Today's question: What do AFC West opponents think of quarterback Alex Smith? Is he good enough for the Chiefs to win a championship?
Jeff Legwold, Denver Broncos reporter: Smith's strengths are his toughness and mobility. He will be helped, as will the Chiefs' offense as a whole, if running back Jamaal Charles can remain healthy coming off last season's ACL surgery. The Chiefs have also tinkered with the offensive line during offseason workouts. When you combine that uncertainty with Smith's past with the San Francisco 49ers, when he was benched after an injury for the mercurial Colin Kaepernick, you have the reasons opposing defenders see a tentative player at times, a quarterback reluctant to take a risk to make a play. Smith is smart, athletically gifted and more mobile than most of his peers. But his career has taken something out of him, having battled back from his turbulent time in San Francisco to be the Chiefs' starter. The Chiefs were middle of the road last season -- 16th -- in net yards gained per pass attempt, at 6.3, and were 23rd in the category in 2014, 23rd in 2013. In short, despite the quality work they've done in the run game with Charles and the rest of the team's backs, they haven't been able to consistently challenge defenses down the field. Smith is good enough to be a playoff quarterback and get the Chiefs into the league's final four. But to win a title, there are moments a quarterback has to be the guy to make a play at the biggest time. To win a championship, Smith will have to take a risk when he has the most to lose.
Paul Gutierrez, Oakland Raiders reporter: Well, from the Raiders' perspective, he definitely has some ownage of Oakland. Or did you forget that not only did he take a page from John Elway's playbook by marrying a former Raiderette, Smith is also 7-1 in his career against Oakland, with five of those wins coming for the Chiefs since 2013, when he was traded from the San Francisco 49ers. Game manager? Smith has practically owned Oakland in his career. His career passer rating of 106.1 against the Raiders is his highest against any team he's faced more than once. His 18 touchdown passes are also the most he's thrown against any opponent, compared to just three interceptions. And he's passed for 1,625 yards while completing 60.5 percent of his passes against the Raiders. Yes, it's safe to say the Raiders have a lot of respect for Smith, even if they would mumble it. But enough to win a title? Slow down. He is just 5-8 against the rest of the AFC West, going 2-5 against the Broncos. As Ric Flair says, to be the man, you have to beat the man. That's Smith's next test. Wooooooooo! (Flair voice)
Eric D. Williams, San Diego Chargers reporter: If Smith is willing to take chances when the game is on the line, specifically in the red zone, Kansas City has a talented enough team to win a championship. It will be important for the Chiefs to win the AFC West and secure home-field advantage at Arrowhead Stadium. The last two times Kansas City has made the playoffs, the Chiefs have lost postseason games on the road. But if they can win enough games to host those contests at Arrowhead with a quarterback like Smith, who doesn't make many mistakes, the Chiefs have enough talent to earn a trip to the Super Bowl.