With the loss of wide receiver Stephen Smith and running back Stephen Davis, the Panthers offensive game plan rests soley on quarterback
Jake Delhomme and back-up running back DeShaun Foster. Neither is as gifted without the aforementioned injured starters and they'll face a hungry defense in Kansas City that wants to show last weeks loss in Denver was a fluke and not a trend.
The Chiefs will have a couple of new starters today. Rookie Safety Willie Pile will step up at safety for the injured Greg Wesley. Defensive end John Browning will take over for Vonnie Holliday and rookie Jared Allen will back him up.
That means rookie Junior Siavii will get play more nose tackle and be part of the rotation with Lional Dalton who has yet to show the prowess the Chiefs had hoped when they signed him as their loan defensive free agent. Siavii had a good game against the Broncos.
Another defensive player on the hot seat is Defensive tackle Ryan Sims who needs to play well against the Panthers on Sunday. The Carolina offensive line is not that solid and he needs to shoot the gaps and set the tone for the defense. Without penetration up the middle, the Chiefs defense can't put the kind of pressure on Delhomme that they need and that means Foster could also see a lot of open spaces and he can make big runs.
The Chiefs have to a better job against the run than they did last week in Denver. If they don't it could be a long afternoon. Now the Panthers are not knows for using boot-legs but they could try a few play action passes and the Chiefs have to be ready for that and be aggressive.
The Panthers really don't have a solid group of receivers with Smith on the sideline. They'll start rookie Keary Colbert and Muhsin Muhammed and that bodes well for the Chiefs secondary to play aggressive man to man.
One of the biggest surprises from last week's loss in Denver was the lack of aggressive play by the Chiefs cornerbacks. They played too far off the receivers and that killed their chances at being effective. That won't happen this week as they should be more aggressive.
On offense the Chiefs need to establish the rush with Priest Holmes and get the ball into the hands of tight end Tony Gonzalez. Trent Green has to play within himself and use his weapons better. Too often last weekend he made poor throws and forced the ball into places that spelled incomplete passes. Green for all of his marvel and skills as a leader must rely on his bread and butter.
Expect the receivers to run crisper routes than they did last week and I look for rookie Richard Smith to get some opportunities to show that his pre-season was no fluke. The young receiver has talent and can make plays and its high time the Chiefs use him in their offense.
This should be a relatively easy victory for the Chiefs with the Panthers offense in disarray. The Carolina defense is stacked with all-pro performers but if Kansas City can break out into a 14 point lead early that should put them over the top and get them back on the winning track.