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Chiefs vs. Jets preview: 7 things to watch for

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What we’re watching for as the Chiefs line up to take on the Jets in New York at 12 p.m. (Arrowhead Time) on CBS.

1) All eyes on Alex

Whether you believe that QB Alex Smith is THE problem, MOST of the problem, or just PART of the problem, we can at least agree he needs to be better. Watch this week if he can get on the same page with his receivers, regain some poise in the pocket, and attack downfield, whether it’s zone or man coverage. The talent is there, the scheme can work, it’s just about execution.

Prediction: 250 yds, 2 TD no INTs for Alex Smith, who looks more like himself.

2) The Big Uglies

The Chiefs offensive line HAS to take a step forward this week, both figuratively and literally. If I were making the call, there would be a change at LG once again, with Parker Ehinger or Bryan Witzmann getting back on the field in place of Zach Fulton. As you know, I don’t make that call. Even if they don’t make a personnel change, they must play more cohesive as a group, and control the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs must be able to establish the run, and give the QB a minimum level of comfort required to execute the offense. It all starts upfront.

Prediction: The Chiefs don’t make a change upfront, and continue to struggle against a tough Jets front

3) Revis island or target?

Newly acquired former Pro Bowl CB Darrell Revis makes his Chiefs debut this week. Head coach Andy Reid indicated he expects Revis to be a starter. Will it happen this week? Whenever he’s on the field, I’d expect (as Revis does), that opposing QBs will throw his way on a regular basis. Whether it’s been Kenneth Acker, Terrance Mitchell, Steven Nelson or Phillip Gaines, the CB across from Marcus Peters has been among the most targeted in the league. Can No. 24 regain even a fraction of his old form? If so, he could force offenses into a tough spot. Throw at Peters, he’ll eventually make you pay ...if Revis can do the same, watch out. Watch to see how Revis responds when tested against the Jets.

Prediction: Revis starts, gets beat a couple of times, but looks better than he did in 2016, and maybe even gets an interception.

4) Orson Charles

It was a minor move this week when the Chiefs cut Ross Travis and called up Orson Charles from the practice squad. It could actually turn out to be one that makes an impact on the offense and special teams units. Charles is a willing blocker, and has the attitude and athletic ability to be a core four special teams guy. The Chiefs could use help in both areas. Watch to see if Orson Charles can be a role player that makes a difference this week.

Prediction: Charles shows up on special teams and makes some key blocks. He catches his only target for a modest gain.

5) Kareem Hunt

Can the rookie get back on track this week? Through little fault of his own, the Chiefs rookie of the year candidate has struggled to get anything going recently. It seems like a distant memory seeing him running free downfield, scoring touchdowns and racking up yards at a record breaking pace. His speed, power and ability to break tackles hasn’t changed. Let’s see if Andy Reid and the Chiefs offense can figure out better ways to get Hunt the ball with some room to run.

Prediction: Hunt gets 80 combined yards and a TD this week.

6) Who makes the big play?

In previous years, the Chiefs were a big play defense and special teams group, and a boring offense. During the winning streak early in 2017, they were a big play offense, and a bend-and-sometimes-break defense. When the game is on the line, who can they count on to make a big play?

Prediction: Alex makes a couple of key throws when needed, and the defense gets two turnovers to help the cause.

7) Will the Chiefs show frustration or resolve?

During the course of a recent losing streak, some signs of frustration have bubbled up. Travis Kelce’s body language on the field shows he agrees with Chiefs fans who have noticed him running free but not getting the ball. Kelce and Peters reportedly left the locker room without saying much after last week’s game. Teams that bounce back show resolve to overcome their struggles and prove they are a winning team. Teams whose season ends early often let the frustration get the best of them. Which team will the Chiefs be this week?

Prediction: The Chiefs show resolve and win a hard-fought game this week to salvage the season.