KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Coach Andy Reid by this point of the season expected the Kansas City Chiefs to have one of the NFL's most high-powered offensive teams. The Chiefs are indeed 9-0, but they are the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team heading into Sunday night's game against the 8-1 Broncos in Denver because of strong defense and special teams.
The offense has been along for the ride, mostly just good enough not to mess things up. The Chiefs can run the ball well with Jamaal Charles, are efficient in moving the chains and consuming the clock and commit few turnovers.
But the offense doesn't score many points. The Chiefs don't have an offensive touchdown in six quarters, an ominous omen heading into the biggest game of their season against the league's highest-scoring team.
After nine games, is it time for Reid to stop dreaming and work with what he has?
"There's some merit to that question," offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "You do have to (ask), what are we? Are we going to be a pound and ground type of team?"
The Chiefs shouldn't quit trying to improve offensively, but they're best off accepting the fact that with their current pieces, they have serious limitations. Charles as a runner and receiver has been their only consistent threat.
Room for realistic offensive growth seems bleak. Quarterback Alex Smith could complete a higher percentage of his passes, particularly inside the opponents' 20. That in and out itself would be an improvement.
Otherwise, it appears to be wishful thinking. Perhaps Dwayne Bowe can become the player he was for the Chiefs in recent seasons. Maybe the speed of newly acquired wide receiver Kyle Williams can provide a boost. Could be that rookie Knile Davis is ready to contribute in a meaningful way.
The Chiefs can't count on any of that. So they'll continue to work in hopes of hitting on the right combination.
"We're still learning this offense," Pederson said. "It's not like we've been around for five or six years. They're still learning. We're learning as well. Can Dwayne be in the slot? Can Dexter (McCluster) line up as running back? Can we flex Anthony Fasano? Can we put (Charles) out in space?"
Pederson recalled some of his teams as a backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers in the 1990s making significant improvement offensively over the last half of the season. But those teams had a future Hall of Famer playing quarterback for them.
"I felt like as an offense we did get stronger," he said. "It was mixing the run with the pass and with a guy like Brett Favre having the ability to throw in cold games. That made the difference for us.
"It's no different here. We have a tremendous running back. We have great receivers, a good tight end, a great quarterback. Now we just have to put it all together."