Many projected the Kansas City Chiefs to endure a setback season in 2017. The Oakland Raiders stood as the favorite to win the AFC West. Derek Carr returned from a broken leg. The Raiders reached the postseason in 2016 for the first time since 2002. However, the Chiefs won the AFC West for a second consecutive season.
Let’s look at how the Chiefs began 2017, by recapping the first four weeks of the season. This was arguably the best part of the season for the Chiefs and their fan base. A few believed this team turned the corner from good to great, and could possibly reach the Super Bowl.
Week 1: At New England Patriots
Going in, fans believed the Chiefs could keep the game within reach, but very few thought they would come out as the victors. The Patriots offense throttled the Chiefs down the field in the first drive, as Mike Gillislee plunged in for a touchdown run. Then things looked to worsen, when Kareem Hunt fumbled on his first career carry, something he rarely did in college. Luckily, the Chiefs defense made a stop on fourth and short and forced the Patriots into a turnover on downs. Then, the Chiefs were amped up for the rest of the game. Following the turnover on downs, Alex Smith led a twelve play, ninety yard drive, and threw a laser to Demetrius Harris for a touchdown to tie the game up at seven.
Things looked bleak for Kansas City going into halftime, but the Chiefs thrived in the two minute drill on another twelve play drive. A touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt with thirteen seconds left in the first half made it 17-14 in favor of New England at halftime.
As the game went on, the Chiefs got stronger and outscored the Patriots 28-10 in the second half. Alex Smith played arguably his best game and most precise game of his career, going 28/35 for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kareem Hunt set an NFL record for most scrimmage yards in a debut since the 1970 merger, with 246 total yards. Looking back, this still may be the Chiefs greatest win of the season, considering it was opening night and the Patriots were defending champions.
Week 2: Vs Philadelphia Eagles
Any Chiefs fan knows that the home opener is usually the biggest game of the regular season in Kansas City, regardless of the opponent. This game lived up to expectations as well, as both the Chiefs and Eagles came in following big wins on the road, and the Eagles looked to be improving mightily with second year quarterback Carson Wentz. This was also the second time that Andy Reid was facing his old team, since becoming the head coach in Kansas City.
This was a game where every major play ended up being crucial. Both quarterbacks were not perfect, but they both made the tough, gritty plays they needed to. In the end , a Wentz interception into the hands of Chris Jones was the big difference. The Chiefs held on to win it 27-20. Kareem Hunt also saw a huge surge in the second half, following a slow first half result. The Chiefs were now ready for their first division matchup against the Chargers, sitting at 2-0.
Week 3: At Los Angeles Chargers
The Chiefs entered this game with an eleven game divisional win streak. The Chiefs have always seemed to be able to make big plays against Philip Rivers. On just the third play from scrimmage, Rivers forced a throw and was intercepted by Terrance Mitchell. This was the first of three total interceptions thrown on the day by Rivers. Mitchell also tallied another pick later on in the contest. Following the first interception of Rivers, the Chiefs struck quickly on a long floater from Alex Smith to Tyreek Hill. This was yet another game like the Eagles game, where both teams played tightly and the takeaways against Rivers was the major difference. Smith was efficient, but the offense stalled. Kareem Hunt sealed the game on a sixty-nine yard touchdown run to put the Chiefs up by two scores. And ultimately, the Chiefs won 24-10.
The Chiefs extended their division win streak to twelve and the streak against the Chargers to seven. The timely plays and a crucial sack late in the game, where Justin Houston spun Rivers to the ground, fended the Chargers off as they attempted to tie the game all fourth quarter long.
Week 4: Vs Washington Redskins
Second home game, second game against the NFC East. The matchup seemed favorable for the Chiefs on paper. Yet, once kickoff came, the Redskins proved to be stout . Kirk Cousins sliced up the Chiefs defense with both his arm and his legs. As a result, the Redskins jumped to a 10-0 lead. The Chiefs offensive line struggled in the first half allowing four total sacks. Kareem Hunt struggled to get going until late. Fortunately, the Chiefs scored on pass to Travis Kelce within the last two minutes of the first half to cut the lead to three.
The game was tight throughout the whole second half. Cousins continued to roll and Alex Smith displayed heart in the second half. Smith continued to escape pressure and use his legs. Harrison Butker, making his Chief debut, kicked a forty-three yarder with four seconds left to give the Chiefs a 23-20 lead. The Chiefs won 29-20. A big time win under the lights catapulted the Chiefs to a 4-0 start. Things looked to be going up increasingly more in Chiefs Kingdom.