Chiefs offensive rankings
Points scored: 29th (13.9)
Total offense: 27th (304.2)
Rushing offense: 10th (121.4)
Passing offense: 27th (182.8)
Skill position players
QB Tyler Palko, QB Kyle Orton, RB Jackie Battle, RB Thomas Jones, RB Dexter McCluster, FB Le'Ron McClain, WR Dwayne Bowe, WR Steve Breaston, WR Jonathan Baldwin, TE Leonard Pope, TE Anthony Becht
Starting QB Matt Cassel went down with a hand injury in Week 10. Palko has taken over under center the past two weeks and has thrown 6 INTs compared to 0 TDs. He also lost a fumbled snap. Orton was claimed off waivers last week and only has a handful of practices under his belt. They split reps in practice this week. Palko will start the game but he'll be on a ridiculously short leash. His first turnover, or even his first bad series, will likely lead to him getting the hook. Palko struggles with accuracy and decision-making, but he's a threat to run the ball. Orton is a pocket passer that, when given time, can eat up an opposing defense. He has a hard time creating plays on his own when protection breaks down.
RB Jackie Battle
John Rieger/US Presswire
The Chiefs use Battle as the starter and main ball carrier, yet all three are rotated in throughout the game. Battle is a power back that, through 10 weeks, had earned more than 65 percent of his rushing yards after contact. He leads the team in rushing yards and will receive the bulk of the carries. Jones will be inserted occasionally but his days as a productive 15-carry running back are behind him. McCluster is used mainly on third downs and is dangerous in the open field. He's fourth on the team in receptions.
Bowe is Kansas City's biggest threat in the passing game. He leads the team in nearly every receiving category, including receptions (55), yards (819), receiving average (14.9), 20-plus gains (14), yards per game (74.5), yards after the catch (222), first downs (38) and touchdowns (4). Athletically, he's one of the most-talented wideouts in the league. His blend of size (6-2, 221), quickness and speed can cause fits for opposing defenses. Breaston provides a decent secondary weapon and is used mainly as a possession receiver. Baldwin is a big rookie (6-4, 230) who missed the first five games of the season due to injury, yet he's still third on the team in receiving yardage (165). He's a dangerous downfield threat.
Pope is a veteran pass catcher who doesn't pose much of a threat in the middle of the field. He usually catches about 2-3 passes per game and has just 1 TD on the season. Becht hasn't caught a pass all year and used solely as a blocker.
The Chiefs are a run-first team and this front five is at their best opening holes for rushers. As a unit, they've been decent protecting the quarterbacking, giving up 27 sacks so far, 17th best in the league.
Albert doesn't have outstanding lateral quickness but he makes up for it with solid technique. Lilja is still dealing with a head injury but it appears he'll start Sunday. He's an undersized guard (6-2, 290) yet he makes up for it with quick feet, agility and body control. He won't move the big defenders around but he understands how to use angles and leverage to get defenders blocked.
C Casey Weigmann
Weigmann is a 16-year veteran who has seen and done it all. He's been a full-time starter the past 13 seasons. Like Lilja, he's slightly small for the position (6-2, 285) but he knows how to block. He won't overpower anyone but there are few centers in the league craftier than Weigmann.
Richardson is a second-year starter who is still learning the position. He shows limited lateral range in pass protection and lacks intensity in the run game. He's the weak link in this unit. Asamoah is a first-year starter. He has a wide base and can anchor against the bull rush but he's limited at the second level. When in space, balance becomes an issue for him. He can struggle against quicker defensive tackles.
Chiefs defensive rankings
Points allowed: 24th (24.1)
Total defense: 29th (359.0)
Rushing defense: 26th (133.7)
Passing defense: 12th (225.3)
Turnover ratio: 24th (-5)
The Chiefs run a 3-4 scheme. The three down linemen serve as space eaters, clogging up lanes and occupying offensive linemen so the team's linebackers can make plays. The starting three have combined for just one sack on the year so far. Dorsey is the quickest of the starters and would fit better in a one-gap, under tackle role in a 4-3. He's fast off the ball and has powerful hands. Gregg is a 12-year veteran who is a rock in the middle of the line. He's not all that agile but he knows how to squat and anchor against the run. Jackson is limited athletically and doesn't change directions well. He has a strong upper body but he struggles with effort and consistency.
Johnson is a seven-year veteran and the stalwart of this group. He's an explosive athlete with good initial quickness, agility and overall speed. He leads the team in tackles (92) and tackles for los (5). Belcher is nowhere near the player Johnson is but he's growing into a solid middle linebacker. He packs a punch and tackles very well, yet he lacks lateral range. He's at his best in pass coverage, where he shows great ability in reading the quarterback's eyes.
Hali is the team's pass-rushing linebacker and plays more like a defensive end. He leads the team with 7.0 sacks, tied for sixth-most in the AFC, and five more than any other player on his team. He comes early and he comes hard off the edge, mainly from the play's left side. The six-year veteran can beat offensive linemen with both his quickness and from a pure power standpoint. He's a crucial cog in Romeo Crennel's defense. Houston is a rookie who has been wildly inconsistent this year. He's flashed his athletic ability at times but has been non-existent for much of the season.
CB Brandon Flowers
John Rieger/US Presswire
Flowers is one of the elite corners in the NFL. He can shutdown even the best receivers in the league. He has quick feet, shows great fluidity turning his hips and has the speed to run with anyone. He has great awareness and instincts in zone coverage. He's not a big corner (5-9, 187) but he plays fast and hard, and is aggressive when the ball is in the air. He leads the team in interceptions (4). Carr is a bigger, more-physical back who is good in run support. He's good at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and shows solid vision in zone coverage. He can struggle with fast receivers and is too easily beat by double moves. Arenas serves as the nickel corner. He's a quick player who is at his best covering underneath routes. He struggles downfield, lacks top-end speed and has a hard time matching up against bigger receivers.
Lewis is your prototypical center fielder. He is good at reading the quarterback's eyes and reacting quickly once the pass is in the air. He is second on the team in interceptions (3), returning one pick 59 yards for a TD. McGraw doesn't play as big as most strong safeties and is better in coverage than in run support. He's better suited at free safety. He's not that athletic and doesn't have great speed. He's easily the weak link in the secondary.
P Dustin Colquitt, K Ryan Succop, PR Javier Arenas, KR Dexter McCluster
Colquitt is a mid-level punter. He's 14th in the league in punting average and his 17 punts inside the 20 are 11th in the NFL. He gets solid hang time on his kicks – the Chiefs have forced a league-high 19 fair catches this year. Succop also is mid-tier. He ranks 16th in field goal percentage (84.2). He has good accuracy from deep, converting both of his attempts this year from more than 50 yards.
Arenas is third in the NFL with a 14.8 punt return average. He has good field vision and great speed. He hasn't returned a kick for a TD yet but it seem like it's only a matter of time before he will. McCluster is a dangerous returner with great speed. Yet he doesn't show great vision on returns. His 23.4 kick return average is 19th in the NFL.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.