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How the Chiefs Can Beat the Giants

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I promise I'm not hopped up on crazy pills. I fully understand that the Giants are heavy favorites against the Chiefs and have every right to be. The Chiefs are weak at the offensive line and the Giants are Goliaths on the defensive line. If you've read any of my previous posts this week, that statement shouldn't come as much of a surprise to you. The Giants should win on Sunday. However, as the phrase goes: "any given Sunday."

With that in mind, let's think about some factors that could tilt the game in the Chiefs' favor.

  • The Arrowhead Advantage: It's still early in the season and my guess is that the Chiefs' fan base hasn't been deflated yet. If the Chiefs can play some good football early in the game, the crowd will be in the game and they will become a factor. Chiefs' fans are dying for some good football. It won't even take a lead for Chiefs' fans to erupt. My guess is that if the Chiefs can keep the first half to within one touchdown, the crowd is going to be fired up. And anytime Arrowhead gets loud, it's always a huge advantage for the Chiefs.
  • The not-Arrowhead Disadvantage: It's interesting that fans very often talk about homefield advantage, but they often don't think about visitor disadvantage. I know that sounds contradictory, but what I'm trying to say is that most fans realize that a loud crowd can prove to be a huge advantage for a defense. They often forget that when their team is on the road, their offense is negatively affected by crowd noise. Strange, but true. The Chiefs' offensive line will play a little bit better because they will have more control over timing. They'll be able to hear Cassel's snap count, they'll be able to vary the timing of the snap count, and the offense as a whole will be able to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. That's especially helpful for a largely inexperienced offensive line learning their way. They have a hard enough time gelling as a unit as it is. Building that cohesiveness becomes that much more difficult under adverse conditions.

     

  • The Chiefs have Cinderella Potential: I think what most people find so disappointing about the Chiefs' performance against Oakland and Philly is that each game was a step down from the way they played against Baltimore to open the season. The Chiefs played a tough Baltimore team on the road and they almost came out with a win. They accomplished that by playing mistake-free, tough football. Arguably, you put that Chiefs' team at home with a more comfortable quarterback and they could have slid away from Baltimore with a huge upset. After watching that game, I saw the potential for the Chiefs to be a huge sleeper this season. No---they never had potential to be a .500 team, but if they can play the way they played against Baltimore consistently, they can beat a lot of subpar teams and become a tough out for good teams. It goes like this: if the Chiefs play mistake-free, tough football on a week where the Giants aren't completely on their game, the Chiefs have a chance to compete.
  • The Chiefs Might Have a Defensive Matchup They Like: For as inconsistent as the Chiefs' defense has been this season, they have actually looked pretty decent against some very good running attacks. Where the Chiefs look really soft is on pass defense, primarily due to their complete inability to put any pressure on the quarterback. The Giants are banged up at receiver and they don't have a standout unit to begin with. They are probably going to do whatever they can to establish the run game and that's the type of game the Chiefs can hang in. The Chiefs' secondary will need to be on top of their game, though. The Giants have a superb offensive line and the Chiefs' pass rush is still horrendous. It's not an optimal situation, but the Chiefs might put just enough pressure on Manning to force a few key coverage sacks.
  • Team Psychology: This week is a major test for Todd Haley. Any coach can get a winning football team to come out of the locker room with guns-a-blazing. The true test of a coach is how he motivates his team when the chips are down. Given Haley's re-found focus on discipline, he'll either resurge this team, or he'll have lost them. I have a feeling he'll do the former. I would hope the Chiefs have enough pride to know that they are a lot better than the way they played in Philadelphia. On the flip side, the Giants are coming off of a cozy win against Tampa Bay where they dominated in all phases of the game. Good teams are always instructed to never look past a weak team like the Chiefs, but that's easier said than done. There's a very good chance the Chiefs play fired up while the Giants play in coast mode. No matter how good a team is, they're always prone to these supposed "trap" games.
  • Matt Cassel: I've commented many times about how much I like Cassel's attitude. I think he's a natural, born leader and you can't say that about a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL. I have a good feeling that Cassel is going to make sure his teammates walk out of that tunnel in Arrowhead ready to play. I realize that the Giants' pass rush poses a bigger challenge to the Chiefs' offensive line than the Eagles' blitzing pass rush did, but I cannot stress how much the Chiefs' poor offensive line play was affected by confusion and mental mistakes. I can handle an offensive lineman getting mauled to the ground---that's inevitable, given the lack of talent on the Chiefs' offensive line. But I can't even count how many times our offensive linemen panicked after the snap when two pass rushers came after them and they had no idea who to block. Rather than put a body on the pass rushers, they usually let both of them through. I expect that this is something Haley and staff addressed to the o-line and I sense that it will be much better on Sunday than it was last week. If the Chiefs can at least put a body on Giants' defenders, they can at least buy Cassel a few more seconds in the pocket. That will at least give Cassel the opportunity to finish his dropback (something he couldn't do against Philly) and also the opportunity to take off in the pocket.
  • Don't get me wrong: the Chiefs have more than an uphill battle to beat the Giants. I do expect that they will play better than they did against Philly and I still believe that there is a chance for the Chiefs to stay in the game if they can play mistake-free, tough football. After all, if you can't beat a team, sometimes you just have to beat 'em when they're asleep.