The Kansas City Chiefs busted out of their slump against the Arizona Cardinals, winning easily by the score of 31-13. Despite missing Tony Moeaki and Dexter McCluster, Matt Cassel the Chiefs’ offense seemed to effortlessly score points on the Cardinals and the Arizona offense thwarted any good drive they attempted to put together by incurring penalties. The Arizona Cardinals are bad, but last week’s victory showed that the Chiefs didn’t play down to the Cardinals’ level as they took control of the game early and kept control.
Now, the Chiefs face the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks. However, being on top of the NFC West is really just a “tallest dwarf contest.” The Chiefs are a better team than the Seahawks. I will look at today’s game more closely but I think the Chiefs’ biggest opponent won’t be the Seahawks – it will be the road trip and Qwest Field itself.
Kansas City Chiefs 31 Arizona Cardinals 13
There isn’t much to say about the game. The Cardinals scored their only touchdown on the last play of the game. The Chiefs’ defense didn’t take the ball away from the Cardinals but they didn’t give much ground. Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston made some great catches but, without a running game and with all the holding penalties, their offense couldn’t put enough good plays together to get into the end zone.
When Kansas City had the ball, the Chiefs’ running game was rolling and Matt Cassel was finding Dwayne Bowe open all day. This was the most impressive performance by Matt Cassel we have seen this season. I’m not thinking greatness is in Cassel’s future but I am thinking that Matt Cassel could be what Kyle Orton is now. Kyle Orton came into the league not expecting to be a big part of the 2005 Chicago Bears. Rex Grossman predictably was injured, Chad Hutchinson was terrible and Kyle Orton was left to be the game manager. Over the years, he worked his way from game manager to being a solid back-up, a solid QB and now a capable leader.
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Matt Cassel hasn’t followed the exact same track but there are a lot of similarities. Cassel has been in the league just as long but isn’t as experienced as Orton. They both have made their way into the league by chance and stayed there because their isn’t anything about their level of play that is detracting. Cassel is doing what Orton has done: he is slowly pushing the ceiling of his potential and abilities higher and higher. Orton is no longer a game manager. Cassel will have improved when he sheds that title as well. That could happen this year if he is able to win some games with his arm.
Showdown in Sodo
I have to say how bummed I am that I am not at this game. In three weeks, I will be living in Seattle again. You bet I would be a red speck among the bright-green, navy blue and light blue crowd if I were physically in Seattle. However, the Chiefs losing would probably detract from the experience some so I will watch with the same investment I have in every other game and you can all thank me for not being there because my absence surely will secure a Chiefs’ victory.
When the Chiefs have the ball, they face a team that is weak against the pass and the run. Chris Clemons is still a force but their defensive line doesn’t clog up the running lanes. Aaron Curry and Lofa Tutupu will stop the big plays but if the Chiefs can run the ball and work Moeaki and DMC back into the passing game, the points should come nearly as easily as they did last week. The Chiefs’ offense should stretch the field enough that the Seattle D can’t contain the offense like Denver did. The DMC factor should be in full effect!
When the Seahawks have the ball, they have a reliable, but brittle quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck but Mike Williams should be out and Brandon Flowers will not be available today, leaving Brandon Carr to cover Ben Obomanu. The Seahawks still have some capable wide receivers to take on the other members of the Chiefs’ secondary but Hasselbeck’s protection has dwindled and the Chiefs should take advantage of that by sending another guy on a blitz occasionally like they did last week. He is a lone bowling pin that can be knocked down. With his injury history, it is a small miracle he is still behind center at this point in the season.
If the Seahawks win today, it will be in the air. Travis Daniels will be starting and Bill Maas believes that Jackie Bates should get some time in at CB. That is a huge drop from Flowers, who Travis believes is the best player on the team but I concur with Pro Football Focus’ Khaled Elsayed in saying he is second best defender to Tamba Hali (Jamaal Charles deserves some love too). However, not having Flowers could be a repeat of the debacle in Denver. They have Marshawn Lynch but it’s not likely that they will have the offensive line to set up a running campaign. The Seahawks also have a great returner in Leon Washington, who has taken two kickoffs to the the house and has recorded kick returns of 20+ yards or more 19 times.
I am going to be watching Dexter McCluster (because he’s back, baby!), Brandon Carr (because he is the lead cornerback now) and Branden Albert (because he’s going to play but he’s dinged up). Qwest Field is going to be loud and things won’t go as smoothly as they did last week. It’s going to be loud but the Chiefs’ should be prepared to handle the noise. Qwest Field hasn’t been the advantage it usually is since the 2007 season and the Chiefs should rise above any barriers it creates.