When: Sunday, Sept. 7
Time: Noon, CT
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
TV Broadcast: CBS (12:00 PM CT): Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, commentators. NFL Red Zone; DirecTV – 710.
Radio Broadcast: Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus, Len Dawson, Kendall Gammon, commentators, Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM); Play-by-Play: Enrique Morales, Color Commentator: Oscar Monterroso, Sideline Reporter: Ricardo Soto.
SIRIUS: 119 (Ten.), 127 (KC). XM: 225 (KC).
The Kansas City Chiefs kick off their 2014 schedule Sunday at Arrowhead against the Tennessee Titans with as many questions waiting to be answered than most teams that went 11-5 the previous year with a playoff appearance. Specifically, can they overcome early season suspensions on offense and a woefully underperforming defense that hasn’t shown up since midway through the 2013 season?
And, can they put last year’s playoff disaster behind them?
On the bright side, they still have Jamaal Charles, arguably the best running back in football, who is completely happy and healthy plus a solid, if unspectacular quarterback who got better and better in Head Coach Andy Reid’s offensive system as the year progressed in Alex Smith. On defense, they’ll welcome back Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry to the mix who can’t help but make the secondary better – bad heel or not.
It’s no secret that the Chiefs have a brutal early-season schedule and every win will be precious so it will be critical for the team to come out in their home opener and not lay an egg. With suspensions to Dwayne Bowe and Donald Stephenson and a hamstring injury to De’Anthony Thomas crimping the ability of the offense and special teams, the Chiefs will have to rely on the savvy of Reid and his coaching staff to come up with a flawless game plan.
Oh, and the vocal talents of 74,000+ rabid Chiefs fans making Arrowhead Stadium the loudest place to play football in the world will help too. (Screw you, Seattle)
Here are three things Chiefs fans should be watching for during Sunday’s game if the Chiefs are going to improve to 6-0:
A heavy dose of Jamaal: The worst-kept secret in the NFL during Week 1 is that the Chiefs will be feeding the ball to Jamaal Charles early and often at Arrowhead. The best back in football is going against a Titans defense that was horrid against the run last year and seemingly hasn’t improved this preseason. Throw in the fact that the Titans have switched to a new 3-4 defensive alignment this season and will undoubtedly need time to adjust to it, and you should be seeing a heavy dose of Jamaal Charles left, Jamaal Charles right, and Jamaal Charles catching near-double-digit passes out of the backfield. It will be a workload that would kill a man if maintained through a 16-game NFL schedule, but the Chiefs need this game badly and will have to ride their best player.
Chiefs need to channel the crowd’s energy: Long time Chiefs fans (like your Chiefs Examiner) were most pleased by the team’s return to relevancy in 2013, but following closely behind was the return of the magic of Arrowhead Stadium as a place opposing teams feared. The end of the Pioli/Haley/Crennel Era saw the once-proud venue turn into a morgue and the selling of game tickets become a cottage industry. This year’s Chiefs team will need the home-field advantage even more than last years’ did, especially on defense and special teams. Titans QB Jake Locker is a talented player when healthy, but he can be rattled. Chiefs fans need to bring it loud and long for the entire game so the Titans can’t get their offense in gear.
Defense needs to feel the RUSH again: This might be the second-biggest “no duh!” statement made behind the “give the ball to Charles”, but if the Chiefs can make Locker uncomfortable in the pocket and sack him at least three times, their odds of winning increase dramatically. It would be nice if the new triple-threat of Tamba Hali/Justin Houston/Dee Ford shows up Sunday. If they don’t, the Titans have a couple of wide receivers (Kendall Wright and Nate Washington) that will be better than anything the Chiefs will throw out there and Locker will end up with 350+ passing yards and a road win under his belt for 2014.
Prediction: The Chiefs are the better team and are at home, which should be enough to get them a close win.
Score: Chiefs – 23, Titans – 20.
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