On Monday night, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the New England Patriots in a pivotal affair. Kansas City enters 1-2 but has played better each week. New England is 2-1, yet has not looked like a vintage Patriots squad all season.
With a little luck, the Chiefs will be getting two key players back in Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry, along with rookie De'Anthony Thomas making his debut. With Arrowhead Stadium promising to be an insane asylum, Kansas City has plenty going for it. Still, there are five things outside of the obvious (penalties, turnovers) which the Chiefs must do to win.
1. New-age Andy
Andy Reid finally listened to all of us at Arrowhead Pride. He ran the ball against the Dolphins, pounding away at an elite defensive line until it gave way. With Charles possibly back, the Chiefs will constantly have a very talented, fresh back. Provided the score allows for it, I want to see Kansas City run the ball a minimum of 35 times on Monday. For reference, the Chiefs called 39 last week.
2. Harass Tom Terrific
After watching the entire Patriots-Raiders game, one thing stands out above all: New England can't block. Oakland rarely blitzed and does not have a major pass-rush to begin with, yet sacked Tom Brady twice and pressured him on a bevy of occasions. Brady was constantly forced off his spot, with left tackle Sebastian Vollmer being the culprit.
I really want to see Bob Sutton go to a 2-4-5 look in this game. Assuming Berry plays, bring him down into the box as a fourth linebacker and let him either stuff the run or give Rob Gronkowski hell off the line. Hopefully Dee Ford has ample opportunity to make his mark while Tamba Hali and Justin Houston bring the heat early and often.
When the Patriots come out in a three-wide set with Gronkowski on the field and a back behind Brady, I want Dontari Poe and with either Vance Walker / Kevin Vickerson / Allen Bailey up front with James-Michael Johnson, Ford, Hali and Houston all on the field.
3. Mind the gap
Speaking of James-Michael Johnson, he needs to step up and play the best game of his career. I'm not talking about flash plays, but simply being solid and knowing his assignments. New England is going to test the youngster early and often. Johnson has to be in his run fits and know the gap responsibilities. The same can be said for Josh Mauga. If these men fail, so will Kansas City.
4. Kount on Kelce
Travis Kelce has been emerging as a real playmaker for the Chiefs this season. For so long, this team has had no attitude, very seldom showing emotion during games. Kelce has brought that along with a knack for big plays, a deadly combination for a game like Monday night. Kelce is the type of player who lives for this atmosphere, and considering his counterpart in New England, I'm confident he will want to show up in a massive way. Get him the ball.
5. Santos makes it happen
Cairo Santos has been bad to this point. The rookie out of Tulane is likely going to have to make a kick or two on Monday to propel the Chiefs to victory. Kansas City can not lose this contest because of a kicker. Santos needs to show why he was kept over Ryan Succop and bang home any attempts he has.