Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs face a tough test Monday night against Washington in their bid to remain the NFL’s only unbeaten team. Even if they do become 4-0, that achievement would come with limited value during a long season.
Yet there’s no question that Smith, the former University of Utah quarterback, is off to the best start of his 13-year NFL career. The Chiefs look like Super Bowl contenders as of early October, considering their impressive win over New England and how nobody else in the AFC is playing consistently well.
Kansas City has been a solid team in the five seasons that coach Andy Reid and Smith have been together, but the Chiefs have won only one playoff game. When they lost to Pittsburgh in the divisional round in January, I suggested that was Smith’s “last, best chance” ever to become a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl.
That statement might be wrong. Everything could change Monday — that’s the nature of the NFL — but Smith’s offense has been very productive through three games. Just look at his numbers:
In the showcase season opener at New England, he completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns.
Against Philadelphia, he went 21 of 28 for 251 yards and a touchdown.
Facing the Los Angeles Chargers on the road, he was 16 of 21 for 155 yards and two scores. He’s completing 77.4 percent of his passes, and they haven’t all been short tosses. The Chiefs have a nine-streak with a touchdown play of 50-plus yards.
“When you get something downfield and you get an opportunity, you have to strike,” Smith said in a news conference last week.
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt has made Kansas City more explosive. BYU fans should remember Hunt, who totaled 195 yards of rushing and receiving in Toledo’s 55-53 loss to the Cougars last season. He has been a big surprise for the Chiefs as a third-round draft pick.
Now comes Washington’s defense, which shut down Oakland last week. If the Chiefs have more offensive success Monday, they’ll further establish themselves as one of the NFL’s top groups at the one-fourth mark of the season.