After consecutive losses on the road to Oakland and Denver, the Kansas City Chiefs found themselves for the first time this season in a must win situation Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. The Chiefs did not disappoint, convincingly putting away the Cards 31-13 (I picked the game at 34-17, but who’s counting?). Unfortunately, the Chargers manhandled the Broncos in a Monday Night Football blowout putting up 35 to the Ponies 14. As good as it felt for me to see Denver get smacked down after embarrassing my team, it reminded me of what everyone in the national media has said all year about the Philip Rivers led Chargers: They start late and finish strong. This formula seems to be finally taking shape this season and San Diego does not appear to be slowing down. What does this mean for the red and gold?
Every game is now a must win.
Unfortunately this now places San Diego just one game behind the Chiefs, and even more unfortunate for KC is that their next game is on the road in Seattle, which apparently is the up and coming “loudest” stadium in the NFL. This game really puts me on edge because Kansas City has not won a road game since September 19th, and they won that game with solid defense and a kiss from lady luck. Seriously, who wins a road game without an offensive touchdown?
Let’s face it. The Chiefs are horrible on the road. When they travel it seems only half of the team makes it off of the plane. In Indy and Oakland it was the defense, and in Houston and Denver it was the offense (although in Denver it’s hard to say that anyone showed up to that game other than the Broncos). Last week I asked the Addicts which team we would get for the rest of the season, Cinderella or Frankenstein, and although we kicked the ever-loving shit out of the Cardinals I still don’t think we will know the answer to that question until Sunday afternoon.
To get to the heart of what is so different about KC on the road, I spent some time going through key statistical categories to illuminate possible problems that need to be addressed. I chose to look first at how the offense and defense handled the ultimate stat (points), then at the Chiefs rushing, passing, penalties, red zone efficiency, and finally how many yards the defense gave up per game. Here is the breakdown:
|Category||At Home||On the Road|
|Red Zone Efficiency||70%||37%|
|Time of Possession||30:30:00||31:15:00|
|Defensive Yards Allowed||330||366.8|
I have to admit that some of these categories were not merely as lopsided as I thought they would be going into the analysis, but there are a few key things to point out here.
- The defense allows twice as many points on the road vs. at home
- The offense averages almost a touchdown more at home than they do on the road
- The Chiefs rush the ball 75 more yards per game at home.
- Kansas City scores twice as many red zone touchdowns at home.
Basically what this all boils down to is the Chiefs getting put off of their game when they are on the road. The entire Kansas City system is predicated on a strong rushing attack to set up play-action passes and screens. To be honest it looks like “Haley and Friends” just get out game planned when they take the show on the road. Not being able to run the ball forces red zone field goals, or worse turning the ball over on downs, which in turn affects every other facet of how the Chiefs win football games.
So what is the solution you ask? Anyone can play Captain Hindsight (gotta love South Park) and throw statistics out there to tell everyone something they already know, right?
The plan is simple. In what is now heralded as the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL (which is complete hogwash, and I can say so having never been there) Kansas City is going to have to find a way to break loose with their running game. Seattle’s D is allowing just over 100 yards per game rushing, but that should work in our favor. Their passing attack is ranked 30th in the league, and I think they are going to spend a lot of their efforts trying to figure out how to contain Bowe since our running game has cooled off these past several weeks (wow 160+ yards last Sunday and that’s “cooled off”) and Bowe is carrying people’s fantasy teams. This will hopefully draw another man out of the box for double coverage and allow for some big runs.
Next, we will have to score red zone touchdowns. Everyone shake your heads now, because I believe we need to get QB Matt Cassel more involved in the red zone to be effective. We are seen as a one trick pony, and the defenses are playing us as such. The o-line just isn’t good enough to get the job done if we allow the defense to completely sell out to the run. Cassel is going to have to get comfortable throwing short yardage TD’s if he is going to make the next step in his development.
Step three: Hire Brad Childress. Seriously, dude’s getting paid from the Vikings for the next couple of years anyway. We could probably get him cheap as a towel guy or a Gatorade runner as long as he doesn’t still manage to alienate the locker room from that role. (Low blow during the holidays I know, but I apologize for nothing.)
So there you go Addicts. Do you think we will pull off the win Sunday and keep step with San Diego? What do you think we need to do to end our road woes and claim the division this year?
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and thanks for reading.