The Chiefs made some pointed moves this offseason to bolster a roster decimated by injuries last season. But poor play from quarterback Matt Cassel, costly turnovers, penalties and that same injury bug have Kansas City sitting at 1-4 through five weeks.
The schedule eases up for the Chiefs after games against the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens. But Sunday's matchup with Tampa Bay is a must-win if this team plans on capitalizing on it.
Kansas City is one of only two teams in the top 10 in total offense and defense (San Francisco 49ers), which is more proof of how valuable protecting the football is in this league. The Chiefs are minus-15 in the turnover department, more than double the second-worst mark.
The Buccaneers might not have entered the 2012 season with lofty expectations, but a 1-3 start definitely wasn't in their plans.
Tampa Bay has played their opponents close with a minus-nine point differential. That number is a bit deceiving, however, since the team ranks 27th and 30th in total defense and offense respectively.
While it is encouraging that the Buccaneers are hanging in there against quality opponents, they will have to do much better to start winning games.
Here is one bold prediction for each team in Sunday's matchup:
Brady Quinn Throws for 300 Yards and Three Touchdowns
It may take a career game for quarterback Brady Quinn to retain the starting job if Cassel is healthy enough to return this season. Tampa Bay's defense just might give him that opportunity.
The Buccaneers have allowed 345.3 yards per game through the air so far this season, good for last in the league. While the Chiefs aren't your typical passing juggernaut, the road atmosphere coupled with Tampa Bay's stout run defense (fourth in the league at 73.8 yards per game) could force Quinn to make some plays.
Kansas City has plenty of weapons for Quinn to operate with. If the quarterback can spread the ball around and not lock in on top-target Dwayne Bowe, there is the possibility of putting up gaudy numbers against this defense—especially if the Buccaneers spend a lot of time keying on running back Jamaal Charles.
Josh Freeman Sacked Five Times, Commits Three Turnovers in Blowout Loss
Tampa Bay's offensive line has done a great job of protecting quarterback Josh Freeman this season against good pass rushes including the likes of the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Freeman is also limiting his mistakes with only six turnovers through four games.
However, the Chiefs defense is playing well this season considering their offense is continually putting them in tough situations. Kansas City is only allowing 326.8 yards, but is giving up 29 points per game—a number that should go down if they quit giving the opposition a short field.
Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are arguably the best 1-2 pass-rushing punch in the NFL and it looks like rest of the defense will be as close to full strength as it has been all season.
While the Chiefs have only forced four turnovers all season, they really haven't been in the opposition to play with much aggression as they have had their backs against the wall most of the time.
Look for Kansas City to build on last week's performance in which they allowed the Ravens to gain 298 yards and score only nine points.