Two struggling teams have an opportunity to start turning things around before it's too late when the Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) travel to face off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3). Both squads have been playing well below expectations so far.
The Chiefs will turn to Brady Quinn at quarterback due to Matt Cassel's concussion. Cassel was struggling prior to the injury, so it will be interesting to see if the former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns can recharge the offense.
Tampa Bay is coming off a well-timed bye week, allowing the Bucs to regroup after dropping three straight games. While they have issues to address on both sides of the ball, the talent is there to overcome the slow start and get back on track.
Since both teams are off to slow starts, the game isn't generating much attention, but it should be one of Week 6's closest games. Let's take a look at the important viewing information followed by a game breakdown.
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
When: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Bucs -4 (via Vegas Insider)
The impact of a quarterback change, whether due to injury or poor play, is always tough to predict. Sometimes the switch causes an offense to refocus and produce, while other times, it simply leads the offense to stall completely.
Luckily for Quinn, Cassel wasn't having much success before his injury, which allows him to enter the lineup with far less pressure. As long as he avoids a game-changing mistake and the team leans on Jamaal Charles, it should work out fine.
All told, this has the feel of a game that will be decided by a late field goal. That means Kansas City is the pick, because even if the Chiefs fall short, they should still be able to cover the spread.
Over/Under: 40 (via Vegas Insider)
The combination of Kansas City's change at quarterback and a struggling Tampa Bay offense has led to a low line by current NFL standards. Yet, neither defense has been performing at an elite level early in the season, either.
Both teams should be able to move the ball. The Chiefs have a couple of big playmakers in Charles and Dwayne Bowe, and the Buccaneers should get a better game from Josh Freeman, who has been streaky over the past two seasons.
While fans shouldn't expect a shootout by any means, the game should go over the low line. The defenses haven't shown the ability to consistently shut down opponents.
Key Injuries (via CBS Sports)
Chiefs: Matt Cassel (out, concussion), Glenn Dorsey (questionable, calf), Peyton Hillis (questionable, ankle) and Jon Baldwin (questionable, hamstring)
Buccaneers: Roy Miller (questionable, back) and Eric Wright (probable, head)
Fantasy Big Plays
Kansas City: Jamaal Charles
After a slow start, Charles has been terrific over the past three weeks. He's scored at least 16 fantasy points in each game, showing off the same dynamic skills that allowed him to have a breakout season two years ago before getting injured last season.
What makes him such a great fantasy running back is his ability to make plays in the passing game. It allows him to remain on the field for all three downs, and for a player who can break off a huge gain in the blink of an eye, that's key.
Even though the Buccaneers run defense ranks in the top five, Charles has already had success against the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens—two strong defenses. He should be in line for another solid fantasy performance.
Tampa Bay: Vincent Jackson
Jackson joined Tampa Bay in the offseason after spending his first seven seasons with the Chargers and has made a seamless transition. He's reached 100 yards receiving in two of his first four games and has also found the end zone twice.
The Buccaneers offense should have a much clearer plan of attack coming out of the bye. Given the team's lackluster running game, it wouldn't be a surprise to see it open up the playbook for Freeman a little bit, which would obviously help Jackson.
Fantasy owners would probably like to see a little more consistency from Jackson, who has alternated great and subpar games, but he has far too much upside to leave on the bench. He should be in all Week 6 lineups.
Keys to Chiefs Win
The most important key for the Chiefs is the play of Quinn—no surprise there. He had 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 15 games with the Browns but should be able to have more success given Kansas City's arsenal of weapons.
He needs to prove right away that he can complete key throws, or Tampa Bay will simply start stacking the box to stop Charles. If he steps up on a few third downs early to move the chains and build some confidence, the Chiefs will be in business.
The defensive key is stonewalling the running game. It doesn't matter if it's Doug Martin or LeGarrette Blount, the Chiefs have to make sure they don't gain any momentum early and everything else should fall into place.
Keys to Buccaneers Win
Tampa Bay's coaching staff has to find a way to get Freeman going. Two years ago, he threw 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions, looking like one of the best young quarterbacks. In the 19 games since, he's thrown 21 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
His inability to avoid mistakes has made life a lot easier on opposing defenses. And his struggles have also put a lot of extra pressure on a running game that hasn't been able to handle it. Unless he bounces back, the Bucs will continue to struggle.
Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy are the most important players on defense for Tampa Bay. The duo has combined for seven sacks so far and has to put relentless pressure on Quinn to ensure he doesn't get comfortable in the pocket, and that would likely lead to turnovers.
Buccaneers 24, Chiefs 21