Through the first three games of the NFL season the Kansas City Chiefs are a surprising 3-0. Yes, the same team that was 2-14 a season ago. How did this happen you ask? Well you can first point to the most obvious changes. A new head coach in Andy Reid and an upgrade at quarterback trading for former 49er Alex Smith. You could also make a case that they are fully healthy for the first time, as two of their brightest stars are now in their second year of returning from ACL injuries (Running Back Jamaal Charles, Safety Eric Berry). But when you examine things closely, you will find the real answer for the Chiefs new found success. The Defense.
In games versus the Jaguars, Cowboys, and the Eagles the numbers speak for themselves. First in sacks, 15 total, with half of them coming from linebacker Justin Houston who is wreaking havoc on every play. Second in passes defended, first in interceptions returned for touchdowns, second in fumble recoveries, fourth in third down percentage, and No. 2 in scoring defense.
With the 0-3 New York Giants next on the menu, followed by the Titans and Raiders, it looks as if the beast will only grow stronger with mediocre victims to devour. All of the hype is well deserved which begs the comparison, will this defense become great in the mold of the 1969 Super Bowl Champion Chiefs squad? When mentioning the greatest defenses of all-time, somehow this group gets overlooked. Let's examine the facts:
1) The 1969 Chiefs defense led the AFL in just about every category:
Points per game against: 12.6, 1st in the AFL.
Yards per game against: 226, 1st in the AFL.
Additionally, the '69 Chiefs were equally great against the run and pass, holding opposing offenses to the fewest total passing yards and fewest total rushing yards, while also leading the league in turnovers.
2) Five Hall of Famers
Curley Culp (DT)
Buck Buchanan (DE)
Willie Lanier (MLB)
Bobby Bell (OLB)
Emmit Thomas (CB)
3) They were the best when it counted most.
In the divisional playoff, the Chiefs went on the road and stuffed Joe Namath and the defending Super Bowl champion Jets, holding them to just 6 points after averaging 25.2 per game for the season. Next in a trip to Oakland for the AFL title game, the Chiefs shut down the Raiders, the league's #1 offense (27.2 points per game), holding them to 7 points. And last, pounding the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in Super Bowl IV.
While few are ready to throw KC into the mix of Super Bowl contenders, keep in mind that according to NFL.com, they have the 28th toughest schedule in the league. So, doubt if you like, but we all may be singing "Hail to the Chiefs" come January.