When: Sunday, Sept. 21
Time: 3:25 p.m., CT
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
TV Broadcast: CBS (3:25 PM CT): Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, commentators. NFL Red Zone; DirecTV – 716.
Radio Broadcast: Westwood One: Kevin Lee, Mark Malone, commentators. Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus, Len Dawson, Kendall Gammon, commentators, Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM);
SIRIUS: 93 (KC), 136 (Mia.). XM: 226 (Mia.).
The Kansas City Chiefs don’t technically face a “must-win” situation on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, but most of the world knows that teams that start the season 0-3 very rarely make the playoffs. In fact, since 1990, only three teams have made the playoffs starting 0-3 – the 1992 San Diego Chargers, the 1995 Detroit Lions, and the 1998 Buffalo Bills.
After a close, fingernail-biting loss to the Denver Broncos last week, and injuries to two more stars, the Chiefs need to focus on getting a win this Sunday. Kansas City has lost three games in a row to Miami and haven’t beaten them since a 30-20 win in 2005, which happened to be the game that had to be played early in the week because Hurricane Wilma was supposed to hit Miami that weekend.
No hurricanes will help the Chiefs this week.
Currently, it is not known if Chiefs star Jamaal Charles will play in Miami, but the fact that he could even practice after leaving the Denver game with a high ankle sprain is close to miraculous. The Chiefs don’t have to declare their inactive players until three hours before their kickoff at 3:25 p.m. and they’ll want to keep the Dolphins guessing about whether they’ll see Charles, Knile Davis or both.
Here are three things Chiefs fans should look for if the Chiefs want to turn their season – and their fortunes in Florida – around and get their first win of the season:
Keep Alex Smith upright – It’s no secret that the Chiefs offensive line has been pretty inconsistent all season after dealing with suspensions, injuries, and players adjusting to new positions. The Dolphins have a terrific defensive line and they are led by one of the league’s best pass rushers, Cameron Wake. If Wake abuses Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher and gets to Smith two or three times, it will be a long day in Miami for the Chiefs offense. If Knile Davis is the starter for KC and plays most of the snaps, he will have to help out with pass protection in the backfield and giving Smith an extra couple of seconds to look downfield for his receivers.
Take advantage of the outside of Miami’s defense – The Dolphins are one of the best teams in the league at clogging up the middle on defense (tackle to tackle) so that offenses cannot establish things inside. Miami’s scheme often puts 7 or 8 players inside, which leaves the outside of their defense exposed. If the Chiefs offensive line can give Smith a few seconds to throw the ball and let the Chiefs outside receivers get into their patterns, the Chiefs might be able to make some plays on the outside. In Week 1, the Dolphins took everything away from Tom Brady and the Patriots and Miami rolled them 33-20. Last week, it didn’t work and Miami got crushed 29-10 in Buffalo. Dwayne Bowe will draw the Dolphins best corner, Brent Grimes, so the other tight ends and receivers will have to step up.
The Chiefs pass rush punches Miami up the gut – The Dolphins best offensive lineman, center Mike Pouncey, has missed the early part of the season recovering from off-season hip surgery and that – along with sub-par play from their two guards – has left a weakness in the middle of the line that the Chiefs should be able to exploit. The Dolphins have been particularly susceptible to pressure up the “A” gaps, which is the space on either side of the center. That means Dontari Poe could be the key to this game for the Chiefs. If Poe can collapse the middle of the Dolphins line, that could mean a case of happy feet for Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which can mean lots of chances for turnovers for the Chiefs defense.
Prediction: I want to believe they can do it, but these are the Chiefs and they are in Miami, so look for the Dolphins to build a comfortable lead and then hang on at the end for the win.
Score: Dolphins 23, Chiefs 14.
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