Jamaal Charles is Chiefs' MVP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This isn't surprising for a 9-0 team, but the Kansas City Chiefs have many strong candidates at this point to be their most valuable player. On defense alone, I've had people who study these things tell me that at least six players (Dontari Poe, Tyson Jackson, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Eric Berry) are playing as well if not better than they ever have.

Some of them deserve strong consideration as team MVP. The Chiefs probably wouldn't be undefeated without the strong play of Poe, the pass-rushing ability of Houston and Hali or the brilliant all-around skills of Johnson.

While it might seem obvious that the Chiefs' MVP has to come from their big-play defense, the Chiefs have too many good players on that side of the ball than to completely collapse without any specific individual.

That same claim can't be made about their plodding offense, which is being propped up by the considerable skills of just one player. If it's painful for you to imagine the Chiefs without, say Johnson or Poe, what's it like to picture the Chiefs without running back Jamaal Charles?

That's a truly grim image, for sure. Without Charles, the Chiefs might not be capable of anything at all. Charles leads the Chiefs in rushing yardage and receiving. Nobody is likely to catch him in either category, making him the first player to pull that double since Baltimore's Ray Rice in 2011.

He is responsible for 37 percent of the Chiefs' yards from scrimmage. Charles also has exactly half of Kansas City's 16 offensive touchdowns.

Conflicted about which way to go here, I surveyed a number of Chiefs' players on the issue last week. I expected to get a variety of names with no clear leader.

That didn't happen. While Johnson, Houston and Hali were popular candidates, only one player was mentioned by everyone I spoke with and inevitably he was at the top of every list.

That was Charles, and I'm no longer conflicted. Charles has been the only viable threat carrying the heavy burden of an otherwise lifeless offensive team.

Charles is doing that well enough to stand out in a crowd. Through nine games, at least, he's doing it well enough to be his team's MVP.