The Kansas City Chiefs are 1-10 and inching closer and closer to securing the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. It’s an unlucky year to have the No. 1 overall selection as most people believe there is no franchise-altering quarterback available. There is no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, and that’s exactly what the Chiefs need.
In Week 13 the Chiefs host Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Newton was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011, but he’s been unable to turn around his franchise and the Panthers are 3-8 this season after going 6-10 last season.
Primary Talking Point for Week 13
The Chiefs are playing better football in recent weeks, but better play hasn’t translated to wins. If things continue to progress, the Chiefs could actually generate another win before the end of the season.
To win another game, the team is going to have to get more production from its quarterback. The Chiefs’ problems on offense have come down to quarterback play all season, and things haven’t changed in that regard.
Brady Quinn didn’t make any major mistakes against the Broncos, but the offense also didn’t generate any touchdowns either. Quinn only had 126 yards passing, and that’s not going to get the job done in the NFL. Quinn has to trust himself and his receivers to get the passing game on track instead of always taking the short completion, and that needs to start soon.
The Chiefs' best chance at winning another game comes over the next three weeks with three opponents that have three or fewer wins.
Win or lose, the Chiefs need something positive to springboard into 2013. A couple wins followed by organization changes and a high draft pick could help the Chiefs turn it around quickly next season.
Left tackle Branden Albert missed Week 12 with a back injury, and his status for Week 13 is unknown. The Chiefs’ offensive line has been able to produce despite multiple injuries. Ryan Lilja, Jeff Allen and Jon Asamoah have had injuries over the past few weeks.
Dexter McCluster and Kendrick Lewis were injured against the Broncos. According to Reid Ferrin, the team’s official website insider, McCluster is undergoing evaluations for a head injury (concussion) and Lewis is getting an MRI on his shoulder.
Lewis missed the first five games of the season with a shoulder injury that also limited him throughout training camp. Abe Elam would take over at safety if Lewis misses time. Terrance Copper, Jamar Newsome or Steve Breaston would see additional playing time if McCluster is not able to get clearance to play in Week 13
Player on the Rise
Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki were singled out last week and had good games in Week 12. Moeaki was targeted just twice, but caught both passes. The Chiefs need to figure out how to get Moeaki more involved in the passing game. Berry wasn’t great in coverage, but he made up for it with excellent run support in Week 13.
This week, rookie offensive tackle Donald Stephenson is on the rise. Stephenson was taken in the third round of the 2012 draft and has been pushed into the starting role the last two weeks. Although Stephenson was whistled for a couple of penalties, he kept Elvis Dumervil and the Denver pass rush in check. Stephenson’s run blocking also helped spring Jamaal Charles.
It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs do with Stephenson with both right and left tackle occupied by two very good players. Albert is a free agent at the end of the season, but he’s been so good it’s hard to imagine the Chiefs not trying to retain him.
Stat Trends – Offense
The Chiefs were just 3-of-14 on third downs, which dropped the team to just 37.1 percent on the season and from 14th to 19th in the NFL in that statistic. Quinn’s 13-for-25 passing performance also dropped the Chiefs' completion percentage to 57.9 on the season and down two spots in the NFL rankings.
It’s hard to imagine that the offense is still getting worse, but that is the case. The Chiefs didn’t improve in any statistical category used for these weekly progress reports. Part of the problem is that the Chiefs are last in five of the 13 categories and are significantly worse than the 31st-ranked teams in those categories.
The Chiefs' greatest opportunity for improvement is completing more passes, converting more third downs and gaining more total yards. These three areas are all heavily linked to the production of the passing game.
Stat Trends – Defense
The defense played a solid game against the Broncos, but couldn’t overcome an anemic offense. The stats do reflect some of the positive development’s from Week 12.
The Chiefs allowed only 95 yards rushing and no touchdowns on the ground and held the Broncos to under four yards per carry. On average, the Chiefs' run defense rankings improved by about two spots, and with a couple more solid performances they could climb out of the bottom-third of the league against the run.
The pass defense was at least able to hold its ground against Peyton Manning and didn’t lose any ground in the rankings on average. That’s an accomplishment, because the Broncos have been able to score so easily and readily this season.
The Chiefs still managed to move down in the rankings despite already being ranked near the bottom and playing a better game. There are 26 statistical categories used for this weekly progress report, and the Chiefs moved down in nine categories and up in five while losing a total of 10 spots across all the statistics.
There’s something to be said for having played a better game against a quality opponent in Week 12, but until the Chiefs score a few touchdowns it’s really hard to believe that this team can make a late-season surge.