Behind Enemy Lines Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs
Dec 5, 2014, 5:07 PM | Updated: 5:07 pm
After consecutive rough losses, the Arizona Cardinals’ lead in the NFC West has nearly evaporated.
The Cardinals lost 29-18 to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, unable to climb out of an early 17-0 hole in the first ten minutes of the game. Arizona’s defense gave its worst performance of the season, allowing two receivers to rack up over 100 yards and watching as Steven Jackson became the first opposing running back to get past the century mark in rushing yards.
The loss leaves Arizona with a 9-3 record and a one-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks for the division, with both teams now controlling their own destiny for first place.
Fortunately for Arizona, they match up this week against a Kansas City Chiefs team that is also reeling after a couple of untimely defeats.
The Chiefs entered this week looking to bounce back after a loss to the previously winless Oakland Raiders, only to be soundly beaten 29-16 by the division rival Denver Broncos. The Chiefs’ offense can take much of the blame for the loss, earning little more than 150 total yards and only possessing the ball for 21 minutes throughout the game.
The loss drops the Chiefs to 7-5, falling from an inside track for the playoffs, to now an outsider for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.
With both teams looking for a much-needed win in Glendale on Sunday, we’ll go behind enemy lines and bring all the news from the Chiefs:
Friday, December 5
• Tight end addition could open up the Chiefs’ offense (ESPN.com)
Usually the signing of a third-string tight end is unimportant, only adding necessary depth to a versatile position. But Kansas City’s signing of tight end Richard Gordon this week could bring back a three tight end set to the offense, a formation that has consistently produced great results for the team.
Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles had only 10 carries in the team’s previous game, possibly due to their early deficit to a high-scoring team. But with the offense continuing to struggle moving the ball through the air, offensive coordinator Doug Pederson is giving more attention to Kansas City’s talented ground game.
• Key to defensive fix may be pure physicality for Kansas City (Bleacher Report)
Much has been made of the Chiefs’ inability to stop the run, but rather than finding an answer with complex schemes or great play from rookies, the solution may be simple: get more physical.
• Slumping Chiefs struggling to sustain drives (FoxSports.com)
The Chiefs waited until there were a little more than four minutes left in their loss to the Broncos to convert a third down, continuing their inability to continue drives from their previous game against the Raiders. To get out of this short losing streak, the team needs to get back to their consistent third-down conversion ways from earlier in the season.
They were fooled on a fake punt last week, making this the third game this season where the team allowed drives to be extended on the trick play. With a gameplan that expects positive returns to set up the offense, Kansas City welcomes teams to take a risk and convert the fourth-down out of their punt formation.
Thursday, December 4
• Cardinals offer another possibility to shred the Chiefs’ run defense (KCChiefs.com)
The Chiefs’ defense has proven to be a haven for running backs over the last three weeks, giving up big days to the likes of Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Anderson and Latavius Murray. With Cardinals running back Andre Ellington banged up this week, Arizona still has enough threats to cause trouble for Kansas City’s vulnerable run defense.
• Justin Houston continues to be a menace when teams pass (KansasCity.com)
Linebacker Justin Houston allowed his first receiving touchdown when dropping back into coverage last week, the first blemish on a resume that makes him one of the most valuable players in defending the pass. Houston’s great pass coverage, combined with his league-leading 14 sacks, should make the Cardinals wary when dropping back to throw on Sunday.
• Despite losses, Chiefs still control playoff fate (KCChiefs.com)
Kansas City squandered much of their inside track for a playoff spot with consecutive losses to the Raiders and Broncos, dropping them into the middle of a muddled pack of 7-5 AFC teams. But with a season that ends against the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers, both of which are fighting for wild-card spots, the Chiefs will decide if they get to the postseason.
• Rookie Dee Ford could be a help for Chiefs’ battered defense (FoxSports.com)
In the draft the Chiefs passed up help for a position that is nearly nonexistent for them, wide receiver, to take linebacker Dee Ford and possibly shore up holes in the front seven. Ford is currently only making plays on special teams, but with a defense that is proving vulnerable in the middle of the field, he could offer some assistance for the beat-up group.
Quarterback Alex Smith is ignoring his receivers in the redzone at an incredible rate, throwing zero touchdowns to the unit over the first 12 games of the season. This may be a result of his faith in tight end Anthony Fasano, who has proven to be yet another target that Smith passes to more than his receivers.
Wednesday, December 3
The Chiefs are first NFL team since 1977 to go through the first 12 games of a season without a receiving touchdown from a wide receiver. As crazy as that statistic may be, it hasn’t hurt Kansas City — who scores on two-third of their trips inside the 20-yard line — or Alex Smith — who is seventh in the league for completion percentage in the red zone.
When Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson had a season-ending injury in the team’s first game, many figured Kansas City’s run defense was doomed. While the team did well during the first half of the season, their last two games show just how dearly Johnson’s presence is missed.
• After pair of ugly losses, Chiefs feel need to regroup (CJOnline.com)
The situation in Kansas City will be quite familiar to Cardinals fans: a team soaring high the first half of the season, only to take a big hit to their playoff hopes with two consecutive losses. The Chiefs must now look to grabbing a wild card spot, which will require better play than they’ve had in the past two weeks.
• Alex Smith Approaching 20,000 Career Passing Yards (Bleacher Report)
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is just 43 yards away from 20,000 career passing yards. Smith has a 56-45-1 record during his 10 years in the league with San Francisco and Kansas City. He’s known for his accuracy and avoidance of interceptions.
Tuesday, December 2
• Coach Andy Reid may look to shake up struggling O-line (KansasCity.com)
The Chiefs’ offensive line took a beating on Sunday night, allowing six sacks and opening virtually no rushing lanes for running back Jamaal Charles. Andy Reid attempted to remedy this during the game, subbing in right tackle Donald Stephenson after halftime, and changes like this may be the coach’s gameplan for the trenches going forward.
• WR Bowe: Chiefs not built to come back from early deficits (ChiefsDigest.com)
Before the team could muster a first down on Sunday, the team was already in a 17-0 hole and fighting an uphill battle for the rest of the night. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is keying in on faster starts in games to end their losing streak.
• Chiefs need a downfield passing game to reinvigorate offense (FoxSports.com)
Quarterback Alex Smith is not known to air it out with long passes and a fear-inducing arm. But with Kansas City’s wide receivers unable to keep defenses honest down the field, the offense is relying too heavily on short gains and a plodding gameplan.
• Chiefs looking to stop consistent holes in run defense (KansasCity.com)
Kansas City’s run defense has been a dream for opposing running backs lately, with teams averaging nearly 200 rushing yards per game over that time. Rather than finding a solution in the performance of one player, the team is looking for a fix across the board, from the coaching staff to the defense’s entire front seven.