2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Chiefs are undefeated but are they the best?

    2013-10-27 18:21

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By TIM DAHLBERG
AP Sports Columnist

The first half was the easy part, though nothing comes that easy for the only undefeated team in the NFL.

The Kansas City Chiefs are 8-0, remarkable by itself in a league where parity rules and only hapless Jacksonville counts as a sure win. It borders on amazing when you consider the Chiefs were 2-14 a year ago and so anemic offensively that some fans actually cheered when quarterback Matt Cassel left with a concussion in a home loss to Baltimore.

The Chiefs went out and got a new quarterback, a new coach and a new general manager after that. A lot of the team is new, too, with some 30 different names on this season's roster than last.

They're good, yes, because you have to be good to win eight straight games in the NFL. Defensively, they're top-notch, and Alex Smith does a commendable job managing an offense that takes few risks but makes even fewer mistakes.

Still, no one outside Missouri and Kansas talks about the Chiefs in the same breath as the Broncos, Seahawks or 49ers, all teams that have lost. They're not Super Bowl favorites in the sports books in Las Vegas, where the wise guys still aren't convinced they belong among the NFL elite.

The Chiefs have their doubters, and win No. 8 Sunday at home against Cleveland likely did nothing to persuade them to jump on the bandwagon. A mediocre team at best, the Browns were in the game until the final minutes before finally falling 23-17.

It told no one anything about the Chiefs they didn't already know. And it remains anyone's guess how deep the team can possibly go in the playoffs.

But the players are starting to believe. And it may not be long before these Chiefs finally get some believers, too.

''The best you can be right now is 8-0 and that's where we're at,'' Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ''Everybody's going to give us their best. We know that. If we can take that punch and keep rolling, that's what we did today. It wasn't pretty, but a `W' sure does look good.''

It does, though those ''W's'' weren't exactly piled up at the expense of the better teams in the league. None of the teams the Chiefs have beaten have winning records at the midpoint of the season, and the weak schedule makes it tough to evaluate just where Kansas City should be ranked.

Not to worry, because that's about to change. The second half of the schedule isn't filled with the cupcakes the Chiefs have been fortunate to meet so far. It includes not just one, but two, meetings with the high-powered Broncos, and two more with a San Diego team that seems to be rapidly improving.

Throw in games against Indianapolis and Washington, and the second half of the schedule is about as tough as the first half was easy.

''The goal is to go farther and farther,'' running back Jamaal Charles said. ''We're going to take this one game at a time and look at the next opponent, but it's a blessing to be 8-0.''

While the Chiefs retooled a big chunk of their roster under new coach Andy Reid and new GM John Dorsey, the real key to the turnaround may lie with the steady play of Smith, who never seems terribly impressive but always seems to win. Cast off by San Francisco after a concussion gave Colin Kaepernick a chance to shine, Smith has won 27 of his last 33 starts over 2 1/2 seasons with two teams.

Smith was his usual efficient self against the Browns, throwing for 225 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs play it close to the vest, but Smith has thrown only four interceptions all year and is the second leading rusher on the team.

The only stat that really matters, though, is that Smith is undefeated as quarterback of the Chiefs.

''This is the NFL and there's not going to be blowouts week in and week out,'' Smith said. ''But it's fun being around this team. We enjoy coming to work, we enjoy preparing.''

A lot of people in Kansas City are enjoying coming to the stadium on Sundays, too. As good as this season has gone so far, last season was so miserable that fans raised money to fly a banner over the stadium calling for Cassel to be benched and GM Scott Pioli to be fired.

If the fans have moved on, so have the players.

''Last year is last year,'' receiver Dexter McCluster said. ''I'm done talking about it. 8-0 speaks for itself.''

It does, though it doesn't speak loudly. There are a lot of games still to be played, and a lot of questions still to be answered.

The Kansas City Chiefs may not be the best team in the NFL, or even the best team in their division.

But right now their record says they are.

----

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Luke WillsonOct 24 10:44p

Seattle Seahawks TE Luke Willson (groin) will play in the team's Week 8 game, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Crockett GillmoreOct 24 10:32p

Baltimore Ravens rookie TE Crockett Gillmore will receive the start at tight end in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Ravens appear to have plenty of confidence [ More ]

Golden TateOct 24 10:12p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate will be facing the league's 29th ranked pass defense in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons.

Steve JohnsonOct 24 10:08p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson has played only 20 percent of the snaps in the last month, but he's been the team's most effective receiver in that time. [ More ]

Reggie BushOct 24 10:02p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is expected to be inactive for the Week 9 game against the Atlanta Falcons in London, according to a source Friday, Oct. 24.

