Game Day Match-Ups: Chiefs vs. Dolphins

In a tumultuous turn of events during the pre-noon hours on Thursday, the NFL front office made the decision to have the Chiefs and Dolphins move their game to tonight in preparation for hurricane Wilma.

In order to make that accommodation the Chiefs will have to fly in to Miami later today, get off of the plane and have chapel, eat their pre-game meal and then start dressing to play their game almost immediately.

The travel factor alone trumps every personnel match up in this contest and stands as a monumental obstacle for the Chiefs to overcome. If they can somehow manage to win this game it will be one of those "against all odds" victories that the team can hang their hat on.

Chiefs Offense vs. Miami Defense
When looking at the personnel match ups in this game this first thing that jumps out at you is the battle in the trenches. Oddly enough, when you look at the Chiefs offense against the Miami defense you see that it is strength on weakness across the board. On the left side of the Chiefs offensive line guard Brian Waters and tackle Willie Roaf will be facing tackle/end Vonnie Holiday and Jason Taylor's back up David Bowens.

Most Chiefs fans have had a good enough look at Holiday over the past two seasons to know he is no match for Waters or Roaf. Bowens on the other hand will likely be filling in for an injured Jason Taylor who has been playing the rush end/ outside linebacker position in Miami's 3-4 defense. The All-Pro Taylor injured his foot in last weeks loss to the Buccaneers and has been unable to practice all week. He is currently listed as questionable but with the game moving up two days in advance it is highly unlikely that he'll be able to play.

On the opposite side of the Dolphins defense resides the monstrous defensive end Kevin Carter. It is unlikely that the Chiefs right tackle Jordan Black can contain Carter one-on-one so look for a tight end to be kept in on the right side of the line for most of the night. If this is indeed the case it limits the Chiefs chances of exploiting a match up between Tony Gonzalez and the Dolphins outside linebackers.

The middle of the field should also belong to the Dolphins. Nose Tackle Keith Traylor has owned center Casey Wiegmann in their previous match ups and tonight's game shouldn't be any different. When Wiegmann struggles this will also have an adverse effect on All-Pro offensive guard Will Shields. If Carter dominates at the end and Traylor does the same at the nose, Shields will find himself spending most of his time assisting either Wiegmann to the inside or Jordan Black to the outside. To make mattes worse this would create the perfect scenario for linebacker Zach Thomas to roam unchecked from sideline to sideline and turn in a huge game.

Even with all of the potential problems on the offensive line the Chiefs might find their salvation in the passing game by the end of the night. If the offensive line can give Trent Green the time to execute a five step drop the Chiefs will have several opportunities to take their shots down field. The Dolphin's defensive backs have been less than stellar since Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight both departed from KC.

Rookie cornerback Travis Daniels has taken the brunt of the punishment as it looks like teams have now designated him as the player to attack down field. The third corner Reggie Howard has not performed any better than Daniels and even the once reliable Sam Madison has fallen a notch or two. Eddie Kennison, Marc Boerigter, and Dante Hall are very capable of beating Miami's defensive backs down the field.

Bottom Line >
Let me stress that the Chiefs had better make the most of their opportunities in the passing game because I don't think they will come often. Though the Chiefs receivers have the ability to get open the left side of the Dolphins front seven will be hard to contain when it comes to bringing pressure on passing downs.

In the running game the Chiefs will need to try and neutralize Zach Thomas with fullback Tony Richardson. The Chiefs won't have success in the middle but Priest Holmes should find daylight when running on the left side behind Roaf, Waters, Dunn, and Richardson.

Chiefs Defense vs. Miami Offense
Last weekend the Chiefs defensive found a way to beat a very good Washington Redskins offensive line. If they can perform that well against Washington they should be able to duplicate that day against Miami.

The left side of the Miami offensive line is manned by tackle Damion McIntosh and guard Jeno James. The two journeymen linemen will have their hands full with Lional Dalton, Jared Allen, and Kendrell Bell. Quarterback Gus Frerotte should see significant pressure coming from his left side.

Center Seth McKinney and right guard Rex Hadnot will be going head to head with tackle John Browning and middle linebacker Kawika Mitchell. If John Browning duplicates his effort against Washington he will give Mitchell the opportunity to have a huge game. In Miami's game against Tampa Bay, middle linebacker Shelton Quarles had eight tackles and one assist as he played a big role in Tampa's ability to hold running backs Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to a combined 30 rushing yards on 14 attempts. If Miami continues to struggle between the tackles I would look for a more athletic and powerful Mitchell to put up some pretty big numbers.

The right side of the Miami line could be in trouble if the Chiefs are able to stop the run early. Tackle Stockar McDougle struggled against Tampa Bay's Greg Spires a week ago and both Eric Hicks and Carlos Hall could create some problems for him if they are doing nothing more than pinning their ears back and rushing the passer.

Linebacker Derrick Johnson shouldn't figure much in to pass rushing this week as he will likely have the daunting responsibility of trying to cover tight end Randy McMichael. Although Johnson is a very gifted athlete who has gotten better at coverage on a weekly basis, McMichael is likely a little much for him at this point in his career. McMichael is the one player that the Chiefs will not have an answer for in this game.

In the secondary the Chiefs are gong to have to make some adjustments from the way they have been playing receivers. Until Warfield is back on the field as a full time starter Patrick Surtain has to be matched up with the opposing teams best wide receiver. Due to injury Dexter McCleon will not be playing in tonight's game and without an adjustment this means Dewayne Washington will be the starting right corner. Dolphins receiver Marty Booker is an unbelievable mismatch for Washington so Chiefs fans had better cross their fingers and hope Gunther Cunningham has decided to change the way he's been doing things. If not, Chiefs fans might be begging for the return of Dexter McCleon half way through the first quarter.

When it comes to the match ups in the secondary remember that former Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is now calling the plays in Miami. If anyone will go out of his way to exploit a weakness on the defense Linehan will. Need we remember the Chiefs and Vikings game of 2003?

Bottom Line
Get pressure on Gus Frerotte and make him move his feet. Make things even more difficult for him by playing Eric Warfield as often as possible. Warfield and Surtain can shut down Booker and Chris Chambers. The Chiefs need to get back to the press coverage/in-your-face kind of defense that Gunther Cunningham is known for.

The Chiefs can't be so scared of Randy McMichael that it allows other receivers to get open over the top. They should take their lumps with McMichael but keep him underneath and not let him beat them by himself.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories