The most interesting match up might take place between the Chiefs offensive line and the Vikings defensive line. Right tackle Kevin Sampson and right guard John Welbourn will be asked to match up against Keneche Udeze and Kevin Williams, one half of what is likely the best front four in the NFL. I have little doubt that Welbourn can hold his own against Kevin Williams (which says a lot about my opinion of Welbourn because I think Williams is the best defensive tackle in the league) so my main concern is how Sampson performs against Udeze. I am also curious to see how well Sampson and Welbourn communicate when they switch assignments or pick up a blitz.
As bad as the Chiefs defensive backs performed a season ago it would be nice to see the starting backfield of Dexter McCleon, Patrick Surtain, Greg Wesley, and Sammy Knight have some success against Troy Williamson, Nate Burleson, Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor. Even with Randy Moss out of the picture, the Vikings will not abandon the vertical passing game, not as long as they have a quarterback like Dante Culpepper. Look for the Chiefs secondary to be tested early and often.
In that same ‘secondary versus receivers' match up I will be intrigued to see Sammy Knight match wits with Dante Culpepper in a battle of field generals. Culpepper doesn't get enough credit for putting his receivers in the right position through pre-snap reads and audibles. Likewise, strong safety Sammy Knight has taken over a similar role with the Chiefs defense so it should be an interesting duel if the two of them try to counter one another.
One particular play that the Vikings use frequently is the quarterback draw. They like to spread the defense, send their receivers deep, and then let Dante Culpepper pick his hole and run 15 yards up field for an easy first down. They might not have much luck using that play when rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson is in the game. Johnson has another dimension of speed that makes him the perfect anti-venom for scrambling quarterbacks.
Vikings centers Matt Birk and Kyle Schmitt will not participate in tonight's game so look for Ryan Sims and Lional Dalton to have great success. It will not be a good sign if the interior of the defensive line happens to struggle.
With veteran Eddie Kennison as the only sure thing at wide receiver for the Chiefs, how will the Chiefs receivers do against a talented Vikings secondary that features Darren Sharper, Fred Smoot, and Antoine Winfield? Will Marc Boerigter and Sammie Parker prove to be the downfield threats the Chiefs are looking for? Who will emerge from the pack of Craphonso Thorpe, Chris Horn, John Booth and Jeris McIntyre?
The Vikings can usually run fairly well between the tackles and running backs Moe Williams, Mewelde Moore, and Michael Bennett will be a great test for all of the Chiefs linebackers. Can Kawika Mitchell perform as well against the Vikings as he has against his own teammates in River Falls? Can Rich Scanlon duplicate his NFL Europe performance? How will Boomer Grigsby hold up in his first real NFL action?
Todd Collins might see time with the first team offense; can he keep his progress up against the likes of the Vikings secondary?
It will be interesting to watch defensive tackles Junior Siavii and Montique Sharpe. Siavii has been on the decline in recent days while Sharpe has been ascending.
Keyaron Fox will be starting at right outside linebacker in place of Kendrell Bell. If Fox continues to make the type of plays that he has during the offseason, Chiefs fans will realize why he has been compared to Donnie Edwards.
The first four cornerbacks on the depth chart have pretty much been decided. Now the final two are up for grabs between Ashley Ambrose, DeWayne Washington, Alphonso Hodge and Justin Perkins.
Ronnie Cruz, Dee Brown, and Sam Gado round out the bottom half of a crowded yet talented Chiefs backfield. It should be fun watching these backs compete for what is likely the final running back slot on the roster.
Kendrell Bell, Jason Dunn, Will Shields, and Freddie Mitchell will not participate in this evening's game.
Preview: Chiefs vs. Vikings
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