Kansas City Chiefs vs. Carolina Panthers: Chiefs Preseason Week 2 Preview
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a preseason win at home, and it was the first time fans saw the team in action since the playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts on January 4. The Chiefs had some ups and downs in their first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals and will look to make those adjustments against the Carolina Panthers.
Considering this is a preseason game, Chiefs fans will mostly judge the team’s starters on how they do against Carolina’s starters. How long can we expect the starting quarterbacks for each team to be on the field?
Randy Covitz of The Kansas City Star writes that Andy Reid announced Alex Smith would play the entire first half Sunday night.
As for the Panthers, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that quarterback Cam Newton is expected to play at least one quarter, making his preseason debut. Newton did not play in Carolina’s preseason opener due to his ankle, which he had surgery on during the offseason.
The main storylines and a lot of the talk will surround the activities in the first quarter since it appears the starters for both teams will stay on the field for at least that time.
Chiefs Week 1 Recap
Rookie running back and punt returner De’Anthony Thomas has been a household name in Kansas City and got some national exposure for his electrifying punt return touchdown against the Bengals, earning the top spot on NFL Network’s Top 10 Plays from Week 1.
Without Chiefs safety Eric Berry, Kansas City’s secondary ran into trouble early. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton found A.J. Green on a 53-yard pass, which eventually helped the Bengals score a field goal on the opening drive.
Although the Chiefs won 41-39 after trailing 10-0, it was Kansas City’s backups who shined against Cincinnati’s backups. The Chiefs will seek to have a more encouraging performance from their starters this week.
News and Notes
Multiple reporters, including Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports, put it out there early Friday afternoon that the league suspended Dwayne Bowe for one game after he was arrested and charged for speeding and possession of marijuana midway through the 2013 season.
The Kansas City Chiefs released a statement on the matter.
Dwayne has been given a one-game suspension by the National Football League. We are disappointed in the situation and will miss him on the field, but we support the league's decision. The club will have no further comment on the matter.
As if the suspension was not enough, Bowe was already a topic of discussion this week because of a finger injury.
According to Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star, Bowe has dropped some passes lately in practice due to an injured finger, as Reid had said that Bowe’s “finger is shot.”
There is no word on Bowe’s playing status for Week 2.
Although Bowe struggled last year, he is still going into the regular season as the team’s No. 1 receiver. If Bowe is absent from Sunday night’s game, this gives other receivers a chance to make an impression.
Berry will miss this week’s game, per Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star, as he’s sat out for most of practice this week with tendonitis in his heel. Although he also missed Kansas City’s preseason opener, Reid said, per Terez, he expects Berry to be ready for the regular season.
X-Factors and Matchups to Watch
Jamaal Charles vs. Panthers run defense
Sunday’s game will be a test for Jamaal Charles when he goes up against Carolina’s run defense, which finished second in the league in rushing yards allowed last season. Panthers linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis each had 10 tackles for a loss last year and were also the top two players on the team in tackles.
Expect the Chiefs to make Charles attack the outside more, increasing his chances for more yards while trying to avoid Kuechly and Davis.
Jerricho Cotchery and Kelvin Benjamin vs. Chiefs secondary
A.J. Green exposed the Chiefs with his 53-yard reception last week. Will the Chiefs let Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Kelvin Benjamin do the same thing, or will they learn from their mistakes? With Berry out, backup safety Daniel Sorensen has another chance to make up for his mishaps.
The most important thing for Sorensen is to watch the play develop carefully and expect the deep pass. If he can do that, it will help Kansas City's pass defense, making it less likely for Newton to connect on a deep pass.
Chiefs pass-rushers vs. Cam Newton
Newton is well known for taking care of the football while providing a Mike Vick-like style of play at quarterback for the Panthers. Newton led all quarterbacks in rushing yards with 585 and tied for first in touchdowns with six in 2013. Newton will have to put up with Kansas City’s speedy pass rush—which consists of outside linebackers Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Dee Ford—and watch out for additional pressure from nose tackle Dontari Poe.
Newton might have a hard time finding space and getting into the open field when he wants to run because of Kansas City’s pass rush.
Chiefs’ X-factor of the week: Knile Davis
As a rookie last season, Knile Davis made a big play on special teams when he took a kick return back 109 yards for a touchdown in the preseason. He took a kick return back for a touchdown during the regular season against Denver when he went 108 yards, shattering a franchise record for longest play in Chiefs history.
Davis showcased his breakaway speed on special teams and a little bit on offense last year. It would be nice to see Davis get some touches after getting only five last week, four of them on offense. He has the ability to be the fastest out of all 22 players on the field, making it hard for defenders to get him from behind. If he solves his fumbling woes, he will be a three-dimensional threat.
Newton is making an appearance in a game for the first time since Carolina’s disappointing postseason loss to San Francisco in the divisional round. It is his first game since he had surgery on his ankle during the offseason, which has been highly discussed by the local media and Panthers fans. Newton might not be 100 percent in his return. You may see a couple of hiccups from the two-time Pro Bowler in his preseason debut.
Reid did not announce how he will handle the quarterback rotation after Smith plays. With Smith expected to play the entire first half, either Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray or rookie Aaron Murray could open the second half. The Chiefs should consider Murray at some point in this game, as he only handed off the ball and went to a QB kneel when he played last week.
Given that he is a rookie who was drafted in the fifth round, Reid might hold him off until the fourth quarter when he goes up against Carolina’s backups who are near the bottom of the depth chart. Eventually, Murray will play against more competitive backups later in the preseason.
With Murray having a lot of success while playing for Georgia in the SEC, he should do well if he plays against Carolina’s backups in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Chiefs 27, Panthers 24