Monday Night Football: Are Unbeaten Chiefs Roger Goodell’s Perfect NFL Team?

The NFL’s last unbeaten team in 2017 is a franchise with one playoff victory since January 8 1994.

The Kansas City Chiefs maintained stayed perfect on Monday night when Alex Smith calmly took his offense for a late field goal to see off the talented but error-riddled Washington Redskins.

CBS put it neatly in its post-game wrap-up: “The Patriots’ defense stinks, the Seahawks’ offensive line is a catastrophe, the Packers always need their quarterback to perform like a god, the Falcons have been playing down to their level of competition… the Chiefs have been the lone exception.”

In a league where all the supposedly elite teams have at least one major flaw, the Chiefs have reached 4-0 by doing everything pretty well.

The receivers, led by Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, are excellent. The defense, when fully healthy, can be great. Special teams, and in particular the return game again led by Hill, are dangerous. The quarterback, as he showed on Monday night, is rarely less than good.

They get good coaching—outside of the playoffs at least—from Andy Reid and Bob Sutton, one of the NFL’s sharpest defensive minds. The running game now looks borderline elite with the emergence of Kareem Hunt.

But it is the absence of major mistakes that is allowing the Chiefs to win tight games. The Redskins, with an inarguably more talented quarterback in Kirk Cousins and a talented defense, tripped themselves up on Monday with penalties—head coach Jay Gruden admitted as such. The week before, Philip Rivers threw three interceptions at StubHub Center, while Smith did not turn the ball over. The Chargers—and the Redskins, for that matter—can seem like the reverse of Reid’s group, repeatedly finding ways to lose.

That a mid-market, fiscally prurient franchise—outside linebacker Justin Houston carries the heaviest cap hit this season at $22.1 million—can lead the NFL will please the league’s powerbrokers, including Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Good drafting means key offensive players like Hill and Hunt are on comparatively tiny contracts, allowing money to be spent on the defense and Smith. Even then, Smith will earn the 15th-highest salary of all franchise quarterbacks this season, at $16.9 million. That’s less than the injured Sam Bradford, Eli Manning, Rivers and Carson Palmer, whose vast deal looks a weight around the Cardinals’ neck. Kelce, locked in through 2021, is surely on one of the NFL’s best contracts. The tight end will make $5,418,400 this season according to SpotRac .

But it seems a good bet that despite all that the Chiefs will come unstuck in the playoffs, possibly in the AFC Championship game against the Steelers. At this rate, the Patriots could also lurk as a nasty wild-card team. Still, they may be showing the league’s rich, talent-stocked and underperforming franchises a safer, more solid way forward in the strange, topsy-turvy world of the NFL in 2017.

Join the Discussion