Chiefs personnel maintain they are the middle, not the end, of their rebuilding process. But even they must be struggling not to drink their own Kool-Aid as the last undefeated team in the NFL. This Chiefs team, which only won 10 games the previous three seasons, has been re-energized by young playmakers such as Dexter McCluster and Jamaal Charles. Inactive in Week 4, they'll look to move to an unlikely 4-0 against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5. Early in this NFL season, the Chiefs are just one of many surprises. Here are some more.
2 of 10John Biever/SI
An undrafted free agent who signed with the Texans because they were the only team that offered him a two-year contract, Arian Foster has been a revelation in Houston. After shredding the Colts for 231 yards in the first game of the season, he hasn't slowed down. He leads the league with 537 yards rushing despite being benched for the first half of the Texans' Week 4 game against Oakland. Not bad for a running back who was buried in the depth chart during the preseason.
3 of 10Lou Capozzola/SI
Everywhere Peyton Hillis has gone he's been an afterthought. At Arkansas, Hillis ceded carries to star running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. The Denver Broncos took Hillis in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, and even after leading an injury-decimated backfield in rushing yards in 2008, Hillis once again found himself fighting for playing time during the 2009 season.Before the 2010 season, Hillis was traded to the Cleveland Browns for Brady Quinn, and again found himself second in line behind running back Jerome Harrison. In Week 3 however, Hillis showed he should clearly be atop the Browns' depth chart with a bruising 144-yard performance against a gritty Ravens defense. For Hillis' sake, let's hope this has earned him some job security.
4 of 10Peter Read Miller/SI
Is there an unlikelier player to lead the NFL in passing after Week 4? After being shipped out of Chicago in favor of Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton has come into his own at the helm of the Denver Broncos. With no running game to speak of, Orton has been asked to throw and throw and throw this season, and in the process he's turned a bunch of also-rans -- such as Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney -- into statistical studs. For everyone who hailed the Cutler deal as lopsided, it might be time to reassess.
5 of 10Icon SMI
Yes, his best performance to date may have come against the Buffalo Bills, but it is not premature to say LaDainian Tomlinson is back. Expected to act as a relief pitcher for the young Shonn Greene, Tomlinson has leapfrogged the former Iowa star all together, and has displayed the vintage speed and cutting ability that many thought had abandoned Tomlinson some years ago.
6 of 10Al Tielemans/SI
Though a rib injury threatens to derail his season, Michael Vick is one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. Not even given a chance to compete with Kevin Kolb for the starting role before the season, Vick has taken the league by storm with his rare combination of speed and accuracy since Kolb's Week 1 injury. Given Vick's poise thus far, it's scary to think how much better he could look with a preseason's worth of work under his belt.
7 of 10Peter Read Miller/SI
Darren McFadden might be beginning to justify his fourth overall selection in the 2008 NFL draft. He already has recorded 554 yards from scrimmage and was quickly quieting any talk of sharing carries with fellow Raider Michael Bush. McFadden's recovery from a Week 4 hamstring injury however, will be the real benchmark of how far the former Arkansas running back has come.
8 of 10John W. McDonough/SI
Picked by many to win the NFC West, the 49ers are a dismal 0-4. The 49ers have already fired their offensive coordinator, and there are whispers that head coach Mike Singletary's job might even be jeopardy as well. The silver lining: they are only two games back in the NFC West standings.
9 of 10John Biever/SI
Reggie Wayne was supposed to be the star among the Indianapolis receiving corps, but former BYU receiver Austin Collie is giving Wayne a good run for his money. After Week 4, Wayne surpassed Collie to lead the league in receiving, but if this young season is any indicator, it could go back and forth a couple more times. Most notably this season, Collie recorded 12 catches, 171 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos in Week 3. As Wayne begins to grow old in the tooth, the Manning-Collie connection could carry Peyton to his retirement.
10 of 10Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Traded from the Jets to the Seahawks earlier this year, Leon Washington might be the most feel-good story of the season. Washington suffered a compound fracture in his right leg last year, and until Week 3 it looked like the injury might have sapped the pint-size running back of his game-breaking speed. But Washington proved skeptics wrong with not one, but two kickoff returns for touchdowns in Seattle's surprising 27-20 victory over San Diego. While Washington came back to earth in Week 4, he's clearly re-established himself as one of the pre-eminent playmakers in the NFL.
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