Three pressing questions for a Chiefs team that has fewer questions all the time
Fun fact No. 1: You knew (and loathed) the fact that the Oakland Raiders are 6-0 over their last six visits to Kansas City, right? But did you know the Silver and Black have averaged 22 points per game at Arrowhead Stadium over that stretch?
Not anymore, pal. Not with Bob Sutton as sheriff. Fun fact No. 2: In his three seasons as defensive coordinator of the New York Jets (2006-’08), Sutton’s teams went 1-1 against Oakland, winning 23-3 in Jersey in ’06 and falling 16-13 in overtime down on the East Bay in ’08. That’s 16 points allowed over two games in regulation, and the cumulative offensive numbers for the Raiders aren’t exactly stellar: 32 completions on 56 attempts (57.1) passing, 241 rushing yards on 60 attempts (4.02 per carry), 31 first downs (15.5 per game), and four turnovers forced.
So, hey, another week, another round of fresh meat for the Red Swarm, the Crimson Sharknado. The Monday questions get a little less pressing (and a lot less uncomfortable) with each passing victory, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do …
CHIEFS 26, TITANS 17: THREE UNCOMFORTABLY PRESSING MONDAY QUESTIONS
:03 … Field goals are sweet and all, but when will the Chiefs’ red zone issues come back to bite them on the back side?
Coming away with only one touchdown to show for four red-zone trips Sunday didn’t sit well, but the Titans aren’t the Giants or Jaguars. Besides, the healthier way to look at it is like this: As long as a Chiefs drive is ending in some kind of kick — a punt, a field goal or an extra-point try — this bunch will be fine, long-term.
A better barometer, if you’re into new math and metrics, is calculating points scored per drive. The Chiefs got 26 points out of 13 drives in Nashville, or 2.0 per jaunt. That 2.0 mark is a pretty good number, and one to shoot for, as a minimum baseline. And the Local 22 are just about there, going into last weekend’s action averaging 1.92 points per drive over their first four contests.
Consider: Since 2009, 49 different NFL clubs have averaged 2.0 points per drive in the regular season, according to the website SportingCharts.com; those teams wound up winning, on average, 9.6 games between them. And a 10-6 record now seems like a pretty low bar, given The Andy Gang’s 5-0 start.
:02 … Should we be worried that Donnie Avery is banged up?
Well … maybe. A bit. The quick master of the short crossing route has been one of Smith’s favorite toys to play with, recording 30 targets through the first five tilts of the year — the most of any Chiefs wide receiver and second on the team to Jamaal Charles’ 44. The native Texan went into Week 5 averaging 8.7 yards after the catch, which, at the time, ranked 14th among all NFL pass-catchers with at least 10 receptions.
Chiefs fans got a scare against the Titans when the 6-foot former University of Houston star left the contest with what was later diagnosed as a bruised shoulder. The good news is that postgame X-rays were negative; the bad news is that his status is in doubt throughout at least the early part of this week.
:01 … 5-and-0, baby. Too early to get excited?
Oh, no. Hell, no. Dance ’til you drop. Since 1990, when the NFL playoff format expanded to include 12 teams, 90 percent of the squads (36 of 40) that opened a season 5-0 reached the playoffs. Plus, the Andy Gang is the first team in NFL history — that’s right, in the history of the league — to open 5-0 after losing 14 games or more the previous season.
If you didn’t believe in the magic before, get this — the Ryan Fitzpatrick monkey is finally off Kansas City’s collective back. And this week, the focus turns to removing an even bigger, more galling one: Snapping Oakland’s six-year dominance at Arrowhead. If there was ever a time, if there was ever a team, if there was ever a weekend, compadre, this would be it.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com