This is part 2 of my in-depth look at our future home games in 2010, finishing up with the final 4 home games and how well I think the crowd can affect the opposing offense, in particular, the QB.
Week 11: Arizona. Up to this point in 2010, we will have gone through 4 road games in 6 weeks prior to this game. Depending on where we stand, going 3-3 through that stretch would be simply impressive, and will go a long way in keeping that large, loud home crowd coming to Arrowhead. With that said, the Arizona Cardinals coming into Kansas City will be a reunion of such with Todd Haley and his former team that he helped lead to the Super Bowl in 2008, so he will know a few of the players pretty well and should bring a good knowledge of how to attack/defend this team; unfortunately one of those players he doesn't know is the QBs, including current starter Derek Anderson. Arrowhead doesn't know Anderson, however Anderson doesn't know Arrowhead either. The Chiefs haven't played against Anderson at Arrowhead, so like many 1st time QBs coming into Kansas City with the roar of 70,000 fans beating down on his psyche, he could be in for a long day. Anderson is a capable starting QB with a big arm, but has been extremely inconsistent on his accuracy and leadership for his team, so that late in the season, it's not outrageous to think that Arizona and their head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, may have turned to one of the rookies on their roster, Max Hall or John Skelton, and if that's the case, I feel much better about the crowd's chances of affecting this game with a rookie under center starting against us. The running game could give us fits, but with the potential to put up some points on a weaker defense, we may be able to take the run game out of the equation.
Week 13: Denver. It could be considered a good thing that we are playing only our 2nd home division game this late in the season, in that we could be pushing to try to win the division (however unlikely that may be), so these late home games could be a tremendous help in trying to win these games. We play the Denver Broncos in the exact same week at home we played them last year at home withKyle Orton at the helm of a Denver offense; we were routed pretty good that game with Orton going 15/25 for 180 yds., 2 TDs, and 1 INts, while the Denver running game imposed it's will on us for over 200 yards. Once again, this was late in enough of a 3-win season up to that point last year, so I don't think the crowd had much to roar over, but that was Orton's first and only time playing in Arrowhead thus far. Orton has shown through preseason that he can lead a pass heavy offense pretty successfully, but as far as being able to lean on the run game when needed, Denver hasn't been nearly the rushing juggernaut that they were in Mike Shanahan's days. As long as our rush defense can continue it's stingy ways this far into the season, we may force Orton to beat us, and while Jabar Gaffney had a field day with us in the last game of the season at Denver in 2009, our improved secondary can make life more difficult for pass heavy teams that can't run the ball consistently. Put Orton in pressure situations with a rocking Arrowhead crowd, I'm betting he'll fold.
Week 16: Tennessee. Yikes. This game will be daunting if the Tennessee Titans have Chris Johnson in full effect withVince Young playing well against a defense that is geared up to stop the running game. Young has faced Arrowhead before in week 15 of 2007 with the Titans deep in the playoff hunt. The Chiefs were coming off of 6 of the 9 straight losses that ended our 2007 season, and Vince Young showed up that day, going 16/26 for 191 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs, adding 32 rush yards to his totals. I would say that while Young has been in some big games in college and the pros, he's clearly not above getting rattled a bit by his surroundings. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to get a roaring crowd if CJ is running the ball up and down the field, and no matter how improved our rush defense might be at that point, Johnson has showed no defense is too stout for him. I can't see many ways we can get into the game unless we can jump out to a large early lead, possibly making the Titans get away from the run to score quickly with the pass; too bad that CJ is about as good as breaking long TD runs as most NFL teams are of putting up quick passing scores, so Tennessee getting away from the run and making Vince Young win the games for them isn't likely to happen very often. The weather will be cold by then as well, so running the ball is what good teams will do best at this point in the season, so let's hope for some luck this game
Week 17: Oakland. Oh boy, if this game had any playoff implications, even if somehow the Raiders become relevant and are pushing for a playoff spot come the final week of the season, Arrowhead should be in full force to either win the division, push for a wild card spot, keep the Raiders out of the playoffs, or just beat a division rival to close out the season, not unlike the final game last season against Denver. Assuming that Jason Campbell is still the starting QB by the last week of the season, he hasn't played in Arrowhead yet either during his tenure in Washington. The Raiders seem to always play us close, no matter how bad or how good the Chiefs are, so I would expect more of the same, and the fact that we haven't beat the Raiders at Arrowhead since 2006 is just unbelievable. Jason Campbell played against the Chiefs last season in Washington and proceeded to be booed by his home crowd and was benched in favor of Todd Collins which led to our first win under the Haley coaching tenure. If our defense last season can make Campbell look that bad (5/16, 89 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT), then I can only imagine what we can do to him at a truculent and belegerant Arrowhead stadium (which seems a fitting description for the hated Raiders), so we just need to BRING THE PAIN for Campbell in week 17 to get in his head and finish this season right.
All in all, I know that are many more things that go into a win/loss than just how loud we can be to try to affect the opposing QB and offense in a negative way, but it's all we can do as fans to help our team on the field. I believe our home schedule plays out well with QBs that are inexperienced with how intimidating, frustrating and difficult an environment the real Arrowhead and the Sea of Red can be at it's peak. Ask Philip Rivers, arguably the best QB we will face at home this season, he'll tell you all about it. Add in a few elements out of our control, like rain, snow, wind, maybe a random tornado of white towels handed out at the beginning of the game, we might just be able to post a far above .500 home record. We took back Mondays at Arrowhead on Sept. 13th, let's take back every Sunday at Arrowhead from here on out this season and make sure that "Arrowhead Mystique" is back for good!