Chiefs Need to Capitalize Today

I know this is just one game of a sixteen game marathon but Sunday's NFL match up between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles could be a prequel to Super Bowl XL. Granted both teams are nowhere near playing their best football of the season. That's why today's winner will have the upper hand not only in their division but in their respective conferences.

Kansas City faces a stern test this afternoon facing a Philadelphia team that has guys on the roster who know how to win football games on the road. Counting this season they are 30-10 in their last forty games. That means they've won a bunch of games on the road.

For the Chiefs they've yet to cross over that threshold that makes them one of the elite teams in the NFL. Yes most experts agree this is a team that nobody will want to play down the stretch or in the playoffs. But first this team needs to play like it belongs.

Thus far they've been average offensively and better than average defensively. I'll just throw out the Broncos game for now. Most Chiefs fans didn't think the team could win and Denver and based on the teams performance on Monday Night, they thought the same thing.

That's why this game is so large for the Chiefs. In the NFL a handful of games set the tone for the rest of the season. Thinking back two years ago the Chiefs traveled to Green Bay to play the Packers. It was a game that defined their season and exposed their weakness. The defense made a few plays down the stretch and that helped the offense with the game in overtime. But at that point every Chiefs fan knew that this team had some holes. Still we pressed on but the season ended with a loss in the playoffs.

Now the 2005 version of the 2003 version is not that team but it has yet to display a killer instinct on the field. It's shown flashes it can be great on both sides of the ball. Especially when you consider the Chiefs are 2-1 despite playing a complete football game is a major accomplishment in itself.

The Eagles despite a handful of injuries to some key cogs on offense will not do anything different today that they've done in the past. They'll throw the ball today and be very effective at it because they have confidence in their players.

The Chiefs offensively don't have that confidence despite being one of the leagues very best. Trent Green, has thrown one touchdown pass this season. Running backs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson have struggled the last two weeks and tight end Tony Gonzalez has been double and triple teamed the entire season.

Wide receiver Eddie Kennison has been stellar while second year man Samie Parker has been both great and not-so great. He dropped a pair of balls in Oakland plus has a fumble. He dropped two more passes in key situations on Monday Night in Denver. He has also made plays in each of the teams first three games that give hope he can be a solid number two receiver for the Chiefs. The team should get a boost today when they unleash Marc Boerigter into the offense. He was the teams leading receiver in the preseason but languished on the inactive list for each of the teams three games in 2005.

Boerigter brings that size and speed that can open up the offense and Kansas City need to do just that today. They need to better utilize their weapons and find ways to get tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Kris Wilson in the offense; not only today but the rest of the season if they intend on being more consistent offensively the rest of the year.

Granted once Willie Roaf returns in two weeks against the Washington Redskins the offense should play better but that's no excuse for playing poorly at times now.

Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes are going to have to each find a rhythm and that's hard to do when each is sharing the rock. But the Chiefs need to come up with a plan that features one player over the other. They need to take the hot hand and ride until it becomes cold then bring in the other back. That might prove more valuable then alternating possessions between the two of them.

On defense Kansas City needs to survive one more week until cornerback Eric Warfield returns from his four game suspension. That's like signing a free agent during the season. Now if they can find someone to replace defensive tackle Ryan Sims the Chiefs would be solid up the middle. I really wish the Chiefs had made a stronger push for defensive tackle Corey Simon. Hindsight is 20/20 but what he's done for the Colts defense has catapulted them to a new level in the eyes of the rest of the league.

Kansas City must develop a better push up the middle and its time for second year player Junior Siavii to make a statement on this team. All he has to do is provide solid relief when he fills in for Lional Dalton and John Browning. But when he's in the game, Siavii needs to show that he can play in the NFL. I know before his injury Sims was much maligned but this team misses his presence on the field. He was a space eater.

On the outside defensive end Carlos Hall needs to stay healthy and show that play making ability that gives him the potential to be one of the games best young pass rushers.

With Jimmy Wilkerson moving back to the middle of the defense, Jared Allen, Eric Hicks and Hall need to get to the quarterback from the outside. They did that very well against the New York Jets but the last two games it has not been very strong. Even if they don't sack the quarterback they need to knock him down.

Plus Kansas City has to unleash its linebackers. All four of them, Kendrell Bell, Derrick Johnson, Kawika Mitchell and Kris Griffin have speed and they need to be allowed to run more and attack the line of scrimmage.

In the secondary, Sammy Knight and Greg Wesley need to play with more aggression and make receivers pay when they come over the middle or they catch the ball. Both are solid at stopping the run but I'd like to see the Chiefs blitz their safeties more often.

That's why today's game against the Eagles is so important for the Chiefs. If Kansas City can work on some of those things this afternoon and pull out a victory, they can play with even more confidence after the bye week.

If that happens, then the Chiefs will have put the toughest part of their season behind them with a 3-1 record.

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