Column: Undefeated Chiefs deserve respect

Hey football fans, don't forget about Kansas City.

If ever there was a team that was overlooked despite being the only unbeaten team left, it would be the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs.

Even though they are a league-leading 9-0, most experts and fans are almost exclusively dismissing the Chiefs. No one wants to give this group a chance when it comes to the playoff conversation. Most choose to focus their Super Bowl predictions elsewhere. And in spite of it, the Chiefs just keep winning.

Kansas City can’t win a Super Bowl right? They were 2-14 last year. Well, I’m not exactly willing to say that they will. But I am saying that they, like any other successful team thus far, have a chance.

Most power rankings give a fitting explanation as to why they aren’t getting the respect. Denver, Indianapolis, Seattle, New Orleans, New England and even Cincinnati are usually ranked ahead of them. It’s hard to top a list of such teams that have been so good this year. But the Chiefs deserve to be there.

It’s easy to poke holes in the Chiefs. They haven’t exactly looked too pretty in most of the nine games they have won against iffy competition. But I would argue that the way in which they have won is what gives them an edge in playoff scenarios.

Because this team pretty much wills its way to victory each week, it has shown that it can play with anyone in the league.

Take this past Sunday for example. In an ugly, grind-it-out defensive battle against an underrated Buffalo Bills team, the Chiefs trailed for most of the game. However, Kansas City used a string of big stops in the second half to keep the game close.

With Buffalo up 10-3 and knocking on the doorstep, the Chiefs defense came through with the game changer: a 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

By the way, Kansas City leads the league in pick-sixes this year. These kinds of plays, at just the right time, have been the hallmark of this team all season long.

The offense hasn’t been prolific. Although quarterback Alex Smith hasn’t been awful, he’s just not all that great either. The lack of a super-offense like the one we see in the Saints is a fairly logical reason why the team is overlooked. They aren’t as exciting to watch. There’s no “Greatest Show on Turf” in Kansas City.

Still, the offense gets a huge boost from running back Jamaal Charles, who seems fit to run all over any defense he pleases so far. The offensive line has been superb as well.

And then there’s the defense. It has been, for the most part, dominant this year. The team leads the NFL with 23 takeaways and a plus-15 turnover ratio. More impressively, the Chiefs have turned the 23 forced turnovers into 84 points, which is 39 percent of the points they’ve scored all season long. Also key to their wins this year, they have held each of their opponents to 17 or fewer points in every game this year, also leading the league.

Players like Tamba Hali and Sean Smith, both making a case for an all-star caliber year, are difference makers, something that takes good regular season teams and turns them into playoff-winning ones. With competition that is sure to come in the post-season, they will need such efforts to continue if it wants a crack at making it to East Rutherford, N.J., in February.

In my eyes, the Chiefs have the pieces in place to make a run. Guiding those pieces is coach Andy Reid, who has played an intricate part in turning things around in Kansas City. Even though teams like Denver, Indianapolis and New England are all good picks, the Chiefs will get a chance. Right now, I still like them to win the AFC West.

Kansas City will have their first big-time test when they travel to Denver this week. Don’t immediately check that game off as a Broncos win; the Chiefs have shown they deserve some respect.

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