The Kansas City Chiefs have the second-easiest remaining schedule according to Football Outsiders. The next three opponents are good reasons why the Chiefs’ schedule is easier. The Jacksonville Jaguars, the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders beat the Chiefs last year but this year, the Chiefs have improved while the other teams remain jokes of the NFL. This week’s game is the start of the “Vindication of Last Year’s Garbage Losses” Tour. Here’s what I am writing on this game day:
Last Week’s Loss to the Houston Texans
The Houston loss was a tough one but I don’t think the Chiefs played poorly enough for any fan to lose confidence in them. On offense, Matt Cassel had his best game since he left New England, the Chiefs rushed for 228 yards against a team with a great rush defense and the Chiefs moved the chains on third and fourth downs. Ryan Lilja was tearing it up while Brandon Albert was responsible for allowing 45% of the pressure the Texans brought and Dexter McCluster still looks dangerous every time he touches the ball and he showed he can even throw a block.
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On defense, they turned in a sub-par quarter and it cost the Chiefs a win. A great Texans offense stacked some big plays together and the Chiefs defense fell short. The Chiefs D allowed more points in the 4th quarter than they had given up in any previous game. Tamba Hali failed to record a single tackle, let alone a sack. Mike Vrabel was out of position and that produced a number of outside runs and passes that were stretched for first downs. The safeties weren’t impressive at all as they allowed both Houston tight ends space to catch the ball and run after the catch. A lot of these mistakes are a testament of the potency of the Texans’ offense but these limits are going to have to improve or the same outcome could be reproduced on Wild Card Weekend.
After seeing Jacksonville’s comically ugly display on Monday Night, I have higher expectations for the Chiefs than just coming away with the win. Since David Garrard is not traveling to Kansas City, Todd Bouman will likely be under center. Knowing this, I think the Chiefs can pulverize this Jaguars team.
While it’s a given that Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones should run over their defense, this is an opportunity for the Chiefs to throw the ball down the field. With the Jaguars’ inexperienced secondary, Matt Cassel will be in the catbird seat. The Chiefs offensive line should hold up against a lighter rush than Houston brought and the Chiefs should be able to score at will against a Jaguars team that lets everyone pass all over them.
On defense, the Chiefs should pressure whoever is under center and force turnovers. After Maurice Jones-Drew, who will make an impact for the Jaguars? This is a game that the healthy Chiefs had better dominate.
Beyond the NFL, I would think that there will be less helmet-to-helmet hits than there were last week. I witnessed two but there were more than that. Dan Bernstein of 670 The Score in Chicago gives a good synopsis of the situation and the league’s reaction. It’s not easy to be a fan and watch without thinking of this moral dilemma but I will keep watching because pro football has always been a violent game. We are just figuring out how violent it is.
Today’s game at the New Arrowhead Stadium shouldn’t be close. I am thinking the Chiefs should top the performance against the 49ers. Double whatever the spread on today’s game is and, if the Chiefs don’t cover that, I am going to be disappointed. This is the standard I am holding the Chiefs to. This year’s team has made a lot of strides since they lost in Jacksonville last year. This is the first stop on the Tour and I am predicting it will start off with a bang.
Prediction: Chiefs 41 Jaguars 10