KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs stand as the NFL's only unbeaten team after four games and, while rookie running back Kareem Hunt stole the headlines with his red-hot start, much of the team's success rests on quarterback Alex Smith, who after 13 years in the league is making his case as an elite quarterback.
Head coach Andy Reid makes a case for Smith as among the league's best.
"I think it's how you play and how you lead your team," Reid said. "It's how you go about your business, you're dealt with whatever you're dealt with at that position."
No quarterback in the NFL this season goes about their business better than Smith. The 33-year-old Smith stands on pace to shatter most of his career-best totals. He is completing 76 percent of his passes with a 124.2 passer rating, both which lead the league. He's on pace for more than 4,200 passing yards and 32 touchdown passes. His career bests are 3,502 passing yards last season and 20 touchdown passes in 2015.
Much of Smith's success this season rests on the work he's done the past four seasons in Kansas City. Reid along with offensive coordinator Matt Nagy and assistant head coach Brad Childress have built an offensive system that maximizes Smith's skill set, especially his ability to make quick decisions with the ball and use his feet to run the ball and move in the pocket.
Reid also sees Smith's fingerprints on the players around him, including tight end Travis Kelce and wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley and Albert Wilson.
"Some of it's what he's got around him," Reid said. "Some of those kids have grown up and he's had an opportunity to kind of train him in his way. I think that's a plus for him. Everybody from Kelce to Tyreek, Chris, Albert - these are all guys that are kind of his guys and that's so important and it's showing up."
Smith dismisses talk about whether he's an elite quarterback. He believes that's a debate for the fans and the pundits. Winning games is his only barometer for measuring a quarterback.
"It's your job to execute your offense and help your team win games," Smith said. "There's a lot of different ways to do that. I really think that's the ultimate evaluation of a quarterback."
By that standard, Smith indeed ranks among the league's best. His 45-20 regular-season record as Chiefs quarterback ranks third in the league since 2013 behind New England's Tom Brady (49-15) and Seattle's Russell Wilson (47-20-1). The Chiefs have won a league-best 26 of their 30 last regular-season games.
Smith's offense has faced several challenges early this season, and the face another tough defense Sunday night against Houston.
"They have one of the best D-lines in football," Smith said. "A couple of the most disruptive guys in football up there."
Smith knows from experience. The Chiefs visited Houston last season, falling to the Texans 19-12. The defensive front of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Benardrick McKinney stifled Smith and the Chiefs' offense last season.
"Those guys bring it," Reid said. "They're going to give you a challenge every snap. It'll be a great environment to play in and then you're definitely playing against good football players."
The Texans and Chiefs have crossed paths several times the last few seasons. This is the third-straight season the clubs meet in the regular season, and the two squads also faced off in the playoffs two seasons ago. Smith said the frequent meetings have created a rivalry.
"Both sides have come out on top, we have gotten the best of each other," Smith said. "They have always been really physical games and tough fought. I don't expect this to be any different."
SERIES HISTORY: 9th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 4-4. This is the third-straight season the Chiefs and Texans meet in the regular season. Houston won last year's matchup 19-12 during which each team kicked four field goals. The Chiefs have won three of the last four meetings between the two squads, including a 30-0 blowout of the Texans in the wild-card playoff round following the 2015 season.
--Kansas City and Houston both went shopping for quarterbacks during the 2017 draft, with Kansas City moving up to select Patrick Mahomes with the No. 10 selection. Houston then moved up to No. 12 and took Deshaun Watson.
The Chiefs kicked the tires on both quarterbacks, and Watson thought he might end up in Kansas City. He visited the club during the lead up to the draft, meeting with head coach Andy Reid.
"I had a great time with Coach Reid and all the coaching staff, and met some of the players," Watson said. "We still communicated through the whole summer, training camp and the first two weeks. I shot Coach Reid a text and he shot me a text and it went from there."
Reid said Watson impressed him during the draft process, so he's not surprised to see Watson excelling early in his career.
"He's got some good players there around him and he's utilizing them," Reid said. "As good of a player as he is, he's an even better person. He's a great kid. He was a real pleasure to deal with before the draft."
"We really liked Patrick, watching his tape in college and then getting to know him during the pre-draft visit," Texans head coach B ill O'Brien said. "Very smart guy, really had a lot of energy. You could just tell that he had a bright future."
In the end, both coaches say they landed their No. 1 quarterback in the draft.
"You're talking about two guys that were very, very impressive to meet in person," O'Brien said. "Patrick was a very impressive young man also."
Watson said the Chiefs selecting Mahomes instead did not disappoint him.
"I knew my time was going to come and my opportunity was going to come, and wherever God wanted me to land, I was going to land in the right spot," he said.
--All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters received the wrong kind of attention Monday night, allowing two touchdown passes to Washington receivers and getting caught by television cameras shouting profanity toward the stands. A bizarre locker-room interview session with reporters following the game also included profanity by Peters.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said Wednesday he addressed the issue with his cornerback.
"Obviously I had a chance to see what took place, and we can't go in that direction," Reid said.
The display from Peters is the latest character controversy facing the team. Two weeks ago, Reid curtly addressed questions about a series of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by tight end Travis Kelce.
The coach says he encourages his players to show their personalities and play with emotion. But Peters' actions went beyond acceptable behavior, according to Reid.
"I love the compete in the kid and I appreciate his work ethic and everything else, but as professionals that's not something we want to take place," Reid said.
Quarterback Alex Smith concurred with his coach, saying players should never get into arguments with fans.
"Listen, it's an emotional game," Smith said. "We invest a lot. Marcus is no different than all of us and certainly you feel frustrated. In the end, of course, not a good thing. Not a win there to get into it with fans."
NOTES: QB Alex Smith appeared on the team's injury report Wednesday with an ankle injury, although he was a full participant in practice. ... RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif suffered a sprained knee during the team's 29-20 win over Washington Monday night. He did not practice Wednesday, but head coach Andy Reid described the injury as day-to-day. Duvernay-Tardif appeared in the locker room limping with the aid of a crutch and wearing a knee brace. OL Jordan Devey took his place along the offensive line Monday, but Reid said he continues considering his options for this Sunday night's game against the Houston Texans. ... LB Dee Ford missed Monday night's game with a sore back. Head coach Andy Reid reported that Ford did not practice Wednesday but said his condition continued improving each day. LB Frank Zombo started in Ford's place against Washington and led the defense with five combined tackles. ... C Mitch Morse missed his second straight game with a sprained foot, and did not practice Wednesday. His availability against the Texans remains in doubt. ... LG Parker Ehinger continued practicing in full with the team as he recovers from a torn ACL sustained last October. Head coach Andy Reid indicated that Ehinger is close to returning, and his return this week would add a boost to an offensive line currently battling a series of injuries among its starters. ... LT Eric Fisher played against Washington after missing practice all of last week with back spasms. Head coach Andy Reid said he thought Fisher played well against the Redskins with several key blocks. ... LB Kevin Pierre-Louis practiced in full Wednesday. He did not play Monday against Washington with a groin injury. ... DT Bennie Logan continues receiving occasional rest in practice while he battles swelling in his knee. The swelling has not kept him out of any regular-season games, however, but expect the veteran defensive tackle to take practices off as he battles the issue.