In recent years, the Denver Broncos have been overwhelming favorites to win the AFC West. That was more or less the case this year, and many NFL analysts who did not pick the Broncos instead picked the Oakland Raiders. Not many people were talking about the Kansas City Chiefs.
Well, the Chiefs beat the Raiders in Oakland, 26-10, this past Sunday.
Why does a team that has made the playoffs in two of the last three years always seem to get overlooked?
“Well, a market like Kansas City is a small market and we always get overlooked,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We’re used to that. We’re going to fly under the radar hopefully, but we know we’ll get as much attention as we need the more we win and the more division wins we get or (when we) get into the playoffs.”
Some coaches use point spreads and other outside naysayers to motivate their team. Andy Reid does not.
“He’s all about doing the little things right,” Johnson said. “It’s not a grey area with him. He lets us know when we’re not doing the right things, the little things right. The biggest thing with him is he wants to keep our confidence through the ups and downs. Andy Reid, he’s a proven winner in this league, and he treats us all like men. So even when we lose, it’s one of those things where he comes in and lets us know what we need to do better – and he expects it. He has a high standard for us. He definitely doesn’t use that tactic as far as we’re the underdogs. We know that as players. We look at certain things in the media, so we know that as players, but at the same time, we’re a very confident group.”
The Chiefs were embarrassed by the Steelers in Week 4, losing 43-14 in Pittsburgh. They rebounded well after the bye, however, holding the Raiders scoreless after halftime and controlling the clock offensively. Kansas City rushed 40 times for 183 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, as Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles could form the best one-two tailback punch in the AFC.
“We always have a chance when you got 2-5 in the game,” Johnson said of Charles, who is working his way back from a torn ACL. “He’s a big-run hitter. He’s a guy that’s probably not at 100 all the way yet, but Andy Reid is working him in. That’s one of them things where he’s going to be a big factor when it comes to the offense having success later in the year. I’m glad to see 2-5 out there doing his thing again.”
Ware and Charles combined to average 5.0 yards per carry against Oakland. It’s a no-nonsense offense with no-nonsense guys. The same can be said for Johnson and the defense, which, outside of the Pittsburgh debacle, is allowing just 14.8 points per game.
In other words, the Chiefs don’t have an Odell Beckham Jr. to worry about. But if they did, Johnson believes they could handle him.
“We got a lot of high-character guys – Alex Smith, Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali,” Johnson said. “If somebody is acting out like that on and off the field, we’ll put our arm around him and let him know, ‘Hey, we trust you, you know what you’re doing, but right now you’re hurting us a little bit and (you have) to clean it up.’ I think coming from somebody (that he) trusts, he will react on that. Odell is an emotional player so he can ignite that whole team in a good way, but sometimes it kind of backfires. I think you get more done through the players than the coaches because the players can relate to him better. I wouldn’t even say clean up a lot; clean up a little bit and still have that edge to you, but play within the lines of the game and rules of the game. It’s all about winning. The more you win, the less that distraction stuff will go on.”
The Chiefs (3-2) are seeking their third win in four games this Sunday. They host New Orleans (2-3) at 1 p.m. ET.