The Chiefs things I think (mid-season)

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At the mid-point of the Kansas City Chiefs’ season, the roller coaster is on the way up again. That’s saying something.

Now, 3-5 isn’t anything to get overly excited about, especially when the latest two wins came against very poor competition. Then again, any win streak is encouraging after a 1-6 start.

Returning from the bye to face the division leader is a tough way to start the second half. While some developments have definitely changed this team over eight games, some aspects remain exactly the same. Outside of week 10 in Denver, the second-half schedule is favorable. The matchup between Bob Sutton and his former boss Rex Ryan should be exciting.  That’s got me thinking, so here are my mid-season thoughts on the state of the Chiefs.

1. Smith has to lead

Oct 25, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) scrambles against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 23-13. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith’s confidence is on the rise and that could be enough to make this team a wildcard contender. As the line play has improved during the second quarter of the season, smith has settled down. Through 8 games he’s got a 3-to-1 TD to INT ratio. He’s moving the ball through the air and isn’t creating turnovers. He has talented targets and is using them. If the line can hold up, Smith should be able to gain steam as the season wears on. As the schedule stand, only the Broncos and Bills could shake Smith’s confidence. Since his contract keeps him in KC in 2016, that is a good direction to be heading in.

2. This defense isn’t fixed yet

Bob Sutton is going to end up on the hot seat. The defense has also seen a resurgence in the second quarter of the season. It culminated with the stomping of the Lions in London.  That game was a very good showing, but don’t let it fool you. The Lions are a bad team and a team in transition. Sutton found ways to create pressure with well–disguised blitzes, particularly with Derrick Johnson and Ron Parker.

Now that those looks are on film, Sutton will have to continue to find new ways to pressure quarterbacks. He has options he can utilize, but time and again Sutton has shown himself to be a creature of habit. If he reverts back to his basic four-man rush, veteran quarterbacks Manning, Rivers and Flacco will pick him apart. Again. When changes need to be made in the offseason, Sutton will be the prime candidate.

Next: Arrowhead advantage?