Philadelphia, PA – (SportsNetwork.com) - An Andy Reid Doppelganger got quite a bit of attention in Buffalo on Sunday but maybe it's time to shift that scrutiny to the real deal.
Sequels are rarely as good as their originals but Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs are on their way to bucking that trend after an improbable win over the Bills on Sunday.
The Chiefs overcame a 10-point deficit behind fourth quarter rushing touchdowns from Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith to beat Buffalo 17-13, their fourth straight win.
Turning two wins into 11 was a pretty significant achievement for Kansas City a year ago but a lot of the goodwill from that turnaround, which was architected by Reid in his first year with the Chiefs after a decade-plus in Philadelphia, vanished during an ugly playoff implosion against the Indianapolis Colts.
So Reid entered his second season in the Show Me State facing a much more difficult task, one in which the last-place schedule was a thing of the past.
An 0-2 start with consecutive losses to Tennessee and Denver foreshadowed a market correction. Maybe Kansas City wasn't going to be the lowly bunch it was in 2012 but double-digit wins seemed like a pipe dream, especially after the injuries started to pile up.
A pair of torn Achilles' sent defensive leader Derrick Johnson and veteran defensive lineman Mike DeVito to the sidelines, while Jeff Allen's elbow injury further hamstrung a suspect offensive line. There were also significant issues with Pro Bowl-level safety Eric Berry (high-ankle sprain) and linebacker Joe Mays (wrist), a Reid favorite who just returned from short-term injured reserve.
A funny thing has happened, though. "Caddyshack II" has started to look like the follow-up to "The Godfather."
The Chiefs trounced Miami back in Week 3 and haven't stopping winning since, taking six of seven overall, including the four straight after rallying against fellow playoff-hopeful Buffalo.
Kansas City has now lapped a slumping San Diego in the AFC West thanks to that 6-1 stretch and are now within earshot of the mighty Broncos for first place in the division with seven games left to play.
The fact that other AFC postseason candidates like Pittsburgh and Miami also lost on Sunday only made an ugly win sweeter.
Issues remain with the Chiefs, starting with the fact that the offense as a whole lacks playmakers outside the numbers and the line in front of Smith remains a work in progress.
Reid, though, has cobbled together a competent unit lead by his always-steady quarterback as well as the versatile Charles, stud fullback Anthony Sherman, who just rewarded with a contract extension, veteran receiver Dwayne Bowe and an emerging star in tight end Travis Kelce.
Center Rodney Hudson has played well in the middle up front, helping to make up for Eric Fisher, the former No. 1 overall pick in 2013, who continues to disappoint at left tackle, as well as two shaky guards in rookie Zach Fulton and Mike McGlynn, a nondescript veteran who has history with Reid.
"It doesn't get talked a lot about but I think we have such a selfless group in general, and everybody that puts the team first," Smith said. "That's a unique thing in the NFL, unique thing in professional sports I think. It's fun. The guys enjoy being around their teammates, enjoy coming to work and being around each other. It's fun, fun group."
Bob Sutton's defense also remains a strength despite the absence of Johnson and the limited availability of Berry. Twin edge rushers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali remain a handful for any O-Line with Houston regarded by most as the runner-up to Houston's J.J, Watt for midseason Defensive Player of the Year honors.
"He's a gifted guy physically," Sutton said of Houston. "That's obviously really important. I think he's taken pass rush to, really, that next level. (He's) a guy that keeps us going, always into the situation and what we need. He is playing at a really high level."
Safety Husain Abdullah and cornerback Sean Smith have also been performing at a high level.
"They work well together," Reid said when discussing his defense. "They have good communication. Every week is a new challenge. They haven't gotten caught up in all those stats, which really don't mean much every week. They put that aside, they've studied the game plan and learned it inside out. They take a lot of pride in their job."
And then there's Reid, perhaps the most prepared coach in all of football. He might not be the quickest guy when Sunday rolls around but his gaudy 74-50-1 record in regular-season road games speaks for itself.
"No one prepares his team better than Andy Reid," a long-time NFL scout told The Sports Network. "He doesn't have many peers when it comes to work during the week and no one scripts like him. If he is able to win a Super Bowl out there (Kansas City) he'll go down as one of the best ever."