Kansas City Chiefs
2nd in AFC West
Last Game: Road loss at Houston Texans (2-0), 19-12
Next Game: Home vs. New York Jets (1-1) — Sunday, September 25 at 1:00PM EST
After piloting the largest comeback in franchise history in a Week 1 win over the Chargers, Alex Smith was stymied by a tough Texans defense in Houston.
Smith was just 20/37 (54%) for 186 yds and no TDs. He threw no picks, but he fumbled twice, both of which were recovered by the Texans. The Chiefs defense played well to keep them in the game, but their offense could do nothing all game.
Thus continues a trend for the baffling Chiefs under Andy Reid and Alex Smith. The first two games — and the first two halves of Week 1, even — are microcosms of this ever confusing team.
The Chiefs and Smith have shown the capability to throw the ball well and be explosive on offense when needed, as in their historic Week 1 comeback. They usually depend on a strong running game, and their passing game has more often been stagnate and utterly uninspiring. As in the first half of Week 1 where they were shut out and fell down by 21 points.
Jamaal Charles is working with the scout team, and may not play again this week. Spencer Ware has shown, not just this season but last season as well, that he’s capable of playing well in Charles’ absence.
Alex Smith has a tendency to bounce back after poor games, but the Jets are a tough ask. They boast a big, physical, and talented defensive line. After missing the first game, Sheldon Richardson began heating up in the second half against the Bills last week, and Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams have been spectacular this season.
Throw in speedy rookie LB Darron Lee and the ball-hawking Marcus Williams, and this is one tough D. The Chiefs strength is running the ball — they’re averaging 5.3 ypc this season. The Jets main strength is stopping the run. They’re fifth in the NFL in run defense, surrendering a measly 71.3 yards per game, on 3.8 ypc.
The Chiefs need this win at home, as after this they play two road games at the Steelers and at the Raiders. This is a tough stretch in the Chiefs’ schedule in which they play three tough defenses (Texans, Jets, and Steelers) and the Raiders’ Number 1 offense.
The Chiefs can adapt to any type of game, but struggle against physical defensive teams like the Jets and Steelers. This team needs to figure out an identity and get back to playing tough, physical defense themselves.
They’re currently 16th in the NFL, giving up 369.5 ypg, and are a woeful 29th in rush defense. Oh yeah, the Jets are fifth in the NFL in rushing. That’s not a good combination for the Chiefs.
Much like the Broncos, the Chiefs success is predicated on running the ball well and playing quality defense. There hasn’t been much consistency with that this season, and the Chiefs won’t win all the time in the hands of Alex Smith.
The Broncos defense looks as good or better than last season. They can overcome offensive struggles. The Chiefs defense, without Justin Houston and with aging players at all spots, look to have taken a step back this season. The Chargers have an explosive offense that required a historical effort for the Chiefs to hang. The Raiders offense is even more explosive. The Chiefs need to figure out an identity, and fast.