Every week, we here at Arrowhead Addict break down the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup of the week and predict five things the team will have to do in order to win. Welcome to Five Keys to Victory.
It’s Week 5 in the NFL and the first quarter of the season is behind us. The Chiefs face the Tennessee Titans in Nashville this week, and though on the surface it may seem to be an easy game for these Chiefs who are rolling, in the NFL there is no such thing.
The Titans are, statistically speaking, the best team the Chiefs have faced this season and the only team who has a winning record. As others on Arrowhead Addict have already written, this week, the Chiefs could be facing off against themselves.
What do they need to do to win?
Key #1: It Starts and Ends with Jamaal Charles
Charles has to get the ball 25-30 times a game for the Chiefs to greatly increase their chance of winning. Ideally 15-20 of those should be rushing plays where he can get to the edge in space and then hit the afterburners and the remainder should be passes out of the backfield to take advantage of his versatility. Getting Charles involved early and often is the best way to beat the Titans who tout a defense, although not as tough as the Chiefs, are pretty damn good.
Key #2: Get in the Face of Fitzpatrick
With the Titans starting quarterback Jake Locker watching the game from the sideline, the team turns to back up quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Chiefs fans are all too familiar with “Fitzy” as he’s burned them on more than one occasion. The last time the “not-so epically bearded one” took the field against the Chiefs was in game two of last season. Fitzpatrick and the Bills picked the Chiefs apart and his stat line was 178 yards 2 TDs with the final score 35-17, Buffalo Bills. However, the time before that Fitzpatrick ruined the Chiefs home opener during the dreaded 2011 season. While the game included a cheapshot low hit on Eric Berry by receiver Stevie Johnson that sent Berry to the sidelines for the year, it also included Fitzpatrick and the Bills shredding the Chiefs for 208 yards and 4 TDs through the air. The final score was 41-7 and it was the start of a miserable season. I know this is longer than normal, but there’s a lot of history between this quarterback and the Chiefs. In his last two appearances against them, he’s thrown six TDs and zero INTs. That can’t happen against the Titans. If the Chiefs defense can get in the QB’s face, he will get flustered and throw interceptions. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has a better track record against Fitzy during his time with the New York Jets. Let’s hope he put an end to this.
Key #3: Third Down Conversions
The Chiefs offense has to convert third downs. Currently the Chiefs are 14th in the league in third down conversion at 38 percent. While that’s not bad, that means that a lot of offense is being left on the field because they’re not able to convert. Though I hold my breath every time Alex Smith takes off, I expect him to do it on more than occasion today to pick up the first down. Chiefs have to make this happen and be closer to the 50 percent mark than the 30.
Key #4: Expose the Weaknesses
After the first few weeks of the NFL regular season, teams are starting to get banged up. Thankfully, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has done a fantastic job of bringing in players who, though they aren’t starters, are able to step into that starting role for a short time while their counterparts get healthy. The Titans may not be as lucky. The right side of their offensive line is severely lacking. Between injuries and rookies, it is ripe for Houston, Hali, Poe, Berry and whatever other defender wants to come through to push the pocket back. They Chiefs need to take advantage of those weaknesses.
Key #5: Turn Turnovers into Points
The Chiefs defense (among other things) leads the league in the turnover battle at +9. However, on several of those turnovers, they haven’t converted those opportunities to points and thus has led to close games (and heightened blood pressures) when it was unnecessary. If the defense does the work to take the ball away from Tennessee, the offense needs to put it in the endzone. It’s that simple.
There are my Five Keys for this week, Addicts. What do you think? Anything I missed? Sound off below, enjoy the game and as always GO CHIEFS!!!