Pugh said. "Good motor. A great challenge for me. I'm out there practicing and we got some good guys playing defensive end here. They're definitely giving me some great looks this week."
Giants Need Wins, Not Words from The NY Post
Coughlin and the Giants hierarchy are mystified and stung by a Marshmallow Men performance that would have only made Coach Mahatma Gandhi proud.
So when Coughlin was asked what the challenge was for his embattled, wounded offensive line against a physical Chiefs defense, he said, "For us to go ahead again and regain the respect that we've always had throughout the league for being a physical football team."
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Defenses For Week 4 from NFL.com
Chiefs defense vs. New York Giants: The top-ranked defense in fantasy football, the Chiefs have the most favorable matchup possible this weekend against the suddenly hapless Giants. Defenses have combined to score the most fantasy points when facing Eli Manning and the G-Men, making Kansas City's team a virtual must-start option in leagues. (Maximum value: High-DEF1)