Peter Sweeney of our sister site, Arrowhead Pride, took some time out of his busy week to answer all of our burning questions about his undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. We talked about everything from offensive line woes to Alex Smith’s surprising resurgence in 2017. Take a look at all of his answers below.
1. What is the Chiefs’ biggest strength on offense right now? What about their biggest weakness?
On the surface, the Kansas City Chiefs’ biggest strength on offense right now is without a doubt rookie running back Kareem Hunt, but digging deeper, it’s the offensive play-calling of Andy Reid.
The early untold story of the NFL season is that Andy Reid has really created a new offensive scheme.— Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) September 30, 2017
The Chiefs have morphed their offense to a college style system, using option and motion plays, as well as misdirection. Before the season, we had discussed Tyreek Hill becoming the Chiefs’ No. 1 wide receiver, but he isn’t that—he’s moreso the No. 1 playmaker, and in that role, defenses need to be aware of him at all times.
As they are, the Chiefs’ other weapons like Travis Kelce and Hunt have more room to work.
The biggest weakness right now has to be the offensive line. Bryan Witzmann has been playing left guard for the Chiefs since the beginning of the season as last year’s initial starter, Parker Ehinger, continues to recover from a torn ACL. The Chiefs lost starting center Mitch Morse back in Week 2 to a foot sprain, and Zach Fulton has replaced him. Last week, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif left the game with a knee sprain and there’s been no confirmation who will start in his place this week.
This should leave the door open for the Texans’ front seven to pounce.
2. How about for the defense? Biggest strength and weakness?
The biggest strength of the Chiefs’ defense is Justin Houston. Through his first four games, Houston looks to have regained the burst that made him one of the best pass rushers in the league back in 2014 and 2015. Houston has already registered four sacks in his first four games. Marcus Peters, the All-Pro left cornerback, is a close second.
The biggest weakness for the Chiefs’ defense right now would likely be at the “Mike” inside linebacker position next to Derrick Johnson. Ramik Wilson started the year at the spot but was recently replaced by Reggie Ragland, who is still getting acclimated to the Chiefs’ system. Many would have regarded right cornerback Terrance Mitchell as the weakness at the beginning of the season, but he’s coming off one of the better games of his career against the Redskins.
It’s also worth noting that starting right outside linebacker Dee Ford missed last game with a back injury and has not practiced this week, so Frank Zombo should start in his place.
3. If Alex Smith keeps playing like this for the rest of the season, what do you expect the Chiefs to do when free agency rolls around? Do they sit Pat Mahomes for another year in 2018, or do they flip Smith for picks?
If Alex Smith continues to play like this, the Chiefs are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl. If that happens, I believe it would be very difficult for the Chiefs to move on this year.
I have always said that in order for Smith to stay, he would at least need to take the next step (the Chiefs have had back-to-back divisional round exits), so that would mean making the AFC Championship GAme.
So it all depends. I would not rule out Mahomes sitting for one more year based upon what I’ve seen thus far.
4. What is your realistic expectation for how this Chiefs’ season will end up?
The AFC is wide open, and that’s a great thing for the Houston Texans as well. A couple teams I thought would be really good have not been—namely the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens—and that means it’s anyone’s game.
Realistically, I think the Chiefs can make it to the AFC title game. If it’s at Arrowhead, despite last year’s playoff loss there, I think they could make it to the Super Bowl.
I do think it’s still very hard to say just four games in the season.
5. Give me a score for this game. Who wins and why?
Texans 28, Chiefs 24.
While I'd like to pick the Kansas City Chiefs, I think traveling to and winning in Houston on Sunday night will be too tall of a task, especially given all the recent offensive line woes.
As of earlier this week, Andy Reid couldn't even confirm who would start at right guard. Whether that's true or just gamesmanship, it's never a good sign when the line is this up in the air against the likes of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
The Chiefs also have to figure out how to stop rookie Deshaun Watson, who put on a 57-point clinic against Dick Lebeau and the Titans last week.
For the Arrowhead Prideheads, I hope I’m wrong. But I see an end to the undefeated streak on Sunday night.
A big thank you to Peter for stopping by. You can read all of his and others’ excellent work on all-things Chiefs over at Arrowhead Pride.