Some people said they saw this coming, but in truth few did.
Going into the year the Kansas City Chiefs were a favorite sleeper pick. They had a lot of talent on offense in Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles but simply lacked the quarterback to run the offense. They picked up Alex Smith, who is not a top quarterback but still a major improvement and a worthy leader. The Chiefs then paired Smith with Andy Reid who has had great success with developing and using quarterbacks. All of it seemed to suggest that even the 2-14 Chiefs could improve and compete for a wild card spot. While the Chiefs certainly look like they will get into the playoffs that narrative has not really occurred.
The Chiefs are 4-0 because of their defense.
The defense has been punishing, racking up the most sacks in the league and applying lots of pressure even when they do not get to the quarterback. Justin Houston has been the main force, as he is tied for the league lead with 7.5 sacks. Against the New York Giants this week his partner, Tamba Hali, was he more effective one, getting a sack and drawing a key holding penalty because he was bearing down on Eli Manning.
The Chiefs have also excelled in the secondary, slowing down many passing attacks. They have been effective at playing man defense, and though a few stars have burned them with that approach, they will shut down other options. For example, against the Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant went off, but no other Cowboys receiver had more than the mere 31 yards of Miles Austin. Victor Cruz burned the Chiefs, but again no other Giants weapon really did damage.
Regardless of how the Chiefs are doing it defensively, it is working. With this kind of defense they could easily make some big noise in the playoffs. The Chiefs are amazingly in competition for the division title just a year after having just two wins. The media will likely ascribe that to the new quarterback and offensive minded coach, but in reality the Chiefs’ success is all because of the exceptional defense.