The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Oakland Raiders this past Sunday, finishing the regular season 11-5 after winning 10 in a row to end the season. Before the team heads to Houston for their Wild Card match with the Texans, I wanted to recognize the best of the 2015 Chiefs:
Team MVP: Alex Smith
Smith had his best statistical season of his career, starting all 16 games for just the third time as a starting NFL QB and posting career highs in passing yards, rushing yards and QBR. The team was left for dead after starting 1-5, but Smith turned his game up a notch by throwing for 14 TDs and only 4 INTs to lead the team to 10 straight wins. Perhaps even more importantly, he rushed for 30 first downs, keeping many drives alive when the pocket collapsed and WRs weren’t open. Without him, the team would likely not have been as successful.
Defensive player of the year: Marcus Peters
Peters, the rookie CB from Washington, had the interesting distinction of being targeted the most times in the NFL, which led to some ups and downs this season, but he finished the season tied for the most interceptions in the league, and also set a Chiefs franchise record with 26 passes defensed. He scored two interception return TDs (tied for most in the NFL) and led the NFL in interception return yards. In fact, Peters had 144 more return yards than the next closest player. Peters played with a swagger that helped the defense allow the 3rd fewest points in the league.
Offensive player of the year: Jeremy Maclin
Maclin, who was Alex Smith’s first ever 1000 yard receiver, had a fantastic year that included setting a Chiefs franchise record for most catches in a season by a WR with 87. He eclipsed 1000 receiving yards for the second time in his career and the second straight season, and scored 8 TDs. Maclin was able to open the offense in ways that KC has not seen in years.
Special mention should be given to Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, the two running backs who stepped up when Jamaal Charles was lost for the season. West and Ware picked up the slack big time, helping the Chiefs while rushing for a combined 1037 yards and 10 TDs.
Rookie of the year: (tie) Marcus Peters and Mitch Morse
These two rookies not only played a significant number of snaps this season, but they were starters in positions crucial to the success of the team. Morse became the starting center out of training camp and helped provide some consistency on a shaky OL. Peters provided a cushion when Sean Smith was suspended during the first three games of the season, and he never looked back after earning that starting role. It will be exciting to see these players progress in the years to come.
Comeback player of the year: (tie) Eric Berry and Derrick Johnson
Berry’s story of how he came back to defeat lymphoma after only 9 months of treatment is one of the most inspiring stories of the year, and not just in sports. His courage and drive are unparalleled and Berry, despite having lower stats than in years past, might have played the best football of his life. He was constantly disrupting things at the line and blowing up plays several times a game. DJ, one year after sitting out due to a torn Achilles injury, was back to his former self, finishing with the 4th most tackles in his career (116), 4 sacks, 2 INTs, and now holds the Chiefs franchise record for most career tackles. Perhaps more importantly, DJ helped the KC defense move from 28th in the league to 8th in rushing defense. While DJ overcame less than Berry, he certainly climbed a huge hurdle to make a big impact this season.
Best statistics of the season: 10 straight wins
No one saw it coming, especially after the team was 1-5 and looked like they were headed for a top 5 draft pick. But the Chiefs rallied behind Andy Reid and Alex Smith and did the unthinkable by winning 10 straight games to end the regular season. The winning streak is the longest in team history, and the second winning streak of at least 9 games in Reid’s 3 season in KC. Those 10 wins helped the Chiefs clinch a playoff berth before the season was over, and now allows them a chance to end another streak – the 22 years and 8 playoff games without a victory.
Here is hoping the Chiefs continue their winning ways in Houston for their playoff matchup. Go Chiefs!