Insight from the Real Experts: KC vs. Miami

It's time once again for our weekly conversation with the real experts of the Chiefs upcoming opponent, the fan who follows the team day in and day out. The Chiefs seek to prove that they have successfully righted the ship after breaking their two game losing streak with a 28-21 victory over the Washington Redskins. This week the Chiefs are scheduled to travel to Miami to take on the Miami Dolphins on Friday Night.

Miami enters the game with a 2-3 record. However, the Dolphins are 2-0 at home meaning the Chiefs will have to take their best game to Miami. It will be a tough task for the Chiefs who are forced to travel on game day because of the impending path of Hurricane Wilma.

Our panel of Dolphins experts consists of the following:
• Craig Monti, a 33 year-old law enforcement professional from southern California, a Dolphins fan for 21 years.
• Chris Spadaccino, 29 years old and self employed from Seminole, Florida, a Dolphins fan for 22 years.
• James Pappas, a 32 year old business owner from Billerica, Massachusetts, a Dolphins fan for 29 years.
• Sean McKinney, a 25 year old Head of Rentals for a Ford Dealership from Wichita, Kansas, a Dolphins fan for 22 years.

Our panel of experts believe the Dolphins wide receivers and tight end Randy McMichael have a distinct advantage over the Chiefs secondary. While they will admit that the play of their quarterback, Gus Frerotte is somewhat suspect, they believe their passing game can soften up the Chiefs run defense for Ricky Williams and rookie Ronnie Brown. It's the feeling of our panel that their offense combined with their strong defense plus home field advantage will lead to a Dolphins victory.

Question: What aspect of the Dolphins attack do the Chiefs not have an answer for?
Answer: "I think that the Chiefs won't have an answer for Randy McMichael. I think he is the key for our offences success. I predict that the chiefs will do as all of our opponents have done, which is put 8-9 men in the box and dare us to pass. If Randy can get a few catches early in the game it's going to help our outside receivers get one-on-one coverage because the safeties can't cheat and they're going to have to respect McMichael in the middle." – Chris Spadaccino

"If this were a road game, I'd say there is nothing about the Dolphins that could stymie the Chiefs. But the 2 games they've played at home, the passing game has been very effective. When Miami's receivers get into a rhythm, combined with McMicheal and either Ricky Williams' or Ronnie Brown's pass-catching abilities, they can move the ball quickly and effectively. So far, at home they've been successful." – James Pappas

"I think KC will have a very difficult time with the number of good receivers they'll have to cover. The obvious is Chambers and Booker. However Wes Welker (2nd year out of Texas Tech) has been a go to guy and is much in the mold of Orande Gadsen. He has great hands, a good route runner and is very good after the catch. This is also why he is our punt and kickoff return man. Even if the KC LB's can pick up Welker in the slot you still have to worry about Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams who did prove one thing last week and that is that he can still catch the ball. KC's LB's will have all they can handle with so many extra receivers to handle." – Sean McKinney

Analysis: I asked this question last week and I feel compelled to ask it again: "Can you blame these experts?" The Chiefs pass defense ranks 30th in the NFL and has surrendered two consecutive 300 yard passing games. They have also had a wide receiver amass over 120 yards receiving against them in four of their five games, with the last two getting over 170 yards. Ironically, the damage has been confined to one side of the field. Patrick Surtain, who the Chiefs acquired in trade from the Dolphins prior to the 2005 draft, has been outstanding and very few receptions have come on his side of the field. It is imperative that the Chiefs secure the other side of the field if they are to make a run to and through the playoffs. Dexter McCleon has manned that side of the field for the first 5 games and has been the target of opposing offenses. However, he strained his hamstring against the Redskins. Eric Warfield, the Chiefs best cornerback in 2004, is back with the team after serving a league mandated four game suspension. He was inactive against the Redskins but should see extensive action against the Dolphins.

Question: What aspect of the Chiefs concerns you the most?
Answer: "I have a few concerns about the chiefs. With W. Roaf back from injury it strengthen KC's line and enables Tony Gonzales to get more involved in the passing game.. I know Gonzo is due for a break out game and I'm hoping it's not against us. My other concerns are Holmes and Johnson. Both backs are big play guys that can take it to the house any time they touch the ball. They are each a major concern if Seau cannot come back from his calf injury; Seau is great against the run and rarely chooses the wrong angle. Our front seven has been great against the run with the exception of the two big runs they gave up against Tampa. If we let Priest and Johnson get off to a good start if could really set up the play action pass, which KC does really well. "– Chris Spadaccino

