Thanks to running back Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs' offense continues to hum along. But what happens if Charles isn't scoring touchdowns?
Too much Charles, Part I: Running back Jamaal Charles supplied 128 of the Chiefs’ 216 yards and both of their offensive touchdowns. Otherwise, the Chiefs produced next to nothing offensively, a troubling development for a team trying to identify reliable offensive threats in addition to Charles. The Chiefs had trouble handling the Oakland defensive front, the result being consistent pressure on quarterback Alex Smith. He completed just 14-of-31 for 128 yards, and his season completion percentage slipped to a feeble 56.5. Smith hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in the past two weeks. The Chiefs can survive with such meager offensive production as long as their defense continues to strangle opponents. If the day comes when the defense collapses, the Chiefs appear headed for trouble.
Too much Charles, Part II: Another offensive failure has been the inability of rookie RB Knile Davis or RB Cyrus Gray to develop into players who can produce while Charles gets some rest. Davis was in for one snap against Oakland and fumbled after catching a short pass. The Chiefs are understandably fearful of using Davis; given his fumbles, lining up in the wrong place, and running the wrong play, he is completely unreliable. Gray didn’t play at all on offense. He isn’t as much of a threat as Charles, particularly in the running game. But Gray is a dependable receiver and solid pass protector who should get a few snaps in the hopes of preserving Charles for an entire season.
Catching Houston: The team sack race appeared over after three games when one outside linebacker, Justin Houston, had 7.5 sacks while the other, Tamba Hali, had just 1. But Hali, after sacking Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor 3.5 times on Sunday, is within range of Houston. Houston has 9.5 sacks, which is tied for the NFL lead with Robert Mathis of Indianapolis. Hali is fourth at 7.5. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 31 sacks.
Winning the turnover battle: The Chiefs forced three turnovers and the Raiders one, leaving the Chiefs at plus-12 in turnover differential for the season. Don’t overlook the importance of that statistic in the Chiefs' 6-0 record. The Chiefs and the sluggish offense have benefited from favorable field position several times this season, while the defense has rarely been put in bad spots. The Chiefs have won the turnover battle in every game except against the New York Giants, in which both teams turned the ball over three times.