KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs defense has been an immovable object through three games.
Any semblance of skepticism existing after a dominating Week One performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars has been replaced with belief.
Two straight stout performances against the potent offenses of the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles will do that.
Through Week Three, the Chiefs have 15 sacks. They had 27 on the season in 2012.
Through Week Three, the Chiefs have surrendered 34 total points to rank tied for second in the league (11.3 points allowed per game) with the New England Patriots. At this point in 2012, the Chiefs surrendered 99 points.
Despite the progress, coach Andy Reid believes there remains areas to improve.
“We’re early in this season; we’re only in the third game here, we just finished that up,” Reid said during Friday’s media conference call following the Thursday night win. “We have a lot of season ahead of us and it’s important that we keep getting better. There’s room to improve here and we can’t lose focus of that.”
Still, the turnaround has been remarkable on all fronts.
With quarterback Alex Smith at the helm, the Chiefs have yet to commit a turnover on offense, leading the league with a plus-9 in that category. The team’s nine takeaways rank fourth in the league.
After Week Three’s win, the Chiefs are the fifth team in league history to start 3-0 following a season with 14 or more losses.
Reid became the first coach in team history to start 3-0 in his first season with the club.
With a win on Sunday against the visiting New York Giants (0-3), the Chiefs will become the second team in NFL history to start 4-0 following a season with at least 14 losses.
PREVIOUS SEASON RECORD
And with a struggling Giants team coming off a 38-0 thrashing on tap, the Chiefs could very well continue the run.
Tale of the tape
• The Chiefs currently rank 11th in rushing (127 yards per game) and 27th in passing (206 yards per game).
• The Giants rank 32nd in rushing (44.3yards per game) and sixth in passing (290.3 yards per game).
• The Chiefs rank 25th against the run (124 yards allowed per game) and fifth against the pass (185 allowed per game).
• The Giants rank 27th against the run (129.3 yards allowed per game) and 17th against the pass (253 yards allowed per game).
The last time
The Giants defeated the Chiefs, 27-16, at Arrowhead Stadium in October 2009. Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 20-of-34 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Two of Manning’s touchdown passes went to former Giants wide receiver Steve Smith, who finished with 11 catches for 134 yards.
New York has won four straight games against the Chiefs, who last defeated the Giants, 20-17, at Arrowhead Stadium in September 1995.
The Giants lead the all-time series, 10-2.
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston has 7 ½ sacks through three games, tied for second-most in NFL in first three games of the season since 1982.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning has been sacked 11 times on the season, including seven in Week Three.
With two sacks in Week 4, Houston, the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week, will have the most sacks through the first four weeks of a season in NFL history.
There’s a good chance he’ll get there, evidenced by a statistic ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher tweeted.
2) Of J. Houston’s 7.5 sacks, 6.5 have come from left side of KC defense. Of 11 sacks allowed by Giants, 8 have come from left side of D
— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) September 26, 2013
And as ArrowheadPride.com points out, Giants offensive tackle Justin Pugh is the third straight rookie Houston will face.
“He’s obviously off to a great start and his game against Philadelphia was just outstanding,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Houston during Wednesday’s media conference call. “Protection certainly has to be aware of where he is at all times and be in position if need be that you have to help, that’s first and foremost.”
But given the defenders the Chiefs can throw at the quarterback, Coughlin knows the protection has to account for more than just Houston.
“He presents an outstanding defensive player,” Coughlin said. “But in my experience if you get too carried away trying to defend or protect against one, you going to get bit in the tail somewhere else along the line because they do have many outstanding players.”
The Chiefs may be undefeated, but they’re not resting on current success.
To a man, the players in the locker room throughout the week mentioned how dangerous the Giants can be.
And cornerback Sean Smith is aware Giants quarterback Eli Manning can hurt them.
“Guys have to focus on themselves and do your jobs,” Smith said during Monday’s media locker room session. “For me, I know I have to keep tight coverage because I definitely think he’s an elite quarterback in the NFL who is capable of putting the ball in position and he’s definitely an accurate quarterback. When I’m out there I’m just trying to do my job and get as tight as possible to my guy.”
Rookie defensive lineman Mike Catapano, a native of Bayville, N.Y., said during Wednesday’s media locker room session he’s watched the Giants “for a while” and cautioned against overlooking them.
“You just take anything lightly,” Catapano said. “You’ve got to be ready every week. You’ve got to focus on yourself more than anything else and what you can do to get ready for this team and what you can do to prepare for this team because we’re anticipating that they’re going to come out like they’re Super Bowl contenders like usual.”
Asked on Friday if coach Andy Reid had a message this week for the team about Sunday’s opponent, linebacker Akeem Jordan made it clear he and his teammates are on the same page.
“Their record doesn’t mean they’re not a good team,” Jordan said. “They have explosive players. (He just said to) not overlook them because of what their record says. They’re still a good team.”
Chiefs starting cornerback Brandon Flowers, who suffered a knee injury in Week Three, was observed participating in warm-up conditioning drills during the Thursday and Friday portion of practice open to the media.
