The St. Louis Rams were massive favorites over the Patriots heading into the Super Bowl XXXVI. One reason they were a whopping 14-point favorites is because QB Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf were seemingly unstoppablethrough the air with 4,800 yards and 36 TDs on the season. This was back in 2002 before those were considered average quarterback numbers like they are today (I'm only exaggerating a little).
Patriots coach Bill Belichick realized that the key to the Greatest Show on Turf was not all Warner; it was RB Marshall Faulk. Belichick and the Pats hit the crap out of Faulk repeatedly, especially when coming out of the backfield for passes. Faulk, who had a Jamaal-like 1,400 yards rushing and over 700 yards receiving that season, finished the game with 76 yards on 17 rushes and four catches for 54 yards. A good game but not good enough to pull away. The Patriots won the game, 20-17, and that defensive game plan is often credited.
So why do I bring this up? Because Belichick is going to do the same thing to the Chiefs this weekend in the AFC Divisional round. He's going to take someone away. That's why Jeremy Maclin's status is so important. If Belichcik takes Maclin away, the Chiefs still have Travis Kelce. And if they take Kelce away, they still have Maclin -- if he plays. We just don't know yet if he'll play.
The most obvious choice would have been Jamaal Charles but he's not playing. This is where the Chiefs are a very interesting team ... because they really do spread the ball around. They're not elite in any area offensively but they're pretty good in a lot of areas. I've seen games this year where the Chiefs get down early and need to stretch the field to win. I've seen games where the Chiefs run the crap out of the ball to control the clock. I've seen games - very recently - where Kelce takes over the game. I've seen Alex Smith's running ability tilt a game. You going to come up with a game plan centered around taking out Albert Wilson? Or Spencer Ware? I doubt it. They're one piece of a larger pie.
I don't know how the Patriots will defend the Chiefs but I'm really anxious to find out what Belichick has up his sleeve.