The Kansas City Chiefs defense will face perhaps its single greatest test of the regular season on Sunday when they take to the field to slow Tyreek Hill and the Miami Dolphins offense. Unfortunately, they're going to do so with some limitations in the second level with word that linebacker Willie Gay Jr. is listed as questionable coming into the game.
Gay was forced to leave the Chiefs' loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 8 with a lower back/tailbone injury in the second half and that injury has carried over into the following week of practice. Gay has been limited all week as the Chiefs prepare for their first international trip in years.
The Chiefs are currently in Frankfurt, Germany in order to face the Dolphins in the most exciting export from the NFL to Europe in quite some time. Both teams are 6-2 and have very real aspirations of reaching the Super Bowl amid a crowded field of competitive teams coming out of the AFC—including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, and Baltimore Ravens.
Offense has been the Chiefs' calling card ever since Patrick Mahomes took over the offense back in 2018 as the team's starting quarterback, but the 2023 season has featured the defense instead. While the offense remains one of the league's best, the team's investments on the defensive side over the last couple of drafts have turned it into a dangerous unit capable of carrying the team week after week.
The trouble this week is that the Dolphins have the league's hottest offense, while the Chiefs defense is already without their best tackler and team captain in linebacker Nick Bolton. Bolton suffered a wrist injury that placed him on injured reserve, and he's unlikely to return before mid-December at the earliest.
When you add Gay's injury to the loss of Bolton, the Chiefs are looking pretty thin in the heart of the defense, and it's possible players like Darius Harris and/or Jack Cochrane will be called upon to play larger roles than expected.
The Chiefs and the Dolphins will kick off in Frankfurt from Deutsche Bank Park at 8:30 a.m. C.T.