The Kansas City Chiefs will host the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on Halloween Night for Monday Night Football in what is being dubbed (by me) the “Monday Night Nightmare.”
Hopefully the nightmare will belong to the Chargers. Here are my five keys to victory for Kansas City.
-Romeo, Oh Romeo
The sexiest defensive coordinator in the league needs to keep doing his thing this week. The Chiefs D appeared shell-shocked after losing Eric Berry but since then, save for one unfocused held against the juggernaut Colts, the KC D has been solid.
That is primarily thanks to Romeo Crennel and his knack for confusing QB’s. What Crennel has been able to do with a group of safeties made up of Kendrick Lewis, Jon McGraw, Donald Washington and “Shabby” Sabby Piscitellie is nothing short of remarkable. Lewis is the best of the group but he is no Eric Berry. Crennel has found a way to maximize what each player does well and he’s gotten them on the field in situations where they are most likely to succeed.
Crennel is greatly aided by the talent he still has on the corners in Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. Since he can trust them to be on an island more often than not, he’s able to make up for shortcomings in other areas.
Crennel is a master at disguising his coverages to confuse and frustrate QBs. He did it to Peyton Manning for years and he has had success doing the same against Philip Rivers. The Chargers QB is struggling a bit this season. If Crennel has his way, those struggles will continue Sunday.
-Keep Airing It Out Early
The Chiefs have struggled to run the ball early all season long. The emergence of Jackie Battle has changed that a bit but KC’s strength lies in the passing game. The threat of Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston and now Jon Baldwin should force defenses to back off if the Chiefs come out throwing. KC employed this strategy early against the Raiders and while they didn’t have a stellar offensive day, they still set themselves up for success. Matt Cassel stayed on his feet all day and was able to lead a couple of touchdown drives when the Chiefs needed them.
-Pound Them Late
I still believe Todd Haley’s preseason conditioning program was a mistake. I think a more balanced approach might have better served the Chiefs in those early games.
That being said, I am starting think that the emphasis on conditioning may be paying off a bit now. The Chiefs are not a power run blocking team. They’re designed to be blocking for guys like Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster who can zip through a crease, not guys like Jackie Battle who need a big hole.
But late in games, I can’t deny that the Chiefs look like they are out-muscling their opponents. Early in games, however, the running game seems less effective.
I think the Chiefs may have noticed this as well and I think that may be why we saw a lot of Dexter McCluster early in last week’s game against the Raiders. As the game wore on, however, the Chiefs brought out their Battle-Axe to help grind away at the Raiders defense.
The Chargers have been a poor second half team all season. They’ve also struggled against the run. If the Chiefs can get a lead or keep things close, they should be able to grind away at the Chargers worn-out defense late in the game.
If this trend keeps up and the Chiefs keep smoking teams in the fourth quarter, Todd Haley is going to start looking more and more like a mad scientist.
And the unabomber.
-Stay Strong Up Front
Right now the biggest strength of the Chargers offense is the running game. Both Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolber (if he plays) present problems for any D. Both can run and both can catch the ball out of the backfield.
The last time these teams played, the KC front seven did a pretty good job of keeping the Chargers running game in check. The Chargers gained only 117 yards on 30 carries. If KC can do that again they will have a very good shot at winning this one.
-Get The Ball To Breaston
That is not a misprint.
Of course the game plan should always be to get the ball to Dwayne Bowe, but Breaston is sneaky goo with the ball in his hands. The Chargers are likely going to spend a lot of time focusing on Bowe. They’re also planning on starting a rookie by the name of Gilchrist. Breaston figures to be lined up across from the young buck often Sunday and the Chiefs need to take advantage.
Breaston is so good at faking defenders out of their shoes to get himself open. There is a good chance he could terrorize the rookie if Cassel can get him the ball. The Chiefs need to attack this match up early and often. If they do, Breaston could have a monster Halloween.
Alright, Addicts, those are my five keys to victory. What are yours?