With Berry on injured reserve, veteran Jon McGraw will have all eyes on him Sunday. McGraw has been a staple special teams player but has proven to be a liability in coverage. Opposite McGraw, expect to see more Sabby "Jersey Shore" Piscitelli due to the continuing struggles of second year safety Kendrick Lewis. Also joining the mix will be recently re-signed Reshard Langford.
Detroit features All World receiver Calvin Johnson, who would normally warrant double coverage. The Chiefs may try to see if their $50 million corner Brandon Flowers can go toe to toe with Johnson in order to relieve their safeties some extra responsibility. This is not an ideal situation but one the Chiefs will have to live with in Berry's absence.
If the Chiefs have any hope of slowing down Lions quarterback Matt Stafford Sunday, they have to get more out of their linebackers. Stafford has a big arm and his head coach, Jim Schwartz, has no problem exploiting it. Unless the Chiefs want to relive last Sunday's disaster, they have to find a pass rush that was nonexistent against the Bills.
Tamba Hali had a decent game last week but hardly resembled his form of a year ago. For the Chiefs to leave Detroit with a victory, Hali will need help from the rest of the linebacking group. New starter Justin Houston needs to catch up to NFL speed quickly and Derrick Johnson needs to return to his 2010 form. If not, it will be another long day.
3. Jamaal Charles
The Chiefs cashed in their first ticket to the playoffs since 2006 last season and did it riding Charles to the top of the NFL rushing ranks. If the Chiefs plan on turning their season around, getting the ball to Charles will be the key. Charles had 56 yards on just 10 carries against the Bills.
The Chiefs got away from their running game too early against the Bills, taking the ball out of the hands of their most valuable offensive player. Charles is one of the NFL's most dynamic players, but if the Chiefs get behind early he will disappear. If Charles continues to cough up the ball like we have seen recently, however, he will again find himself on the sidelines in the fourth quarter.
4. Ndamukong Suh
Few players in the history of the NFL have dominated their position from the moment they stepped on the field like Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh did in 2010. Now in just his second season, Suh looks to be one of the most dominating defensive tackles to ever play the game of football.
Fans should relish any opportunity to watch a player of Suh's caliber but unfortunately it comes at Matt Cassel's expense. Although Cassel finished last Sunday's game there's no doubt he's still suffering from cracked ribs. If Suh brings his A game against the Chiefs, Cassel will be lucky to make it out of the first half in one piece.
5. Leonard Pope
Although Pope hasn't made a name in the NFL as a receiving threat the Chiefs need him to do just that in 2011. With the absence of Tony Moeaki, the Chiefs need Pope to fill shoes he doesn't necessarily fit into.
Pope has shown enough through the preseason and again last week against Buffalo, however, that he is capable of contributing as a receiver. If the Chiefs can present Pope as a legitimate threat that opposing defensive coordinators must account for, receivers Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston will have a chance to make plays. Pope doesn't need to be Moeaki, but he needs to earn the respect of opposing defenses.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Can these five lead KC to victory on Sunday?
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