When: Sunday, Oct 26
Time: Noon, CT
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
TV Broadcast: FOX – Dick Stockton, Donovan McNabb, Kristina Pink (Field reporter). NFL Red Zone; DirecTV – 706.
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);
SIRIUS: 102 (STL.), 135 (KC). XM: 230 (KC).
With the win against San Diego last Sunday still fresh in their minds, the Kansas City Chiefs welcome their cross-state rivals, the St. Louis Rams, to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. With a 3-3 record coming out of their brutal opening schedule, the Chiefs are actually in a prime position to move into playoff contention in the AFC.
Unfortunately, the Week One loss to the mediocre Tennessee Titans at home blew most of the margin of error for Kansas City, so the game against the Rams takes on more importance. This game falls into the “win the games you should win” category for a team with post-season aspirations..
Furthermore, since it appears that the Denver Broncos juggernaut will cruise to the AFC West crown, the Chiefs should realistically set their sights on capturing a Wild Card berth. It is in this regard that the Chiefs practically control their own destiny even though it is just now the mid-point of the season.
Fortunately, the Chiefs have won the last five meetings with St. Louis by an average of 19 points, with the last regular season game between the two being a 27-13 win in St. Louis in 2010. Chiefs’ fans might remember that as the high point of Matt Cassel’s career here in Kansas City. That was the game where he started just days after undergoing emergency appendectomy surgery and became a little bit of a folk hero.
Here are three things Chiefs fans will need to see on the field if the Chiefs are to get their record back above the .500 mark:
Don’t give up on the run game: Before the season started, the Rams defense was the darling of the NFL to become possibly the dominant unit of the league. Unfortunately the pass rush, which took the league by storm last year, has fizzled this year. The Rams have only four quarterback sacks through six games. But don’t think they aren’t still dominant. The Rams lead the league in causing negative rushing plays with 26. The Chiefs want to be able to run the ball, so they should expect to have a few clunkers in there.
However, to keep quarterback Alex Smith upright, the Chiefs will have to keep running the ball through all four quarters. The biggest criticism of head coach Andy Reid – and deservedly so – is that he’ll occasionally lose balance on offense and try to throw the ball far too often. Hopefully Smith and offensive coordinator Doug Pedersen can keep Reid on track in the heat of the game. Jamaal Charles is healthy and should touch the ball around 20-25 times, with a healthy dose of the power running of Knile Davis thrown in.
Finally, one of the problems the Rams defense is having is that they are being caught out of position in their schemes. With an overly aggressive defense like that, Reid will be able to scheme plays using Charles and rookie speedster De’Anthony Thomas to break some big plays.
Don’t get caught with your pants down on special teams: If you are reading this, you probably are a big enough NFL fan to have heard about the terrific special teams plays the Rams pulled off on Seattle last week on two punts – one return and one kick. On the punt return, ten of the eleven players on the Rams’ punt return unit set up the return on the left side of the field after Seattle punted the ball. The 11th man stayed over on the right side. The Seahawks naturally followed the men going to the left assuming they were following the ball. The ball actually went to the right and the one man over on that side fielded the punt without a defender within 10 yards of him and ran for a touchdown.
Later in the game, the Rams pulled off a perfect fake punt to get a first down and burn the rest of the game clock, walking out with a 28-26 win over the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
The Chiefs kicking game has settled down now that rookie kicker Cairo Santos has cured his case of rookie kicker yips. Punter Dustin Colquitt looks primed to return to the Pro Bowl as he is burying the opposition inside the 20-yard line on most of his kicks. However the coverage unit has been burned a few times this year and better be ready when the Rams are receiving the ball. An inconsistent team trying to win a tough road game almost always needs a special teams miracle or two to pull off an upset. The Chiefs coverage units have to limit any damage the Rams might inflict.
Oh, and by the way, the special teams coach that originally came up with the trick punt return play originally? That would be current Chiefs special teams coach, Dave Taub, four years ago when he coached the Chicago Bears.
Put the burden of winning on Rams QB Austin Davis: Davis was the Rams third-string quarterback coming out of training camp and wasn’t sure he was even go to make the team. After injuries and bad play forced Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to turn to Davis, he has played well. So well, that some insane people around the country are trying to make a comparison between Davis and former Ram superstar, Kurt Warner. Let’s slow down there, people. Davis is a nice story, but he’s no Warner. Plus, there is no Dick Vermeil or Mike Martz in St. Louis to design a breath-taking offense for Davis to run. It’s going to be on Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to design a defensive scheme that will confuse Davis and make him hold onto the ball for an extra second or two and leg Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Dontari Poe and company introduce Davis to the turf at Arrowhead.
Prediction: The win in San Diego was HUGE for this team and their confidence. The Chiefs have played well in five of their six games and have not had the home cooking of Arrowhead for what seems like forever. I think KC Royals fever bleeds into the Arrowhead crowd and the crazy atmosphere brings out the best in the Chiefs who ride the wave of emotion to a comfortable win.
Score: Chiefs 28, Rams 17.