On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three focus points on offense — and three on defense — as the Kansas City Chiefs seek to win their tenth game of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here are the focus points to watch on Sunday:
Will the Chiefs try to run the football?
During the last few weeks, the Chiefs haven’t exactly used a balanced game script — but they haven’t needed it. Andy Reid has elected to put the ball in the hands of the best player in the world — Patrick Lavon Mahomes — and let him distribute the ball through the passing game. The Buccaneers have one of the better run defenses in the league, so it may be best for the Chiefs to attack them with their strength: passing the ball.
Can the Chiefs get vertical?
Last week, the Chiefs didn’t have much success getting the ball downfield vertically; the Raiders did a good job of keeping a lid on the Kansas City offense. The Chiefs countered with long, sustained drives to the tune of the 35 points — five touchdown-scoring possessions. This could be a good week for the Chiefs to challenge down the field against Tampa Bay’s long, athletic and aggressive cornerbacks; they might not be as committed to selling out to limit explosive plays.
Continue pass protection
Against Las Vegas, the Chiefs fared well with their pass protection, giving Mahomes ample time to find open receivers. That needs to continue against a better pass rush than they saw during Sunday night’s game. For large stretches of the season, the offensive line has been pieced together. If they they can continue to play well through this week, that’ll be huge for Kansas City’s ability to put points on the board.
Tackling in the screen game
The Buccaneers have been focused on getting Tom Brady easy completions by giving their talented playmakers opportunities with screen plays on the edges. Forcing the Chiefs’ back seven to tackle could be a good strategy for Tampa Bay; against the Raiders, that was a big black eye in a rough performance. The Chiefs will need to tackle better — and the Bucs might challenge them to do just that.
Brady has not performed as well when his plan is altered — that is, when he’s forced to re-adjust his feet and play off-schedule in any way — and the best way to get after him is with interior pressure. The Chiefs’ problem is that lately, they haven’t generated consistent pressure anywhere. After a rough stretch, this is a big opportunity for Chris Jones (and the rest of the defensive line) to break out.
Can the Chiefs play single high coverage?
The Buccaneers present a wide variety of weapons with which Brady can attack a defense. So how will the Chiefs try to handle all of their talent? Can they play single-high coverages? Or are they going to have to be limited to two-high structures? Against Brady — who loves throwing up the seams against single-high alignments — it might be best to push things outside of the numbers; the 43-year-old quarterback displays noticeable inconsistencies downfield and toward the sidelines.
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