Can the Kansas City Chiefs Really Run the Table?
The Kansas City Chiefs won't go undefeated this season.
As the NFL's last unbeaten team standing, Andy Reid's squad has gotten to 7-0 with downright smothering defensive, an efficient running game and fine game-managing play from quarterback Alex Smith.
With just over half the schedule remaining, let's look at the Chiefs' chances to emerge victorious in their final nine games.
Week 8: vs. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have a sound defense, but they just cannot be efficient on offense running or passing the football.
Brian Hoyer looked to be the perfect operator of Norv Turner's attack, but since he tore his ACL, Brandon Weeden has been his typical inconsistent self.
The 2012 first-round pick entered in the first quarter of Week 5's win over the Buffalo Bills and has completed 56 of 109 pass attempts (51.3 percent) for 638 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
He's been sacked 10 times during that stretch.
The Chiefs should be able to impose their will on the Browns offense, though Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron have emerged as legitimately intimidating pass-catching options.
This may be somewhat of a defensive battle, but Kansas City is clearly the better overall team.
Chances of victory: 75%
Week 9: At Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are young with some noticeable flaws and are dealing with an injury to their rookie first-round quarterback EJ Manuel, but they've been surprisingly competitive thus far in 2013.
Mike Pettine has amped up the pressure on defense, and it's paid dividends after an abysmal season in 2012 under Dave Wannstedt.
After Week 7's action, Buffalo is fourth in the NFL with 23 sacks. The Bills are led by Mario Williams, who has 10 quarterback takedowns.
Though Manuel likely won't play in this one against the Chiefs—former practice squad player Thad Lewis should be the starter—the Bills are relatively healthy after beginning the year with an injury-ravaged secondary.
This game could be similar to the Chiefs' outing against the Browns. Chances are, neither team will light up the scoreboard offensively, and the defensive lines will dominate.
The fact that this contest is on the road will make it a bit more difficult for Kansas City.
Chances of victory: 65%
Week 11: At Denver Broncos
The Chiefs will pose a formidable threat to Peyton Manning, as Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are among the league leaders in sacks and Denver's offensive tackles were exposed a bit in the loss to the Colts.
Will Kansas City be able to hold the Broncos under 30 points at home?
That's only happened once during Manning's tenure in Denver—Week 3 of the 2012 season against the Houston Texans.
Even if Dontari Poe, Derrick Johnson and Co. hold the Broncos to 27 points, can an Alex Smith-led offense score four touchdowns?
A special teams or defensive touchdown will likely be needed for the Chiefs to pull off what would be a colossal road win.
Chances of victory: 35%
Week 12: vs. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers has returned to form under head coach Mike McCoy this season. He's second in passing yards and quarterback rating only to Peyton Manning. He leads the league with a completion percentage of 73.9.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Rivers releases the ball 2.37 seconds after receiving the snap on average, the fifth-fastest average in the NFL.
San Diego will likely utilize the quick passing game to neutralize Kansas City's stellar pass-rushing.
However, the Chiefs should be able to move the ball consistently on San Diego's defense, a unit that's allowed the seventh-most passing yards per game this year.
With the way Rivers is playing and a Chargers defense that's surrendered 4.8 yards per carry to the opponent this year, this game has sneaky shootout potential.
At home, the Chiefs should win.
Chances of victory: 65%
Week 13: vs. Denver Broncos
The boisterous Arrowhead Stadium crowd will have a major impact on this pivotal AFC West showdown.
Peyton Manning has played in an abundance of tough road games, but this will be among the most hostile environments.
The teams will have learned a great deal about each other from their Week 11 matchup, and the coaching staff that adjusts better for the second meeting in three weeks will emerge the victor.
Again, though, Smith will have to make a few huge throws to stay with Manning's super-powerful offense that will put points on the board.
Chances of victory: 55%
Week 14: At Washington Redskins
Sophomore Robert Griffin III has slowly but surely become Freshman Robert Griffin III over the last few weeks.
He accounted for 382 total yards in a 45-41 win against the injury-decimated Chicago Bears in Week 7. Scoring 45 points is a fine accomplishment against any team.
While Washington's dynamic quarterback may be hitting his stride, its defense is atrocious.
It's allowing 389 yards per game—which isn't terrible—but opposing quarterbacks are averaging a 102.1 rating when facing the Redskins.
Look for some offensive explosion in this road game for the Chiefs.
Chances of victory: 70%
Week 15: At Oakland Raiders
While Kansas City won't take down Pryor 10 times behind the line of scrimmage again, Oakland's offensive line won't be able to stop the Chiefs' constant defensive line pressure.
The Raiders defense is underrated, as it allows only 22 points and 340 yards per game.
Chances of victory: 85%
Week 16: vs. Indianapolis Colts
There's a fantastic chance that the Indianapolis Colts will be vying for a playoff spot or playoff positioning in this game, as will the Chiefs.
Andrew Luck is a budding superstar, and the Colts defense can play well in spurts.
Losing Reggie Wayne for the season will creating some growing pains in the Indianapolis offense. By this point, the Colts will have found their post-Wayne identity. But in Arrowhead Stadium, they'll have to play nearly a perfect game to leave with a victory.
While Indianapolis has its flaws, having a tremendous quarterback is the ultimate equalizer.
If the Chiefs can't get to Luck often and the game is close late, the Colts could squeak one out in the final minutes.
Chances of victory: 60%
Week 17: At San Diego Chargers
In all likelihood, this game will have some type of playoff implication—maybe for both teams.
At this point, Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown will have established themselves as one of the more dangerous young receiving tandems in the AFC.
We aren't quite sure how San Diego's defense will be, but the Chiefs shouldn't expect to be stymied in this one, even on the road.
If Kansas City can keep everything in front of them defensively and force a few field goals in the red zone, it should win the season finale.
Chances of victory: 70%