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Bye Week Review: Chiefs Remain Atop AFC West Division

Posted Nov 8, 2017

The Chiefs have a two-game lead in the division after nine weeks

The Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) currently sit as one of just three AFC teams to have at least six wins on the season. The New England Patriots (6-2) and Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2), who each had their bye weeks this past weekend, are the other two.


The Chiefs, who still lead the AFC West division over the Oakland Raiders (4-5), Denver Broncos (3-5) and Los Angeles Chargers (3-5), will have their bye this weekend.

“We’ll go back and evaluate and see what needs tweaking here and there, but it’ll be good for our players to get away,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said on Monday. “I gave them this week off, step back, get away and heal up a little bit. We’ve had a pretty good schedule up to this point and really have maximized them up to this point.

“The effort has been there, but sometimes it’s good to step back.”

The Chiefs have been tested already this season. The combined records of the nine teams the Chiefs have played is 42-32, which ranks as one of the toughest schedules for any team in the league up to this point.

Two of the Chiefs losses—the Steelers and Raiders—were by a combined seven points.

And despite dropping three of the last four games, Reid has seen flashes the last two weeks of the team that went out and beat the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles earlier this season—two teams considered among the best in football.

“I’ve seen it the last couple of games here where both sides were playing well at the same time, and when we do that, we’re a tough team to stop,” Reid explained. “So, we’ve got to continue to do that and if you get beat on a play, it doesn’t matter what side of the ball you’re on, or special teams—doesn’t matter, you step back up and you challenge again. That’s what you do.

“We’ve got to get back to doing that better—both sides of the ball. And then that’s my responsibility that we do that.”

The Chiefs’ defense has already faced four of the top seven offenses in the Eagles (No. 2), Texans (No. 3), Cowboys (No. 4) and Patriots (No. 7), and besides the Texans, who put up 34 points in that game, the Chiefs held the other three offenses to below their season averages in terms of average points per game.

And on the other side of the ball, the Chiefs’ offense currently ranks fifth in the league by averaging 28.1 points per game, which is actually No. 2 in the AFC behind the Texans (28.6 ppg).

Led by quarterback Alex Smith, who is off to the best start of his 13-year NFL career and leads the league in quarterback rating (113.9), yards per attempt (8.34), and who ranks second in passing yards (2,444) and third in touchdowns (18), the Chiefs offense leads the league by averaging 6.22 yards per play.

Smith is on pace to break most of his individual career-bests.

Despite a couple of quieter games recently from a stats standpoint, Chiefs’ rookie running back Kareem Hunt still leads the league with 800 yards rushing.

“I don’t feel like they’ve adjusted,” Chiefs’ assistant head coach Brad Childress said this week of teams planning for Hunt after his strong start. “I think we’ve been more of our own worst enemies in terms of being able to spring him to the next level. He’s doing a good job. When you get in the game, when you get behind, he doesn’t get as many touches, he doesn’t get as many turns.

“I think he’s obviously a better back when he gets more reps and turns. You kind of get left-handed a little bit when you get behind and you hate when that happens, but you have to go a different direction.”

On the outside, tight end Travis Kelce leads all NFL tight ends with 51 receptions for 629 yards and five touchdowns.

Overall, Kelce ranks fifth in the league in receiving yards, and he’s joined by Chiefs’ second-year receiver Tyreek Hill, who has 40 receptions for 617 yards and four touchdowns already this season. Hill ranks seventh in the league in receiving yards.

Kelce and Hill are the only set of teammates who rank among the top 16 in the league in receiving yards.

After last Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, Hill, who had a miraculous 57-yard touchdown to close out the first half, spoke about the upcoming bye week.

“Coach Reid basically said get away from football, clear your mind, clear your head and just relax. Come back and everybody be ready to work—all out,” Hill recalled.

Hill’s electric touchdown late in the first half against the Cowboys was the fourth 50-plus-yard touchdown of his season, and as ridiculous as it sounds, it was just the ninth-longest touchdown of his 25-game career. He’s averaging 49.29 yards per play on his 17 touchdowns.

Hill also spoke about the mindset of a team that seems to have underperformed the last few games.

“We just think about all the hard work that we’ve put in from training camp, from OTAs, starting from last year, and continue to do the little things and trust the process and we’ll be alright,” Hill added.

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