Kansas City Chiefs: Strong Enough to Make a Second-Half Run?


That sound you hear coming from London, England, is the wind back in the sails of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Following a tough 1-5 start, Andy Reid’s team has rebounded with victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers (23-13) and Detroit Lions (45-10) – the latter coming on Sunday afternoon overseas (morning in the Eastern time zone).

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Regardless of what clocking you’re following, the Chiefs defense made sure Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t have a lot of time to throw in this contest. Kansas City has been so-so at rushing the passer it its first seven games, totaling only 15 sacks during the team’s 2-5 start. But defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s unit spent Sunday in the Detroit backfield, dropping Stafford six times and limiting the Lions to 81 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City offense again relied on a balance attack to notch their second consecutive win. In last Sunday’s 10-point win over the visiting Steelers, Reid’s club rolled up 377 total yards via 29 rushing plays (138 yards) and 34 passing plays (239). On Sunday against the Lions, the Chiefs ran 32 times for 206 yards and totaled 31 passing plays for 134 yards. And a team that failed to score at least 30 points in any of their first seven games this year rolled up 45 points in jolly old England.

While the loss of perennial Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles a few weeks ago certainly figured to doom the team, the offense has rallied around young Charcandrick West, who ran for 97 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown on Sunday one week after gouging the Pittsburgh defense for 110 yards and a score on the ground.

Oct 30, 2015; London, United Kingdom; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) and linebacker Justin Houston (50) listen to safety Eric Berry (29) at press conference at Allianz Park in preparation of the NFL International Series game against the Detroit Lions. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Combine the steady play of quarterback Alex Smith, who threw for two scores and ran for another against Detroit, along with a club that has allowed four straight opponents to less than 20 points, and progress is certainly being made. As Pete Sweeney of KCChiefs.com points out, Smith’s 78 rushing yards in the game were the most ever by a Chiefs quarterback in a game.

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Still, the Chiefs are two game under .500 and obviously a long way from challenging the Denver Broncos for the AFC West title. Add in the fact that they dropped a home game to Peyton Manning and company way back in Week 2 and Reid’s club has quite the mountain to climb.

But could it be more like a small hill? Three of the team’s five losses are out of the conference and with the Detroit game out of the way, the Chiefs will face AFC opponents in the final eight games, with five of those contests within the division. Kansas City plays three of its final four games at home and close the season with the Cleveland Browns and much-improved Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

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Yes, there is half the season remaining for the Chiefs and some other teams that got off to sluggish starts. Reid has seen his team get off to great starts (2013) and fade down the stretch while also struggling out of the gate and getting hot at midseason.

At the very least, these Kansas City Chiefs still have some life left in them, as they have shown the last two Sundays. It’s the final eight Sundays that are now the key.