Kansas City Chiefs: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 4

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Kansas City Chiefs: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 4
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs have been a surprise team for some in the early part of the 2013 NFL season.  Led by an aggressive attacking defense, the Chiefs have started the season picking up three wins, two of them on the road, and no losses.

While the Kansas City offense remains a work in progress, it began to show flashes in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles, developing a mid-screen game, and getting free agent acquisition Donnie Avery involved early and often.  The defense struggled keeping quarterback Michael Vick contained at times, a problem that has plagued this unit sine Reid took over as head coach.

Going into Week 4, where the Chiefs will be taking on the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City needs to get its tight ends healthy it was down to just Sean McGrath in Week 3), and must improve in pass protection along the offensive line.  Kansas City gave up five sacks against the Eagles, and the Giants love to get up field and rush the passer, as well.

 

Division Standings

Team

Wins

Losses

Points For

Points Against

TDs

Net Points

Home

Road

Kansas City

3

0

71

34

8

37

1-0

2-0

Denver

3

0

127

71

16

56

2-0

1-0

Oakland

1

2

57

67

6

-10

1-0

0-2

San Diego

1

2

78

81

9

-3

0-1

1-1

The Kansas City Chiefs sit tied atop the AFC West with the Denver Broncos, largely due to the opportunistic nature of their defense.  The Chiefs are tied for second best in the NFL in only allowing 34 points through the first three weeks of play, trailing only the Seattle Seahawks.  Kansas City also has the highest sack total in the league with 15, and is second in the league in defensive scoring.

For the moment, the division race looks like a two team show; the Chiefs will get their first crack at the Denver Broncos on November 17th, in Denver.

 

Injury Report

In Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City was without both of its top two tight ends, and while Sean McGrath filled in ably, this is not something the Chiefs can sustain long-term.  The Chiefs are not required by the NFL to produce a full detailed injury report until Wednesday, but here are the players who were absent from Monday's practice:

Name

Position

Injury

Practice Status

Game Status

Jeff Allen

OL

Groin

Did Not Participate

Questionable

Anthony Fasano

TE

Ankle

Did Not Participate

Questionable

Brandon Flowers

CB

Knee

Did Not Participate

Questionable

Travis Kelce

TE

Knee

Did Not Participate

Questionable

Kendrick Lewis

S

Ankle

Did Not Participate

Questionable

Anthony Sherman

FB

Knee

Did Not Participate

Probable

Head coach Andy Reid talked about player statuses after Monday's practice, as reported by Herbie Teope of ChiefsSpin.com:

Fasano and Kelce are "making progress"… Reid said Lewis “rolled his ankle yesterday”… Reid said Sherman’s knee swelled from Thursday night’s game, but “should be OK” … Reid said Flowers is day-to-day.

Most of the injured players sound like they're making good recoveries per that quote, although there is no mention of offensive lineman Jeff Allen. The Chiefs can ill afford to be without linemen and tight ends when the Giants come to town on Sunday.  New York likes to utilize an upfield attack from their defensive linemen to attack the quarterback, and Kansas City has struggled to protect Alex Smith early this season.

Look for a more detailed and finalized injury report on Wednesday to gain a clearer picture of who will be suiting up on Sunday for the Chiefs.

 

What Must Improve

Kansas City absolutely must improve offensive line play, specifically in pass protection against the New York Giants.  The Chiefs have struggled establishing a vertical passing game early this season, in part due to poor protection, and in part due to receivers failing to create down field separation.  The combination of the two allows defenses to move safeties into the box, making it easier to disguise and execute blitzes, and stuff the run game.

While the Chiefs have been opportunistic on defense, the secondary has shown holes at times, specifically in man coverage.  

Dez Bryant moved at will through the secondary in the first half of Week 2, the Chiefs adjusted with bracket coverage in the second half and slowed him down considerably.  In Week 1, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Ace Sanders had two otherwise long gains called back due to holding penalties by their offensive line, and in Week 3 four players in the Philadelphia receiving corps had receptions of 15 yards or longer, including two 30-plus yard plays. 

With the front seven generating as much pressure as they have, the secondary can't afford to get lazy and allow receivers big gains.

The Chiefs must come out and establish the run early, so the Giants defensive line can't pin their ears back and come after quarterback Alex Smith.  The Chiefs did a good job of this in Week 3 against the Eagles, and then manipulated them with the screen game, when in obvious passing situations.  Kansas City needs to build on that momentum going forward, to keep opposing defenses off balance, especially given the lack of success in the vertical passing game.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Is Dwayne Bowe the forgotten man in Kansas City?

Kansas City will need to get seemingly forgotten wide receiver Dwayne Bowe going.  Bowe, who signed a five year, $56 million deal prior to the season, has had a mere nine receptions for 90 yards thus far for the Chiefs, and has been an almost complete non-factor.  With Donnie Avery emerging, that should help free up coverage on Bowe, though whether he takes advantage or not remains to be seen.

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