After one week, the Kansas City Chiefs are going one way and the Detroit Lions are going the other way.
On Sunday, these two teams will take a break from their respective voyages to work out a few differences on the gridiron. The Chiefs will try to use that time to right their ship. The Lions, on the other hand, will be trying to stay the course.
All in good time, friends. For now, let's take a closer look at what we can expect to see.
Where: Ford Field
When: Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS, DirecTV 704 and streaming online with DirecTV's "NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go" add-on.
Live Streaming Audio: NFL.com Audio Pass ($29.99 for year, $27.99 team specific, $9.99 a month)
Betting Line: Lions by 9.0
What's At Stake
We're only one week into the 2011 season, but I think it's fair to call this a statement game for the Chiefs. They looked awful in losing their season opener to the Buffalo Bills, 41-7, and a lot of people (me included) are already writing them off. They definitely need to get a win before heading to San Diego to take on the Chargers in Week 3.
As for the Lions, they're in good shape after Week 1. But if they do want to make the playoffs, this is a game they need to win. The last thing they want is to lose this contest and then end up missing out on the postseason by one game.
Chiefs Injury Report
The Chiefs have lost Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry for the season with a torn ACL, which is a huge blow when you consider just how vital Berry is to Kansas City's defense. Not having him against Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense is going to be tough.
Aside from Berry, it will be interesting to see if the Chiefs will activate rookie wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. He hurt his right thumb in a fight with running back Thomas Jones during the preseason, and the word from the Associated Press on Sunday was that it is "unknown" when Baldwin will be able to play.
Lions Injury Report
According to the USA Today, cornerback Alphonso Smith is expected to be activated after missing all of camp with a broken foot. In addition, free safety Louis Delmas is fine after suffering a hip pointer against the Buccaneers, and wide receiver Maurice Stovall has a hand injury that doesn't appear to be serious.
Rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley, by the way, is still out with a foot injury. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweeted last week that "it'll be a while" before Fairley is back.
Fantasy Start 'Em
Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. He only caught two passes for 17 yards against the Bills, which frustrated a great many fantasy owners. My advice is to not give up on Bowe so easily. He's too good of a receiver and he's shown that he can explode at any time.
Fantasy Sit 'Em
Lions running back Jahvid Best. We know that Best is going to be a productive part of Detroit's passing attack when he's healthy, but there's just no way of knowing what he's going to do running the football. He got a career-high 21 carries against the Bucs on Sunday, yet he gained only 72 yards. If I were you, I wouldn't expect much improvement.
Lions wide receiver Titus Young. The speedy rookie didn't have any catches against the Bucs. In fact, he was only targeted once. Young is still a home run threat, though, and you just get the sense that his first catch is going to be a big one. If it is, Stafford has every reason to go back to the well.
What They're Saying
Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star is not very optimistic about the Chiefs at present. Their blowout loss to the Bills was a hard pill to swallow, and there just don't seem to be any reasons to think things are going to get better.
Football lends itself to overreaction, especially in the emotion of the moment, so we become used to feeling a little better the day after disasters. And this is where the state of the Chiefs is especially discouraging.
There is no better. For now, there is only worse.
Meanwhile in Detroit, Birkett and Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press have some serious concerns about the Lions' rushing attack. It produced OK numbers against the Bucs, but it also produced some not-OK numbers:
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
The Lions rushed for 126 yards in the 27-20 victory over the Buccaneers, including an end around by receiver Nate Burleson, and Jahvid Best had 21 carries for 72 yards. But Lions running backs ran for negative yardage five times, Maurice Morris had trouble holding the ball, and the run game struggled to kill time at the end of the game.
Though one-dimensional, the good news is that the Lions offense is going to be dangerous as long as Stafford can stay healthy.
Yes, now would be a good time to cross your fingers.
Chiefs Player to Watch
Have to go with running back Jamaal Charles here. Thanks in large part to the fact the Chiefs were playing from behind most of the game, Charles got only 10 carries against the Bills. He did gain 56 yards with those carries, however, so we know he's still a weapon. Look for the Chiefs to unleash him more often against the Lions.
Lions Player to Watch
You can watch defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and you can watch wide receiver Calvin Johnson, but Stafford is the man in Detroit. He looked great in passing for 305 yards and three touchdowns against the Bucs and you just know that he and the Lions are going to have some fun on their home turf.
Who ya got, Chiefs or Lions?
Provided Stafford can stay off the turf, of course.
It's gotta be Calvin Johnson vs. whoever has the rotten luck of guarding him. He towers over both Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr, and that's not going to be fun for either of them in jump ball situations. All Stafford has to do is throw it up there, and odds are Megatron is going to come down with it.
Good luck to the Chiefs secondary.
On the Hot Seat
Without warning, Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley is suddenly sitting on a hotter seat than he would like. He took a lot of guff from the media for the way he handled his team's preparation (or lack thereof) during the preseason. And for once, the media seems to be in the right. The Chiefs just don't look ready for real football yet, and it's Haley's responsibility to change that.
I don't know about you, but you can count me among the many folks who think the Chiefs have some serious problems they need to work out. Unfortunately for them, the Lions are a bad team to work them out against. The Lions look legit, and they should move to 2-0 when this one is all said and done.
Lions 31, Chiefs 17