On the surface, this matchup against one of the worst teams in the league may not look like a game worth watching. But there are plenty of moving pieces for the Chiefs as they try to rebound from a tough stretch of games that derailed their perfect record and sewed doubt into the mind of media and fans. Andy Reid’s crew should see this game as an opportunity to reset, make adjustments and dominate in order to set the stage for the playoff run.
Below are a few things we’ll be watching for this week, and some bold predictions. As always, feel free to give us yours in the comment section, and let me know why I’m wrong this week.
1) Chiefs adjustments after the bye
Will they use Hill more? Or bring Mitchell back over Acker? Or start Ehinger? The bye week is a great time to change starters or make adjustments to scheme. Everyone knows that Andy Reid is great after a bye week. That’s partially because he always gives his team the week off to rest and get away from football. But, it’s also because he uses the bye week to self scout and make adjustments. The three personnel changes listed above seem obvious to most of us watching. We’ll see if coach agrees, or if there are other changes he decides to make.
Prediction: Mitchell and Ehinger make surprise returns, and Hill has 8+ targets
2) Kareem Hunt
A lot of the recent talk has been about Kareem Hunt hitting a wall after a huge start. Those who watch the Chiefs closely will likely agree he’s running into walls in the form of defensive linemen. Hunt can create big plays and break tackles. But, he can’t do much if he’s getting hit in the backfield. The Giants may be without their best run-stopping lineman in ‘Snacks’ Harrison, and the Chiefs offensive line should be as healthy and complete as they’ve been all year. This is a big opportunity to get ‘the dream’ going once again.
Prediction: 80 yards and a TD for Kareem Hunt
3) Will the Chiefs bury a struggling opponent or let them hang around?
Good teams win the games they are supposed to win, and don’t give inferior opponents hope. In this week’s podcast, Terez and Jordan Raanan mention the only way for the Giants to win is if they control the clock and keep the Chiefs offense off of the field. Conversely, the way for the Chiefs to win is to get a quick lead and remove all doubt. They need to be aggressive early, both on offense and defense, and assert their dominance over a team who many believe is quitting.
Prediction: The Chiefs bury the Giants in the 1st half by three scores, and the game is never really close.
4) Justin Houston vs rookie RT
Chad Wheeler gets his first start this week, and he’ll see #50 lined up across from him, coming off of a bye week. The Giants starting offensive tackles were struggling anyway, and Eli has been a bit of a sitting duck. Nothing is more important for this Chiefs team than getting their pass rush back. Ford and Hali are out this week, so they need their most dominant player on defense more than ever. Houston has a huge opportunity to take over this game.
Prediction: Houston has 3 sacks against the Giants.
5) Travis Kelce
The Giants are historically bad against tight ends this year. Travis Kelce is a historically good tight end. This could be fun. Kelce as been the Chiefs most consistent, reliable target this season, and there’s no reason to think he won’t dominate in a great matchup against the Giants LBs and secondary that have struggled with blown coverage all season.
Prediction: There will be dancing, as No. 87 has a big day with 10 catches and a TD
6) The New and Improved Chiefs run defense
The run defense is the most popular lightning rod for criticism. But, they have shown they can be solid when they use KPL and the base 34 instead of the auto-dime with Sorensen. The Giants don’t have an elite running game, and should be playing from behind on Sunday. Watch to see if the Chiefs attempt to make the Giants one-dimensional by focusing on the run and forcing Eli to drop back into the arms of Justin Houston.
Prediction: The Chiefs hold the Giants under 100 yards rushing.
7) Not rookies anymore
The second half of the season should mark the rise of several young players for the Chiefs, as they work their way into more playing time and prove they belong. Demarcus Robinson will be featured as the No. 2 receiver once again, especially with Albert Wilson out. He’ll have an opportunity to impact the game with his blocking and should find room to get open deep. Jehu Chesson might be another guy whose playing time gradually increases as the season goes on. He has a chance to help in a possession WR role.
Tanoh Kpassagnon is perhaps the one young player that could impact the defense IF he’s able to earn snaps AND make an impact. He has the freakish physical tools, and has been earning coaches’ praise for his effort to learn. Tanoh hasn’t been able to unseat Frank Zombo...yet. Perhaps this is the week that he starts to turn the corner?
IF the Chiefs are going to make a run and set themselves up for future success, they are going to need contributions and development from the youth on their roster. The guys listed above and other young Chiefs have a real opportunity to shine starting on Sunday. I’ve heard NFL coaches say that by the 2nd half of the season, they “aren’t rookies anymore.” It’s time to see if they have what it takes.
Prediction: Robinson has 3 big catches, and Tanoh gets some pressure on increased snaps.