The Kansas City Chiefs come into their Week 4 home game against the New York Giants riding the high of an undefeated season, if only three games in. They also have the luxury of 10 full days of rest and preparation time. The Giants, however, are coming into the game from almost a diametrically opposite position.
New York has dropped three straight to start the season and is hot off the heels of a 38-0 drubbing at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. While slow starts are fairly common for the Tom Coughlin-coached Giants, the lack of discipline, specifically with regard to turnovers, is highly uncharacteristic.
The Giants defensive philosophy places a premium on generating heavy pass rush from the front four and allowing the back seven to drop back into coverage. This gives opponents fewer windows to pass into and can leave them behind the chains on down and distance if they fail to complete passes.
The Chiefs can take advantage of the upfront aggressiveness of the Giants, with a similar philosophy to what they displayed in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
This includes a heavy use of the screen game. Kansas City unveiled a remarkably effective mid-screen game with wide receiver Donnie Avery against the Eagles and figure to build on that against the similar defensive style New York will display on Sunday
The Chiefs will want to establish a strong running attack to keep the Giants on their heels. In the face of an aggressive pass rush, this is best accomplished with the draw and counter game and running power concepts to the strong side of the formation.
In Week 3 against Philadelphia, the Chiefs generated a solid rushing attack by running isolation plays to the back side of the formation. The Eagles utilize a lot of Wide 9 concepts on defense, which leaves them susceptible in the run game; the Giants employ a more traditional 4-3 alignment and have played more disciplined up front than Philadelphia thus far this season.
Defensively, Kansas City has been a force to be reckoned with this season.
The Chiefs currently rank third in the NFL in both fewest yards (21.88) and fewest points (0.82) allowed per drive, trailing only the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. They'll be facing a Giants offense that ranks dead last in the NFL in time of possession per drive, as well as turnovers (specifically interceptions) per drive.
The Chiefs will need to continue to generate the pass rush they're rapidly becoming known for both upfront with nose tackle Dontari Poe and off the edge with Justin Houston. They will also have their hands full covering Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and the Giants monster in the slot, Victor Cruz.
The key will be keeping New York quarterback Eli Manning off balance with a variety of looks and a steady diet of zone blitzes. Manning tends to turn the ball over when he can't get into rhythm early, so Kansas City will want to bring the heat early and often and ensure that the defensive backs stay at home and don't gamble or get caught peeking into the backfield.