Whatever the reason, the Kansas City Chiefs have been fortunate when playing at home this season. The fact that they are undefeated at home, so far, is one of the positive highlights of this season. The question is whether the Chiefs will remain undefeated at home.
Coming of their worst loss of this season, the Chiefs have a lot to prove in Sunday’s game. They looked downright pitiful against the Denver Broncos and lost an ugly game against the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs need to show up Sunday and show that they still know how to win football games. Fortunately for them, and their fans, I think the Chiefs can beat the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday. Here are the three aspects of the game that will be integral to a Chiefs victory.
The first aspect is turnovers. In Arizona’s three wins this season, they have intercepted the other team at least once. In fact, in Arizona’s three wins they picked off their opponents seven times. That is not to say that Arizona’s pass defense is awesome, they are ranked 27th against the pass. No, the point I’m merely trying to make is that Arizona seems to need an interception to win a game. Chiefs’ quarterback Matt Cassel is currently averaging an interception for every 66 pass attempts. If Cassel and the offense continues to take care of the ball, that should go a long way to getting the Chiefs a win.
On the flip side, Arizona Cardinal’s quarterback Derek Anderson likes giving away the ball. He averages about an interception per start. In fact, the Cardinals as a team like coughing up the ball. Not only does Anderson like throwing it away, Arizona likes to fumble it away as well. They are currently fumbling the ball away about once a game. The key for the Chiefs is to take advantage of these turnovers they are likely to get and to turn them into touchdowns.
The second aspect is rushing the passer. Measuring by amount of sacks allowed, the Arizona Cardinals offensive line is the worst in the NFL. They are currently allowing about three sacks a game. This has assuredly contributed to Arizona having so many interceptions. The Chiefs have to get pressure so that Anderson is throwing bad passes all day. They need to be bad because Arizona’s wide receiving corps is quite good. If the ball ends up anywhere near Cardinals’ receivers Larry Fitzgerald or Steve Breaston they will most likely haul it in.
For the Chiefs, a worrisome trend has emerged in their last their games. In the Chiefs first six games they allowed a total of five sacks. In their past three games they have allowed ten sacks. The likely cause of the uptick in sacks is the increase in the number of Cassel’s pass attempts. Despite this, the Chiefs need to show that they can protect Cassel to help restore his faith in his offensive line.
The last aspect I want to talk about is special teams play. Specifically I want to talk about field goals and kick returns. In Arizona’s three wins, FGs and special teams TDs have been responsible for 22 points. Adding together the amount of points that Arizona has won by we get a total of 15 points. So it is safe to say that without their special teams’ play Arizona would not have won their games. If the Chiefs can shut that down then Kansas City’s chances of winning get much better.
What this means to the Chiefs, is that perhaps head coach Todd Haley needs to rethink his going for it on 4th down policy. With Arizona’s win margin (5 points) so small, I think that he should be kicking more field goals this game instead of going for it on 4th down. If this game ends up being a field goal kicking shootout, I don’t want to lose because we kept going for it on 4th down and failing.
So, we’ve got the Chiefs playing at home, where they are undefeated, going against an offense that essentially want to give Kansas City’s defense the ball. Toss in Arizona’s QB issues, typically stagnant offense, and bottom five defense and we find that the Chiefs have a great deal to be thankful for going into Thanksgiving week. That is why I see the Chiefs remembering how to win and continuing their win streak at home with a score of 34-17 over Arizona. It’s good to be home.