However, his status for Sunday is a concern considering he did not practice on Wednesday, was limited on Thursday and is officially listed as not practicing on Friday.
“With the injury guys, we’ll see how it works out and how they handle things when they get up tomorrow (Saturday),” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during his Friday post-practice media session.
The Chiefs officially list Flowers as questionable on Friday’s NFL Injury Report.
Cornerbacks Dunta Robinson, Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker are behind starters Sean Smith and Flowers on the depth chart.
A total of 76,962 fans filled Arrowhead Stadium in Week Two, marking the largest crowd at Arrowhead since 77,368 filled the stands on Nov. 11, 2007.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid mentioned during his Week Two postgame presser the ground shook from the crowd.
And he’s expecting the same on Sunday.
“We look forward to bringing people into Arrowhead,” Reid said. “It is a great atmosphere for a football game and our fans, they do bring it. I wouldn’t expect anything less this week. I know our players feed off of that which is a big thing, too. We look forward to that.”
Chiefs veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson on what’s it’s like to play in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme:
“I can tell you I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had on a defense in a Bob Sutton defense,” Johnson said.
Chiefs rookie linebacker Nico Johnson, who played at NCAA powerhouse Alabama, on the Arrowhead Stadium experience:
“Oh man, it’s the closest thing to a college atmosphere,” he said. “I’d probably have to say it’s like a college atmosphere.”
NFL columnist Bob Glauber of Newsday tweeted this on Wednesday:
Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul on facing the Chiefs: “I’m pretty sure that we’ll get the job done this week.”
— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) September 25, 2013
Take a rising team on a hot streak against a struggling team and Sunday’s matchup has the makings of a trap game.
The Giants have a history of turning it around, a fact Chiefs coach Andy Reid is familiar with from his NFC East experience.
“I’ve seen when they’ve been down; I’ve seen them come back,” Reid said on Monday. “They’ve got enough history there. They’ve got a great coach, a great quarterback, defensive line, they’ve got all of these elements there and it’s never as bad as you think, never as good as you think in the NFL.”
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston echoed Reid’s thoughts.
“We know the years they won the championship they got off to a slow start, but they can explode any minute,” Houston said. “We just have to continue to get better and do our jobs.”
Still, the Giants have looked horrendous, especially in Week Three’s shutout loss against the Carolina Panthers where the offense netted 150 total yards.
And the Chiefs proved in Week One they can do what good teams are supposed to do against bad teams.
Look for a repeat on Sunday.
Outcome: Chiefs 24, Giants 14
Friday’s official NFL Injury Report, as released by the league:
Kansas City Chiefs
Out: TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Questionable: G Jeff Allen (groin), TE Anthony Fasano (ankle, knee), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Probable: T Branden Albert (shoulder), DL Mike DeVito (neck), FB Anthony Sherman (knee), LB Frank Zombo (elbow)
Did not practice
Wednesday: G Jeff Allen (groin), TE Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), TE Travis Kelce (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Thursday: G Jeff Allen (groin), TE Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee), TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Friday: CB Brandon Flowers (knee), TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Wednesday: T Branden Albert (shoulder), DL Mike DeVito (neck)
Thursday: T Branden Albert (shoulder), DL Mike DeVito (neck), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Friday: G Jeff Allen (groin), TE Anthony Fasano (ankle, knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Wednesday: FB Anthony Sherman (knee), LB Frank Zombo (elbow)
Thursday: FB Anthony Sherman (knee), LB Frank Zombo (elbow)
Friday: T Branden Albert (shoulder), DL Mike DeVito (neck), FB Anthony Sherman (knee), LB Frank Zombo (elbow)
New York Giants
Out: C David Bass (neck), TE Adrien Robinson (foot), G Chris Snee (hip), CB Corey Webster (hip)
Doubtful: T David Diehl (thumb)
Questionable: S Cooper Taylor (shoulder), LB Jacquian Williams (knee)
Probable: LB Spencer Paysinger (hip), CB Terrell Thomas (knee), DE Justin Trattou (ankle)
Did not practice
Wednesday: C David Baas (neck), TE Adrien Robinson (foot), G Chris Snee (hip), CB Corey Webster (hip), LB Jacquian Williams (knee)
Thursday: C David Baas (neck), TE Adrien Robinson (foot), G Chris Snee (hip), CB Terrell Thomas (knee), DE Justin Trattou (ankle), CB Corey Webster (hip), LB Jacquian Williams (knee)
Friday: C David Baas (neck), TE Adrien Robinson (foot), G Chris Snee (hip), CB Corey Webster (hip)
Wednesday: T David Diehl (thumb), LB Spencer Paysinger (hip), S Cooper Taylor (shoulder), CB Terrell Thomas (knee)
Thursday: T David Diehl (thumb), LB Spencer Paysinger (hip), S Cooper Taylor (shoulder)
Friday: T David Diehl (thumb), LB Spencer Paysinger (hip), S Cooper Taylor (shoulder), CB Terrell Thomas (knee), DE Justin Trattou (ankle), LB Jacquian Williams (knee)