Five Things To Watch: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans


Aug 17, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Frankie Hammond (85) avoids the tackle of Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) during the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is upon us and it is about damn time.

Now it is time to focus on the games at hand as opposed to speculating on them. Here’s a few things to watch during the game that may be critical in the outcome.

1. Jurrell Casey

If you are afraid of the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line then the Titans defender you need to fear most. Casey is one of the best interior pass rushing defensive linemen in football, at least he was last season. In 2013 he posted a +27.1 PFF pass rush grade and had 11 sacks.

Two things to note here. First, he’s switching to nose guard as the Titans are moving to a 34 front. How this will impact his pass rushing abilities is unknown. Second, he was not very good against the run last season though he was stout in 2012. The new front may cause some issues for him this season.

2. Akeem Ayers

A 4-3 outside linebacker last season, Ayers will be playing the rush linebacker role for the Titans this season. Ayers was a solid pass rusher as an outside linebacker in 43 so he should be pretty decent this season. He’s going to be the guy who gets matched up against Eric Fisher or Jeff Allen the most.

The key here is whether or not he is ready to handle run stopping duties in his new position. Jamaal Charles isn’t the first guy you want to have to be facing while also having to go full bore on hitting Alex Smith.

3. Frankie Hammond Jr.

Hammond looked very solid in the preseason and will be starting for Dwayne Bowe on the outside. We’re going to get an early look to see if Hammond’s improvements are real or if they were just the product of going up against future practice squad guys. A solid game from him, specifically when it comes to helping set up the screen game for Charles, would be very useful for both this game and later on down the season.

4. Interior Offensive Line

Kansas City is going to have two new starting offensive guards flanking Rodney Hudson in the middle of the offensive line. Their challenge to handle Casey and the interior pass rush is going to be critical in the outcome of this game. They don’t have to be great – I imagine Andy Reid is going to do his best to attack the edges of Tennessee’s defense as often as possible – but they cannot be a disaster. Otherwise the Chiefs are going to be in a lot of trouble.

5. Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano

They are the backbone of the passing offense when Reid’s scheme is operating at full strength. Establishing a mid-level passing game and attacking the seam with Kelce could take a lot of pressure off of the offensive line and Jamaal Charles. But you have to get open and you have to hold onto the ball for any of this to work. The pressure is on Fasano and Kelce to be those reliable targets.