Midseason Stock Watch: Chiefs

Power Rankings: Preseason: No. 27. This week: No. 14.

2010 schedule/results

Where they stand: The Chiefs have been one of the surprise teams in the NFL this season. After winning a total of 10 games the past three seasons combined, Kansas City is 5-3 and has been in first place since Week 1. Life isn't as good for Kansas City as it could be heading into Week 10. The Chiefs blew a 10-0 lead at halftime and ended up losing 23-20 in overtime at Oakland in Week 9. Had the Chiefs won the game they’d have a commanding 2.5-game lead in the AFC West. Now, they head into Sunday’s game at Denver with a half-game lead over the surging Raiders. Still, the Chiefs control their own destiny at the halfway point. They have to be thrilled.

Falling: Clean play. The Chiefs are too young and not quite good enough to overcome self-inflicted problems. The Chiefs could have closed the door on Oakland several times. But every time they could've put Oakland away, it seemed the Chiefs made a mistake. The Chiefs had 10 points taken off the scoreboard because of penalties. That simply lost them the game. The Chiefs are playing good football, but they can’t have 12 penalties for 100 yards like they did in Oakland, and expect to win.

Rising: Run offense. The Chiefs’ run offense slipped some in Week 9 by netting only 104 yards rushing against the Raiders. But this unit has been carrying the load for the Chiefs. It sets up the pass and it keeps the improved defense rested. Kansas City is leading the NFL in rushing. It is averaging 179.6 yards a game on the ground. The Chiefs have a two-man running attack. Jamaal Charles has 719 yards rushing and is averaging 6.4 yards a carry. Thomas Jones has 570 yards. This duo is a big reason why Kansas City is much improved.

Midseason MVP: Linebacker Tamba Hali. You could go with Charles and feel good about it, but Hali is the leader of a very good defense. He is tied for third in the NFL with eight sacks and is constantly bringing the heat.

Outlook: The Kansas City Chiefs have a real shot at the playoffs. They do not have an overly tough schedule remaining. Kansas City has just two games (against Tennessee and Oakland in the final two weeks of the season) against teams that are currently over .500. Both of those games are at home, where the Chiefs are 4-0. If the Chiefs continue to improve and don’t blow many more games late like the losses at Houston and Oakland, they could be playing in the postseason.