Kansas City Chiefs Vs San Francisco 49ers: Arrowhead Will Rock With a Chiefs Win
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The Chiefs are sitting alone in first place of the AFC West. And they want to keep it that way by pulling away in the division to bring their record to a spotless 3-0. Todd Haley could become the fourth coach in Chiefs history to reach 3-0. He would then join a class with Hank Stram, Marty Schottenheimer, and Dick Vermeil.
But one problem stands in their way. A fiery, angry, and motivated 0-2 San Francisco 49ers team.
This will be Kansas City’s toughest game of the season up to this point. Yes, including San Diego. The 49ers come off a nail biting 25-22 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, and this team game will be decided by who wants it more.
Are the Chiefs ready to prove to the NFL that they are for real? Or will San Fran come in and ruin the party?
Despite the record difference, the 49ers are underachieving while the Chiefs could be called “overachievers.” The 49ers are a team that is very similar to the Chiefs in numerous ways. Both teams believe in running the ball on offense, and playing sound defense.
The problem for the 49ers is that they are headed out to Kansas City, a place that finally got its spark back against the Chargers on Monday Night Football. And history doesn’t bode well for the 49ers at Arrowhead or in away games in general.
The Keys to the Chiefs winning against San Francisco
1. Stopping Frank Gore
The Chiefs rush defense enters this game ranked ninth in the NFL. While that is a major improvement compared to last year, they will face their first true test of the season when the attempt to stop halfback Frank Gore.
Although Gore is a great ball carrier, his best asset might be as a pass blocker on blitz pick-ups. This will be a key factor, considering he will likely be taking on OLB Tamba Hali coming around the corner for a sack.
The 49ers hold a 17-6 record when posting a 100-yard rusher since 2005, therefore it will be on the Chiefs front seven to bring the heat on Gore, and make the proper adjustments as the game wears down.
Although Gore hasn’t been the 1,700 yard rusher he was in 2006, he has been a consistent force and shouldn’t be forgotten about.
The fact is, Kansas City needs to shut down the run, and force Alex Smith to pass the ball against a very good Chiefs secondary.
2. Win the turnover battle
here’s some rattling facts: The Chiefs are 34-5 at Arrowhead when forcing quarterbacks to throw two or more interceptions. San Francisco is 1-10 with a negative turnover margin since 2008. In the last 17 road games, the 49ers have posted a positive turnover margin only twice!
Those facts prove well for the home Chiefs.
Although the former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith had a decent outing against the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, Smith owns a 6-16 record in away games, and half of those wins came against the atrocious St. Louis Rams.
Winning the turnover battle, and not allowing any turnovers will be a huge factor for the ascending Chiefs.
Not to mention, the Chiefs rank third in the NFL at scoring points off of turnovers. The only teams in front of them at this point are the Colts and the Packers, two teams that could easily be Super Bowl contenders.
Just like most football games, if the Chiefs win the turnover battle, they will win the game. Bank on it.
3. Stay Clean!
These Kansas City Chiefs aren’t just improving their play on the field, they are staying clean in the penalty department as well. The Chiefs, Dolphins, Packers, and Saints all rank in the top five in playing penalty free football, and not by coincidence, each of those teams are 2-0.
The red and gold must continue to play fundamentally sound football, and not beat themselves. Playing at home back in the rockin’ Arrowhead should once again prove to be on their side while the 49er’s and Alex Smith will be forced to deal with the ruckus crowd.
4. Give that ball to Jamaal!
Through these last two games, Jamaal Charles has come to average 6.4 yards per carry while the reliable Thomas Jones is hitting a below average 3.7.
It seems that logically it would be smart to give Charles a few more touches per game, and allow him to get into the flow of the game and bust off a huge run like he always does.
The Chiefs fifth-ranked rushing offense will come to battle with the sixth-ranked 49ers rush defense.
They have a defense that is led by the fearsome Patrick Willis at middle linebacker. If the Chiefs need to gameplan around any 49er defender, it should be Willis. Willis has the prototype speed, size, tackling ability, and mentality.
If there is a guy that could be compared as a young Ray Lewis, it would be Willis. The Chiefs need to draw up plays that take him out of the equation as much as possible. Toss sweeps to Charles on the outside that could bust into the secondary might be the way to go. But if the Chiefs think that running the ball up the gut with Jones will pick up many yards, they are mistaken.
The Chiefs need to keep their running game going, and try not to be forced to throw the ball with Matt Cassel on 3rd-and-long. Let him be a game manager and just keep the ball in the hands of the guys that know how to make plays.
5. Win the game on 3rd down
in 2009 San Francisco ranked dead last in the NFL at going 3-and-out. In fact, they went 3-and-out on 33 percent of their drives last year.
This is great news to a Kansas City defense that currently ranks fifth in the NFL at forcing 3-and-outs.
The Chiefs know when Alex Smith is under center, they had better get after him and force him to make mistakes with the ball on third down. All it will take is one big turnover, and this game could be completely in K.C.’s favor.
When the Chiefs have the ball offensively, they also have their fair share of problems converting on third down.
After the last two games, the Chiefs have a 23 percent conversion rate which is well below the league average. Yet the 49ers defense has been an issue on 3rd down, giving up a first down on 44 percent of their attempts at making a stop.
In conclusion, at first glance for me, I was scared to death of this matchup. It felt like a trap game, and I know exactly what San Francisco is capable of. They are a team that is one quarterback away from being a very, very good team. They have a great defense, a solid running game, and some athletic weapons in the passing game.
You may wonder how the Chiefs will stop pro-bowl tight end Vernon Davis? But the truth is, the 49ers are win-less when Davis has two or more touchdowns, seven or more catches, and 100 or more receiving yards.
A very interesting fact. Nope, stopping the superior athlete Davis won’t be a key to the Chiefs winning this one.
But after further review and research, I found the the 49ers are indeed one of the worst road teams in the NFL. Actually head coach Mike Singletary has lost seven of his last eight road games, and that lonely win came against the poor Rams who have no signs of home field advantage.
It’s the tale of two teams when it comes to the 49ers. At home they are an explosive team that nearly beat the Saints. But when they are forced to travel they will end up getting stopped on, like the 31-6 loss to a bad Seahawks team. Or a 41-0 loss to Kansas City on their last trip to Arrowhead.
If you believe in history, you will also find that San Fran hasn’t won at Arrowhead in 28 years, another negative for the 49ers case.
Despite being a desperate team on the verge of going 0-3, the 49ers have everything stacked against them. Kansas City headed to 3-0 would be a masterpiece.
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