Andy Reid’s Chiefs Still Seeking Signature Victory


The Kansas City Chiefs are much improved under head coach Andy Reid but the team still has a long way to go before it can be considered one of the NFL’s best.

The Kansas City Chiefs, under Andy Reid, are still not considered one of the NFL’s elite teams. They’re simply not in that conversation.

This might sound elementary, given that we are talking about a 2-3 team but the Chiefs, save a head-scratching loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, at home, have actually played pretty well this season.

Andy Reid’s team can be forgiven for the opening day loss to Tennessee. Week 1 is alway treacherous territory. The start of the season brings new coaches, personnel and play wrinkles that even the playing field and close gaps that will open up as the season marches on. The Chiefs should have won that game but as we are about to see, “should” is an excuse for the NFL’s also-rans, not the league’s perennial playoff and championship contenders.

Andy Reid’s Chiefs are an excellently coached football team. The steady leadership of Alex Smith and the consistent execution of his supporting cast was enough to turn KC’s fortunes around in 2013. Despite Reid’s rookie season in KC being an 11-win affair, there was one big hurdle that the 2014 team has yet to demonstrate it can clear.

Beat the NFL’s best.

Since Reid took over, the Chiefs haven’t defeated a single NFL team that was playing quality football at the time KC played them.

In 2013, the Chiefs started the season 9-0, knocking off the the Jaguars, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Titans, Raiders, Texans, Browns and Bills. KC faced a smorgasbord of terrible QBs during that span. Of those teams, only the Eagles finished above .500 and made the playoffs but when the Chiefs faced Philly, Michael Vick was still starting at QB.

Chiefs fans were angry that their team wasn’t getting any respect, despite having the NFL’s best record. The reality of the situation was that the Chiefs didn’t have a single impressive victory on their resume. When a team is as bad as the Chiefs had been in recent years, it was going to take a signature victory to turn the haters into believers. They’d have multiple opportunities to prove themselves in the second half of the season, with games against the Denver Broncos, surging San Diego Chargers and playoff-bound Indianapolis Colts.

That victory never came.

The Chiefs finished the second half of the season 2-5. KC got handled by Peyton Manning and the Broncos twice in three weeks, effectively losing itself the AFC West crown. The Chiefs then lost a shootout to the Chargers and played an absolutely lifeless game against the Colts.

After winning two straight in its final cupcake games against absolutely horrid Raiders and Redskins teams, I wrote right here on AA that the Chiefs might not win another game. My reasoning was that KC’s defense had looked terrible since their BYE Week and I wasn’t sure it would be able to stand up against teams with competent QBs.

Here were some of the reader reactions to that article:

"It’s time for ALL of us to start having some swagger…. Chiefs may not win another game??The Chiefs won’t lose another game.It’s Super Bowl time…"

"So what the defense wasn’t “elite” Sunday, the offense took up the slack. There have been doubters this whole season and pessimistic a-holes will continue to try to find faults in KC. But i challenge you to find a perfect team…you won’t! So stop trying to tear our team down!"

"There is a big difference in pointing out flaws and saying the team that you are supposedly a fan of might not win another game, an 11-3 team, btw…. I have never seen such negativity from a supposedly fanbase in my life! AS11 will lead you where you (or a real fan at least) want to go. Have some faith, PattyCake!!"

This one is my favorite:

"You are way off base. KC has outscored their opponents by 144 points this season. Indy has outscored their opponents by 19 points. The Colts are total garbage. Houston will be back for the SD game and Rivers will not be effective just like he wasn’t before Hali and Houston were both out for the game."

We all know what happened, of course. The Chiefs would go on to lose to the Colts twice, once in the regular season and then again in the playoffs.

Hey, but I’m not here to gloat. (Ok, maybe a little.)

Look, I didn’t want the Chiefs to lose the rest of their games. The fact is, the signs were there and as fans, many of us chose to willingly ignore them or to make excuses to convince ourselves otherwise.

I hoped I was wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t.

This brings us to the excuses. There were plenty. The loss was on Bob Sutton. KC would have won if Jamaal Charles hadn’t gotten injured. And if Knile Davis hadn’t gotten injured, too.

Excuses aside, the Chiefs didn’t get it done. Not against the Colts (twice) or the Broncos (twice) or the Chargers (twice).

This season it is more of the same for Reid’s Chiefs. After stumbling out of the gate, Kansas City had a chance to go to Denver and knock off the Broncos. They played well, much better than expected following the loss to the Titans but still, the Chiefs didn’t come through.

KC had another chance to get that signature victory just two weeks ago. The Chiefs traveled out to San Francisco so their QB, Alex Smith, could exact revenge on the team that sent him packing in favor of Colin Kaepernick. Again, the Chiefs played well and Smith even had the ball in his hands in the final minutes with a chance to win the game in dramatic fashion.

He threw an interception.

As of this writing, the best win of the Andy Reid era in Kansas City was a few weeks ago when the Chiefs curb-stomped Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in front of the world on Monday Night Football.

On paper, that sounds great but in reality, the Patriots were a team with serious problems. New England entered that game playing absolutely terrible football. Yes, the Patriots are 5-2 but four of its wins came against awful opponents in the Vikings, Raiders, Bills and Jets. New England’s only quality win of the season was to the Cincinnati Bengals, after hitting rock bottom against the Chiefs.  At the end of the season, we might be able to say the Patriots are a good team but it would be a stretch to call KC’s victory over the then-reeling Pats a “signature win.”

I’m not saying the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t a good football team. I think they are. I’m not saying the 2014 Chiefs aren’t better than their 2013 counterparts. I think they are. I’m not even saying the 2014 Chiefs aren’t going to make the playoffs. I think they can.

What I am saying is, if the Chiefs want to be considered one of the best teams in the NFL, at some point, they’re going to have to actually beat one of the best teams in the NFL.

The Chiefs have yet another chance to get that elusive signature win this Sunday when they travel to San Diego to take on the red-hot Chargers. No QB in the NFL is playing better than Philip Rivers. A win Sunday would not only turn some heads, it could just turn the Chiefs’ season around.

If KC wins Sunday, it will be 3-3 heading into winnable matchups against the Rams, Jets and Bills. That would make the Chiefs 6-3 when the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks pay a visit to Arrowhead on Nov. 16. Two weeks later, the Chiefs will get their fourth crack at Peyton Manning under Andy Reid.

But one signature win at a time.

If the Chiefs are going to take the next step as a franchise, it needs to start this Sunday in San Diego.