These polls could be simplified to a preschool level by designating a one and a two before the 30-way tie for third. New England and Indianapolis have absolutely dominated the headlines this year, setting up the greatest regular-season matchup in the history of the league this Sunday.
Meanwhile, the first-place Chiefs are flying under the radar - way under the radar, even in their own division. In those same polls, the surging Chargers have been consistently ranked higher than the Chiefs despite a 30-16 loss to Kansas City at home.
As Rodney Dangerfield would say, "I don't get no respect."
In defense of the pundits, the lack of respect isn't entirely unwarranted. Just look at the scoring differential for the Chiefs. At -11, they join Carolina as the only teams in the league with a negative scoring differential currently perched atop their divisions.
That anomaly points to an obvious lack of offensive punch. Kansas City's defense should garner the respect for the team's first-place standing midway through the season. The Chiefs are the only team in the league to hold every opponent to 20 points or less, and excluding defensive and special teams scores, the defense has given up more than one touchdown in only two games this season.
There couldn't possibly be a better time for the offense to replicate the dominance the Chiefs have shown on the defensive side of the ball. With five of the next seven games at Arrowhead, a playoff berth is essentially the Chiefs to give away, especially considering KC's .815 winning percentage at home in November and December since 2000.
That trend translates to four victories, and with three of those games against Denver, Oakland and San Diego, the Chiefs have a great shot at finishing with a winning record in the division. Last year that was quintessential to securing the final playoff berth.
As well as the second-half schedule sets up for the Chiefs, the defense will not be able to carry the team as it did in the first half. The biggest reason for Kansas City's home dominance in November and December is the offense, which has tallied 27 points per game in late-season affairs since 2000.
It's hard to imagine the 2007 defensive-minded Chiefs getting that kind of production. But what if they could? They have the arsenal in Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, Dwayne Bowe and Priest Holmes, all it seems they are missing is a manual on how to use it. It's like being handed a loaded gun and thinking for the longest time that it's just a mere paperweight.
The way the defense has played, if the offense can find two extra touchdowns per game, the Chiefs can go ahead and schedule a home playoff game in January. The notion that the defense can't be relied heavily upon will certainly be tested by the likes of Green Bay, Indianapolis and San Diego. The bottom line is the Chiefs need to force the issue and score more points.
One thing is certain - if these win-ugly Chiefs do find their way to the postseason, the juggernauts in Indy and New England would likely rather face anybody else, regardless of how underappreciated they are in the power rankings.
Under the Radar?
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