On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three things on offense and three things on defense to watch in Sunday’s game.
Protecting the football
The Lions were making a very concerted effort to knock the football out and did it with success, dislodging and recovering the ball from the grasps of Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins and Darrel Williams last Sunday. It’s likely that the Colts will take notice of the inability to hang onto the ball last week and will try to duplicate on Sunday Night Football. The Chiefs have the most explosive offense in football, so stealing a possession or two could go a long way in a Colts upset. It’s certain that ball security has been a focus this week.
Finding success down the field
It was an uncharacteristic performance by the Chiefs in their lack of success passing down the field in Detroit. Things were a tick off for a variety of reasons: inconsistency from the receivers separating, miscommunications, pressure up front and the reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes occasionally misfiring. The Chiefs should have some opportunities for redemption this week.
Running back rotation gets murkier
Damien Williams will return from injury this week. In his absence, LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams ensured the position wouldn’t skip a beat. Darrel was the biggest beneficiary of the available snaps, and he capitalized. You could argue that he deserves to get some touches even with Damien returning. How the running backs are utilized will be interesting to watch this week. It’s worth noting that Damien hasn’t had more than 50 carries in a single season in the NFL. He’s at 22 this year. The committee approach could ultimately benefit him as the season goes along.
Handling the Colts’ zone passing concepts
Jacoby Brissett is a quarterback who will take what the Chiefs will give him. He’ll get opportunities to stress some of the zone coverage concepts that he’ll see from Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. The Chiefs have tried to disguise their coverage with a lot of rotation in the middle of the field to with mixed results. Underneath coverage hasn’t got adequate depth at times. Brissett will challenge some of the gaps in their zone coverage if they don’t improve.
Outside run defense
The Chiefs have had their struggles against outside runs this year, and the challenge will be significant this week against the Colts, especially if Marlon Mack plays. Both Mack and Nyheim Hines could present issues for the run defense on stretch plays. The Colts have one of the best offensive lines in football. The Chiefs’ front will have its work cut out for them, and the linebackers will have to play gap sound from sideline to sideline.
Juan Thornhill’s usage
The rookie safety saw a decrease in his snap count last week. He got pulled on a few instances in the game, including the drive following a Lions touchdown that came on what appeared to be a bust. There are other theories about how he’s being used, like perhaps on more likely run downs/situations, he is being taken off the field. We will get a larger sample size to determine if there are rotation adjustments, and if so, which situations they are.
Arrowhead Pride Laboratory
We went into further detail on these storylines and listed players we’re looking forward to watching on the game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory.