So, are the Chiefs the same team that looked anemic against the Houston Texans and could not stop anything against the Pittsburgh Steelers? Or are they the team that made an amazing comeback against the San Diego Chargers and beat down on the Raiders and the New York Jets?
They waffle between elite and painfully average, and it falls at the feet of quarterback Alex Smith, who is ranked as one of the worst quarterbacks in the league right now by QBR. He needs to be more consistent and make sure opposing defenses respect the passing game of the Chiefs. Well, actually, the team from top to bottom need to be more consistent.
Here are the keys for the Chiefs’ matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
Do Not Let the Saints Start Fast
If anyone can be deemed a system quarterback, it is Drew Brees. He is a different player outside of the dome, and the Chiefs’ defense will need to take advantage of that. If the Saints can get their passing game going, the KC secondary has looked shaky at times, then they can get the Chiefs off their game plan.
When Alex Smith needs to dig his team out of a hole, the offense does not flow. If the Chiefs are down a few scores early, then it will be trouble. This is not a team built to play from behind. The defense needs to get after Brees early and often.
Run, Run, Pass
No one would ever accuse the Chiefs of having an elite passing attack, so they need to run the ball with Spencer Ware. Chew up clock, keep Brees on the sideline, and make sure that he stays cold. Sprinkle in some pass action to Travis Kelce and some dink-and-dunk passes and the Chiefs will make sure that their defensive liabilities do not become an issue.
If they try to pass it early and fall behind the sticks, then the Saints’ defense could make a few early stops. See above for why that could be an issue.
It is hard to not sound like I am repeating myself each week, but this is not a team that plays well from behind. This is not a team that can win if they do not generate turnovers. They need to win in a vacuum. The defense will need to force Brees into some bad passes, and the Saints will need to make some mistakes.
On the Inglorious Jayhawks podcast, I predicted the Chiefs would win, but after looking into the game some more, I think the Saints win, 24-21.
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Feature photo courtesy of snj979s1 on Youtube.