Calvin JohnsonOct 24 10:02p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) is unlikely to play in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons in London, according to a source. The team has a bye in [ More ]

Ryan MathewsOct 24 09:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) missed his sixth consecutive game in Week 8 Thursday, Oct. 23, against the Denver Broncos, but he could return to practice as [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 24 09:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) missed his third straight game in Week 8 Thursday, Oct. 23, against the Denver Broncos, but he might be able to return to practice Monday, Oct. 27.

Alan BallOct 24 07:02p

The Jacksonville Jaguars are extremely thin at cornerback heading into the team's Week 8 game, with CBs Alan Ball (biceps) out, and Dwayne Gratz (hip flexor) questionable. There is [ More ]

Kevin WilliamsOct 24 06:32p

Seattle Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman (foot), DT Jordan Hill (ankle), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), TE Zach Miller (ankle), C Max Unger (foot), LB Bobby Wagner (toe) and WR Bryan [ More ]

Khalif BarnesOct 24 06:32p

Oakland Raiders OT Khalif Barnes (quadriceps) is expected to start at right tackle in Week 8, but head coach Tony Sparano would not say if Barnes or OT Menelik [ More ]

LaMarr WoodleyOct 24 06:22p

Oakland Raiders DE LaMarr Woodley (biceps) and FS Usama Young (knee) are expected to be placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Dion SimsOct 24 06:02p

Miami Dolphins SS Jimmy Wilson (hamstring) is listed as doubtful for Week 8. LB Koa Misi (ankle) is listed as questionable, while OT Branden Albert (elbow), LS John Denney [ More ]

Billy WinnOct 24 05:52p

Cleveland Browns WR Rodney Smith (hamstring) and DT Phil Taylor (knee) have been ruled out for Week 8. DE Billy Winn (quadriceps) and SS Jim Leonhard (ankle) are listed [ More ]

Justin TuckOct 24 05:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), DE LaMarr Woodley (biceps) and FS Usama Young (knee) did not participate in practice Friday, [ More ]

Derrick ColemanOct 24 05:32p

Updating a previous report, Seattle Seahawks RB Derrick Coleman (foot) had surgery to repair a foot injury this week. He is expected to miss at least six weeks.

Brandon BrownerOct 24 05:32p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and has been ruled out for Week 8. OG Dan Connolly (concussion), DE Dominique [ More ]

Johnathan JosephOct 24 05:32p

Houston Texans CB Darryl Morris (ankle) and LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee) have been ruled out for Week 8 against the Tennessee Titans. LBs Jadeveon Clowney (knee), Brian Cushing (knee), [ More ]

Frostee RuckerOct 24 05:22p

Arizona Cardinals TE Troy Niklas (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles. DE Calais Campbell (knee) is questionable, while S Rashad Johnson (knee) and [ More ]

Morgan BurnettOct 24 05:12p

Green Bay Packers DE Datone Jones (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints. S Morgan Burnett (calf) is questionable, while CB Sam Shields [ More ]

James StarksOct 24 05:12p

Green Bay Packers RB James Starks (ankle) was limited in practice for the second straight day Friday, Oct. 24, but is probable for Week 8 against the New Orleans [ More ]

Lance BriggsOct 24 05:02p

Chicago Bears LB Jonathan Bostic (back) and LB Lance Briggs (ribs) were limited in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and are doubtful for Week 8. S Danny McCray (knee) did [ More ]

Ryan ClarkOct 24 05:02p

Washington Redskins CB Tracy Porter (hamstring) and FS Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) were limited during practice Friday, Oct. 24. DE Chris Baker (thigh), OT Tyler Polumbus (knee), LB Perry [ More ]

Jack CrawfordOct 24 04:52p

Dallas Cowboys OT Doug Free (foot) and DE Jack Crawford (calf) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24. Anthony Spencer (knee) was limited during practice, while LB Bruce [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanOct 24 04:52p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman continues to run with confidence in the absence of RB Montee Ball (groin), and Ball will likely find it hard to win his starting [ More ]

Jonathan GoodwinOct 24 04:32p

New Orleans Saints C Jonathan Goodwin (ankle, knee) and LB Kyle Knox (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and have been ruled out. DT Brodrick Bunkley [ More ]

Nick MangoldOct 24 04:32p

New York Jets LB Trevor Reilly (knee) and WR Greg Salas (wrist, ankle) both were limited in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and are questionable for Week 8. OT Oday [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 24 04:32p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Christopher Owens (knee) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the St. Louis Rams. WR Junior Hemingway (hamstring) and S Eric Berry (ankle) are [ More ]

Khiry RobinsonOct 24 04:22p

New Orleans Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and has been ruled out for Week 8.

Jo-Lonn DunbarOct 24 04:22p

St. Louis Rams C Tim Barnes (shoulder) and CB Brandon McGee (foot) are both out for Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs. CBs Janoris Jenkins (knee) and Trumaine [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 24 04:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) said he won't rush back to play until his ankle is fully healed. 'It's our job to help this team win, and [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 24 04:12p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and has been ruled out for Week 8.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group