Chiefs Now Have to Battle the SI Jinx!

Despite the guarantees from Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson that Cincinnati will defeat the Chiefs on Sunday, Dick Vermeil has taken notice of Johnson's <I>'Joe Namath'</I> prediction. So have the experts who seem to agree this is the week the Chiefs are knocked off their undefeated purch. Well the Bengals received some help from SI today after they put the bullseye on Trent Green and the Chiefs by placing their perfect 9-0 record on this weeks cover.

As the Chiefs prepare for Chad Johnson's Cincinnati Bengals, Vermeil will have more than his usual distractions. Peter King of Sports Illustrated did a feature on Vermeil and the Chiefs last weekend during and after their 41-20 blowout of the Chiefs. Green and the teams' perfect record will be blasted from coast to coast.

If the Chiefs survive the Jinx and the mouth of Chad Johnson, then this team is destined for 16-0 and a Super Bowl run.

But all that aside Vermeil knows all to well about the problems the Bengals could give the Chiefs on Sunday.

"I think they're just doing some smart things. They've only turned the ball over one more time than we have and are plus three. Their offensive line is very impressive and they're running the ball aggressively – coming downhill similarly to the Ravens who gave us problems. They're big and physical, especially at the right tackle spot. The guy's big enough to eat hay."

That does not sound like an over-confident coach.

Vermeil understands that the Chiefs are going to be in for a tough game as this is not the same Bengals team of old.

"I think they are a football team that is ascending – getting better as they go into the second half of the season. I think it's a tremendous reflection on Marvin Lewis and his coaching staff. They're a lot better. They're not the same football team – the same Cincinnati Bengals."

For the Chiefs to succeed on Sunday, they have to just play their game. The Bengals will be playing in front of a sellout crowd and they're on a mission to prove they can make the playoffs this season.

Vermeil has a tremendous amount of confidence in his team and he trusts that they are up to the challenge of winning on the road. He also is confident the Chiefs can play better than they did against the Browns.

"We don't take it for granted or do we assume that we go to Cincinnati and play the level that we played the other day. I expect us to play better. We had a great experience, did a lot of things right last week and that should help up be better not worse. Now, we can't take our fans with us, but we expect us to be prepared and ready to play."

The Chiefs defense might have one of their biggest challenges of the season. Yes they have to stop Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick but they have to find away to stop the Bengals running game. Rudi Johnson has taken the reigns from malcontent Corey Dillon and he's filled his cleats nicely. Just ask the Houston Texans who were lit up for more than 180 yards by Johnson last weekend.

Vermeil is well aware of what Johnson can do and he knows the Chiefs will have to watch out for the cutback runs that have plagued their defense in the past.

"He's a downhill runnier with a downhill blocking offensive line. They come off the ball, they don't fool around. They'll test you similar to the Ravens game which was a great experience for us; we broke down on the cutback phase in that ballgame and let some runs that they shouldn't have got through our poor execution. That provided us an opportunity to grow. " Still Vermeil is impressed by Johnson and his numbers of last week were not a fluke. Vermeil knows that Johnson does not have the hardware of some of the backs they've faced but you don't put up those kinds of numbers if you don't have talent.

"He's not as big as a Jamal Lewis but he's powerful and elusive and he can make the 20-yard run. Whenever you get 180-some yards rushing normally you have one good run in there somewhere."

They'll also have to stop Jon Kitna who has been a Chiefs killer in the past and he wants to make an impressive start against Kansas City.

"Kitna is operating very efficiently within the scheme and actually has the best quarterback efficiency at any time in his career. His interception to touchdown ratio is good. "

So for those who think this game will be a cakewalk for the Chiefs on Sunday, better thing twice. Kansas City now faces a tough battle against the Bengals thanks to the curse of being this poster boys for SI.

This might be the toughest test of the season for the Chiefs or it could be a blowout. But despite the potential curse, it's likely the Chiefs will win or lose based on their play on the field and not what appears on the newsstands. It should be noted that the Miami Dolphins 1972 undefeated team was featured twice on the cover of SI. Of course the one thing in the Chiefs favor is the fact that most Kansas City fans don't live in Chicago or Boston. If that were the case, the Chiefs might as well just stay home on Sunday. Top Stories