It’s Wednesday, and that means we can flip the calendar away from last week’s loss and start thinking about this weekend’s upcoming game against the 0-3 Kansas City Chiefs. Here are a few quick thoughts on the Chiefs…we’ll of course have much, much more about this matchup throughout the week here on vikings.com and the vikings.com Blog.
– The Vikings (0-3) enter Week 4 of NFL action looking for their first win, and this week they’ll try to find it on the road at Arrowhead Stadium, home to one of my favorite NFL stadium environments. The first road trip of my time with the Vikings came in 2007 when the Vikings traveled to Kansas City for a Week 3 showdown. Our buses get to the stadium about 3 hours prior to kickoff, and when we rolled into the Chiefs stadium complex the entire parking lot was jam-packed with Chiefs fans tailgating. It was an incredible atmosphere and one that all NFL fans deserve to enjoy. The atmosphere transfers inside the stadium for the game, too. It’s a loud venue and the Vikings offense must operate efficiently early in the game to stymie the home-field advantage.
– Yes, the Vikings and Chiefs are both winless. But they’ve gotten to this point in different ways. The Vikings have blown big halftime leads and walked off the field each week knowing they were in a position to win the game. The Chiefs suffered through two blowout losses early in the season, losing 41-7 at home to Buffalo in Week 1 and 48-3 to Detroit in Week 2. Then, Kansas City had the ball in San Diego territory late in their Week 3 contest, but a careless INT from QB Matt Cassel ended any hopes of an incredible upset victory for the Chiefs.
– It’s been a tough go from the start of the season for the Chiefs. Explosive return man Dexter McCluster fumbled the opening kickoff in Week 1, and the Bills responded by marching 25 yards in 5 plays to score a TD and set the stage for a massive blowout. In the loss, Kansas City lost star S Eric Berry for the season with a knee injury. Then, there were positive signs in the Chiefs next two games, but none of those signs translated to victories. In Week 2, the Chiefs played the red-hot Detroit Lions at Ford Field and their offense got off to a quick start, gouging the Lions defense for plays of 24, 8, 24 and 5 yards right off the bat. But then their best offensive player, RB Jamaal Charles, suffered a season-ending knee injury on the 6th play of the series, and from that point on the game was over.
– The Chiefs rank 30th in total offense, 31st in passing offense and last in scoring offense. Defensively, they rank 23rd in total defense, 28th against the rush and last in scoring defense. They are tied for 31st in turnover margin at -6, which includes 10 turnovers, and their 3rd-down defense and offense is near the bottom of the League as well.
– On paper, the Chiefs look like a team that can be overwhelmed. But these games aren’t played on paper, and after starting 0-3 the Vikings aren’t in a position to expect to overwhelm opposing teams. The loss of Berry and Charles is huge for Kansas City, but they still have a couple of stars – one on defense and one on offense – that can take over games. Defensively, watch out for OLB Tamba Hali, who is one of the NFL’s best pass rushers. He plays that outside edge rusher in the Chiefs 3-4 defensive scheme and he can cause nightmares for opposing LTs and QBs. Hali has 2.0 sacks this season already and he has 43.5 over his 6-year career. On offense, WR Dwayne Bowe can take over games. He has the combination of size (6-2, 221 pounds) and explosiveness (13.8 yards per catch, 55 career 20+ yard receptions, 196 1st-down receptions) to be a dangerous threat for opposing defenses.
– In the Chiefs, I see an offense that can be explosive, even without Charles, and that can be creative. Todd Haley is the head coach, and he was the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals during their run to the Super Bowl with Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and Kurt Warner. The Chiefs have gone to the no-huddle offense at times this season and they were actually in the no-huddle offense during their first scoring drive of the season. This team knows how to utilize offensive weapons so they must all be accounted for and the Vikings must attack Cassel to give him little time to find those targets and deliver the ball.
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