Kansas City Chiefs vs. Minnesota Vikings: Chiefs Preseason Week 3 Game Preview
The Kansas City Chiefs return to Kansas City for the final preseason contest at Arrowhead Stadium this year as the Chiefs host the Minnesota Vikings. Most teams leave their starters on the field going into the third quarter in Week 3 of preseason games. This is the final tuneup for Kansas City's starting lineup before the regular season.
This preseason game will also be the first time Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel returns to Kansas City since being let go by the new regime following the 2012 season. Despite the gap between Cassel and Chiefs fans, Cassel told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that he does not hold a grudge against the fans and looks forward to the return.
For the Chiefs, they came into training camp with some concerns, specifically with their wide receivers, offensive line and defensive backs. As we prepare for the second half of the preseason, those concerns still live and coach Andy Reid must find a way to eliminate them.
Chiefs Week 2 Recap
Tight end Travis Kelce has made the best out of every moment since returning from a knee injury, which forced him to miss his entire rookie season. Kelce has caught six passes for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both of Kelce's touchdowns have come from long catch-and-run plays, blazing through opposing defenses.
Kelce also helped rookie quarterback Aaron Murray get his first career touchdown pass.
However, the Chiefs highlights were very limited.
After holding a 6-0 lead and not allowing a first down for 17 minutes, the tables turned against the Chiefs. The Carolina Panthers took full control of the game in the second quarter as the Chiefs starters struggled.
Kansas City's starting unit hasn't been bright this preseason and fans would love to see a couple of highlights from the first-string players before the games begin to count.
News and Notes
The Kansas City Chiefs traded offensive guard Rishaw Johnson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for safety Kelcie McCray. McCray played in four games with the Miami Dolphins and 11 with the Buccaneers during his 2013 campaign. He did not get much playing time, but when he did, Tampa Bay presented him with a few opportunities. McCray finished the season with 12 tackles and one pass deflection.
How does this help Kansas City? There is no clear answer and fans shouldn't expect McCray to make a major impact. However, adding McCray benefits the Chiefs as they try to add depth. The Chiefs lost Steve Gregory to retirement after he signed with the team as Sanders Commings suffered a season-ending ankle injury in training camp.
Inside linebacker Joe Mays will have surgery on his wrist, according to Dave Skretta of the Associated Press. The Chiefs have not commented on the injury and it is uncertain when and if Mays returns this season.
Nico Johnson has remained near the bottom of the depth chart since training camp got underway. Now, with an opportunity wide open, Johnson could make the team and possibly see some significant playing time next to Derrick Johnson.
It was a rough week for the Chiefs when it came to injuries. With Mays' wrist injury, the Chiefs had to sideline a couple of players in practice throughout the week.
Most notably, the Associated Press' Skretta mentioned Jamaal Charles (foot), Dwayne Bowe (quad) and Eric Berry (heel) as having injuries. Charles missed last Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, but he made a little bit of progress when he practiced on Thursday.
Berry has missed both preseason games and will likely continue to miss games for precautionary reasons.
As for Bowe, he has participated in both games so far and he had an encouraging game against the Panthers when he and Smith connected five times for 62 yards in the first half.
X-Factors and Matchups to Watch
Vikings receivers vs. Chiefs defensive backs
The Chiefs' secondary will have its hands full again, especially without Eric Berry. Vikings wide receivers Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerome Simpson could have a good game against a thin group of defensive backs. Daniel Sorensen has been guilty of giving up a couple of big plays, allowing receivers to sneak through for big catches.
The defensive backs could see some success with the help of the front seven. If Kansas City's high-powered pass rush can get to Matt Cassel and the other quarterbacks, then the Vikings receivers won't have many opportunities in this exhibition game.
TE Travis Kelce vs. Vikings defense
It is obvious that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer showed both of Travis Kelce's long catch-and-run touchdown plays to his team. The Vikings may even consider double-teaming him to make sure he does not gash through the defense. With the hot hand and Kelce showing no signs of slowing down, expect him to get some catches and passes thrown his way.
Fans almost always disregard preseason scores because a majority of these games are dominated by backups, who get the most playing time. It would be disappointing to see Minnesota beat up Kansas City's defense as it is currently figuring out who its quarterback will be.
Chiefs fans are familiar with Matt Cassel and probably expect him to have a hard time against Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
Minnesota's defense also has some questions after the loss of Pro Bowl defensive end and former Chief Jared Allen.
Although Kansas City's offensive line has been hard to trust, this could be a week for the line to play better and help Alex Smith under center.
Expect the Chiefs' starters to do well. With both groups of starters likely to play after two drives (one offensive drive for each team) in the third quarter. The Chiefs will probably "win" that portion of the game. With some injuries taking place, it would make Reid feel good about his team if the backups performed better. If the injury bug carries over into the regular season, some of the backups who get a lot playing time now in preseason games might see the same amount of action in a regular-season game.