The Chiefs came away from Week 7 with an important and impressive road victory over their division rival, the Oakland Raiders. They also find themselves with a huge opportunity this Monday night to make another statement within the division when they face off in Arrowhead against the AFC West leading San Diego Chargers.
The stakes? Just a share of the division lead, that’s all. Who would’ve even thunk it after those two back-to-back debacles a mere five weeks ago?
For purposes of this article, the question of course is always “are the Chiefs now a better team than they were a week ago?”
I’ll try to come up with some kind of answer on that, courtesy Football Outsiders latest stats, beyond the break.
Well, well. While our overall team efficiency showed marked improvement, in all three phases of the game, all of our offensive play makers took a step backward in varying degrees. I note in particular that Thom “Thumb” Jones seems to get worse every time he touches anything that has to do with our offense – same tune as last year, second verse. We can at least be comforted by the fact that he’s apparently still leading in the locker room category, I guess. I mean why else have the guy suit up?
On the bright side, Jackie Battle, who still has yet to get enough carries to merit ranking, nevertheless is making a big difference when he does the ball. His DVOA after 45 carries is a very respectable 31.8%. I say the more touches for this guy, the better, and considering that the Chargers’ rush defense is currently ranked 29th in DVOA, I hope that’s something we see a lot of come Monday night.
I’m particularly pleased with the relative improvement of our special teams this year. Last year, special teams came out of the gate really strong and then declined precipitously as the season wore on. So far this year, the exact opposite seems to be occurring. Bravo! Don’t kid yourself, it’s an important thing.
The defense also made a significant stride forward. What the DVOA stats are telling us here is that that unit’s apparent improvement is not simply attributable to poor QB play on the part of the Raiders, but rather the improving play of our defense.
Both sides of the line stayed about status quo where they were last week. That said, I can’t ignore the DLs impressive goal line stance, nor those six picks. While there’s still plenty of room for improvement, particularly in our DLs ongoing inability to harass opposing passers, I nevertheless view last Sunday’s game as a singular moment for the progress and development of our front seven, the kind of confidence builder I’ve long been hoping for, and something real to build on. Time will tell.
On the offensive side, Branden Albert appears to be doing a phenomenal job in the running game where the Chiefs are #1 in the NFL when running to the Left B gap, and #2 when running outside the Left End. The rest of the OL however, the A gap positions in particular, needs to step it up big time in the run game.
Pass coverage notes – Against #1 WRs, the Chiefs rank 3rd, against #2 WRs, the Chiefs rank 25th, against “Other” WRs the Chiefs rank 10th, against TE’s 22nd, and against RBs we rank 17th.
How we beat the Chargers (aside from the blood curdling roar inside Zombie
Arrowhead) – On offense, break out the Battle Ax, don’t get too tricky and heavily involve our #2 and #3 WRs. The way I see it, Baldwin is poised for a break out game if Cassel can get him the ball. On defense, I’m not too worried about Jackson, but I am concerned about Rivers’ other main passing weapons, Gates & McMichael. If we can limit the damage of those two guys, I think we’ll have a shot at rattling Rivers late in the game. Obviously, limiting Mathews will be important as well. Long story short, our offense against their defense, at Arrowhead, on Monday night, makes this a very winnable game for the good guys in red and gold.
That’s my Double Take.
What’s your take, Addicts?