Football breakdown: Why the Kansas City Chiefs are 4-0


With their 31-7 over the New York Giants last Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs are 4-0 for the first time since 2003. That was the year the Chiefs started out 9-0 and finished the regular season 13-3 before losing to the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs.

Not only are the Chiefs 4-0 for the first time in a decade, but they’ve also already doubled their win total from 2012, which was one of the most dismal years in franchise history and led to head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli’s firings.

So why are the Chiefs, who are just one year removed from a 2-14 season and having the top pick in the 2012 draft, one of just five remaining undefeated teams in 2013?

Well for starters, the Chiefs’ defense has been lights out in 2013. The defense has scored two touchdowns itself while allowing just three. It has also forced 12 turnovers and leads the league with 18 sacks.

Linebacker Justin Houston in particular has been tremendous this season as he leads the league with 7.5 sacks. His coming out party was in new head coach Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia against the Eagles, where Houston sacked Eagles quarterback Michael Vick 4.5 times.

Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry is also continuing his dominance as he already has an interception and a fumble recovery. He took his interception against Philadelphia for a touchdown.

The pass defense as a whole has been terrific for the Chiefs. Behind the play of Berry and cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith, Kansas City is allowing a league-low 188.8 pass yards per game. That’s especially impressive considering the Chiefs have faced Vick, Tony Romo and Eli Manning, all of whom are quality signal-callers.

Where the Chiefs have seen real change, though, is on offense, where quarterback Alex Smith and company have turned the ship around from a year ago.

In 2012, quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined for 23 turnovers, and the Chiefs as a whole were worst in the league in turnover differential at minus-24. But this season, the Chiefs are first in the NFL at plus-nine in turnover differential. In fact, it wasn’t until this past week against the Giants that Smith threw his first interception.

Smith is also one of just nine quarterbacks who have started every game for their team with two or fewer picks. That list also includes Vick, who threw both his interceptions against the Chiefs.

Kansas City is also finally doing what the fundamental goal of offense is: to score points. In 2013, the Chiefs are 11th in the NFL in points per game at 25.5. That’s a far cry from the 13.2 points Kansas City averaged last year, which ranked dead last in the league.

What’s perhaps most surprising about Smith’s play, though, is his ability to run the ball. Smith ranks third in rushing among quarterbacks in the league with 151 yards, trailing only Vick and Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor.

Overall, the Chiefs are now one of the best teams in the NFL. And it’s because they take care of the ball, put teams away in the fourth quarter and have one of the best defenses in the league.

It looks like the changes Reid and company have put in place are working.

Sean frye is a senior in journalism and mass communications. Please send all comments to