"I think Miami is going to have a tough time against the KC offense. Miami's run defense has been very good so far. They have young talent if any at all in the secondary, and pass coverage for the LB hasn't been very good so far, either. Zach Thomas and Junior Seau have not been on the same page this year in coverage. It could be a very long day, especially if Gonzalez can get going. With a team as balanced offensively as the Chiefs, Nick Saban is going to have to come up with a heck of a game plan to neutralize just one dimension of KC's offense, never mind both. If Green starts spreading the ball around, like every team except Denver has been able to do, Holmes and Johnson will get their yards and Miami will only win in a shootout." – James Pappas

"Normally I'd say our right side of our secondary is what worries me the most but with Green's annual slow start and the lack of receptions by TE Gonzalez I as a dol-fan fear that awesome KC OL and with Roaf back in the mix stopping the run will indeed be a major key to winning the game for the fins. The Dolphins have stopped most runners this year but allowed Michael Pittman of Tampa Bay to rush for 129 yards so adding the fact that Jason Taylor will not be 100% if he plays at all should make for a favorable match up for the Chiefs." - Sean McKinney

"Chiefs running game, The Dolphins coming off a poor performance against the run at Tampa." – Craig Monti

Analysis: The Chiefs offense has not been the powerhouse we have been used to seeing the past 4 years. However, even though they aren't hitting on all cylinders the offense has put up 21 points or more in four out of five games. This offense is due to break out soon. We began to see glimpses of it against the Redskins. The offense had four long scoring drives that netted 21 points. If the Chiefs can get Tony Gonzalez going, the offense should really begin to hum.

Question: This game marks the return of Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight to Miami. Why are the Dolphins better off after trading Surtain and letting Knight go via free agency?
Answer: "In the present we are hurting without them, but it was a step forward for this team for the future, Surtain has lost a step and would have cost to much to retain, The market was right to trade him getting a second round pick was as good as we could have hoped for." Craig Monti

"I don't believe we are better off without Knight and Surtain. The only thing that we have benefited from was creating some cap space for next year. The release of Sammy Knight has not been a huge loss because Lance Schulters has come in and done a great job. The loss of Surtain has hurt us badly. With Surtain we were able to take away an opposing teams best WR. With an aging Sam Madison and a rookie Travis Daniels at the cornerback spots our secondary has been very suspect to say the least. We were able to draft Matt Roth from Iowa with the 2nd round draft pick we received for Surtain but it will take a few years to see how that pans out." – Chris Spadaccino

"Money. That's the only reason Miami is better off. And they're not better off right now. Patrick Surtain in Miami's backfield right now would make Miami worlds better and may have given them another win. But this is Saban's first year. He knows he has some time. And he knows Surtain was the easiest way to free up salary. As for Knight, he just wasn't going to fit in with what Saban likes to do. Flexibility is key. He likes CBs who can spot as a Safety. And vice versa. A good hitting, opportunistic safety is a plus. But his dire lack of speed was his calling card out of Miami. A good player, for sure but he just wouldn't have fit in here." - James Pappas

Analysis: It would appear that the acquisitions of Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight by the Chiefs were beneficial to both teams. The freed up cap space has enabled the Dolphins to begin their rebuilding project and still remain competitive. The Chiefs have gotten playmakers and leadership helping them to compete now. As noted before most of the passing yards against the Chiefs have been away from Surtain and he had a key interception in the season opening win against the New York Jets. Sammy Knight has brought a big hitter mentality and force to the Chiefs secondary.

The Chiefs lead the league with 18 forced fumbles do in large part because the Chiefs are more physical tacklers now. Knight was the unsung hero against the Redskins (overshadowed by Jared Allen's three sack, two forced fumble, and two recovered fumbles performance) recovering a fumble and returning it 80 yards for a touchdown and making a game saving pass deflection on the last play of the game.

Conclusion:
It is never too early for fans to start looking at playoff scenarios. This is one of those games that could have a huge impact on tie breakers at the end of the season. The Dolphins are an AFC opponent so beating them could be huge. Add to that the fact that Denver lost to Miami and the game takes on more magnitude.

Using golf's skins game vernacular, the Chiefs need to win this game to validate the victory over the Redskins. The defense (particularly Allen and Knight) made some big plays to win that game. The Chiefs need them or others to step up and make big plays this week as well as begin to make the "little" plays as a defensive unit. The offense is due to break out and this about the time of year they normally do. The Dolphins gave up over 120 yards to Michael Pittman last week and may be without linebacker Junior Seau and defensive end Jason Taylor.

The Chiefs need to establish a dominating running game, which means the offensive line need to take their game to another level. The Chiefs should also be able to make some big plays in the passing game this week. If they can accomplish those things, the Chiefs should be able to validate.

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