After their 29-20 win over Washington on Monday night, the Kansas City Chiefs are the last unbeaten team left in the NFL. That’s an impressive feat, and it’s probably not something many people predicted would happen before the season began. With smart coaching, a handful of superstars, and a little bit of luck, the Chiefs look like a real contender.
How they got here is a fascinating story in itself.
The Chiefs had something of a tumultuous offseason, with longtime cornerstone players (Jamaal Charles, Dontari Poe, Jeremy Maclin) being shown the door and general manager John Dorsey getting fired just a few weeks before training camp. They drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round, setting the stage for a potential quarterback controversy with Alex Smith. In the first game of the season, their best defensive player, Eric Berry, suffered a season-ending Achilles tear.
A lot of coaches would have crumbled under those circumstances, but Andy Reid is no ordinary coach.
How the Chiefs got to 4-0
In Week 1 against the Patriots, Reid dialed up a brilliant game plan to knock off the defending champions, unearthing a new star in running back Kareem Hunt and trusting Smith to open up the offense more. The Chiefs carried that momentum into hard-fought wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Chargers before the important Monday night showdown against Washington.
Things did not go great for KC early on. Washington jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead, keeping the Chiefs offense in check for the most part. Hunt was bottled up by a feisty Washington front seven, ending the first half with just 24 yards on five carries. The Chiefs didn’t get on the board until late in the second quarter, when Smith hooked up with Travis Kelce to force a 10-7 halftime score.
Despite the slow start, the Chiefs recovered and came out strong in the third quarter, with Smith taking the lead on a touchdown run. That’s the last time the offense found the end zone, but the Chiefs defense rallied as the fourth quarter turned into a thrilling slugfest.
Kansas City also found an unlikely new hero in rookie kicker Harrison Butker, replacing the injured Cairo Santos for his first NFL game. Butker drilled three field goals in the second half, including the game-winner with four seconds left. The Chiefs then recovered a wayward lateral for a touchdown and back-door cover.
At the end of the day, Smith was on point once again, avoiding turnovers and making perfect throws when he needed to keep drives alive. He finished his night with 293 yards and a touchdown on 27-of-37 passing. Hunt reached 100 rushing yards for the third time in four games, continuing an incredible rookie campaign. The defense was less than perfect, failing to sack Cousins a single time, but it got the job done in the end.
There’s still a tough road ahead
We don’t know how much longer the Chiefs can keep up this unbeaten run, especially with the AFC West gauntlet coming up soon. They face a resurgent Houston Texans squad on the road in Week 5 and host the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 6. The Week 7 matchup against the Oakland Raiders looks much less daunting if Derek Carr is still out, but then they get the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys before their Week 10 bye. There aren’t many easy games left on this schedule.
With that said, Reid’s Chiefs have proved us wrong in the past, and they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt for now. This is a fun, exciting team that keeps finding new ways to win, and the NFL is better off for it. Nobody deserves a Super Bowl run more than Reid, and this just might be the team that finally gets him there.