The Kansas City Chiefs' Doug Pederson made a comment this week that stood out to me. Talking about what the Packers defense did in the first half vs. what they did in the second half (not much difference, he said), the Chiefs offensive coordinator said this about Green Bay's defense:
Every time they felt like they needed a stop, they would bring the pressure and force us to either throw quick or get out of certain things.
That sentence above sounds like the blueprint to beating the Chiefs. Pressure Alex Smith and force him to either dump it off to De'Anthony Thomas four yards behind the line of scrimmage on third and long or he'll take the sack. The Chiefs understand that Cincinnati is going to watch that Packers game and do the same thing.
"Cincinnati is another defense that will do the same thing," Pederson said. "They're an attack-style, very aggressive. Anything you see on tape, you say ‘Hey, we can do the same thing,' especially if it's in your package. I wouldn't expect anything different each week, teams are going to pressure you anyway. Again, we just have to look at that film, make those corrections and move on to the next one."
Only four quarterbacks have been under more pressure than Alex Smith so far this year. And Smith hasn't responded very well to that. Against Denver under pressure, Smith was 5-of-9 for 73 yards, one interception and four sacks. Against Green Bay under pressure, he was 7-of-14 for 87 yards, one touchdown, one interception and seven sacks (via PFF).
The Chiefs know exactly what it was coming here with Cincinnati's defense. The Bengals think DT Geno Atkins can exploit the Chiefs interior offensive line and Alex Smith will bail early. Cincinnati has six sacks this season but last year they were last in the league with just 20 sacks. However, until the Chiefs prove they can avoid the sacks when pressure is brought, I expect Cincinnati to bring it.