Pre-Snap Read: Chiefs vs. Giants

After last weekends disappointing loss to the Dallas Cowboys the Chiefs will once again find themselves on the road against a tough NFC East opponent. This week it's the 9-4 New York Giants who happen to be just as desperate for a win as the Chiefs who must win to keep their wild card playoff hopes alive.

Chiefs Offense and Giants Defense

Willie Roaf vs. Osi Umenyiora - Having already faced the likes of Jason Taylor, Trevor Pryce, Richard Seymour, and DeMarcus Ware, left tackle Willie Roaf will now be setting his sights on Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

Umenyiora currently leads the NFC in sacks with 12.5 on the season and there has been no shortage of fanfare over his accomplishments. Many believe he'll have the same success against Willie Roaf as he had against Seattle's Walter Jones three weeks ago. What those individuals fail to realize however is that Willie Roaf is still the best tackle in football and the margin of difference between he and Jones is rather large. Roaf should be able to handle Umenyiora and will likely hold him to his first game without a sack since the middle of November.

John Welbourn and Jason Dunn vs. Michael Strahan - Since re-joining the starting lineup at right tackle John Welbourn has continued to improve every week. He hasn't however progressed to the point were you would expect to see him in many one on one situations against defensive end Michael Strahan. Unless Welbourn is on the backside of the play look for Jason Dunn or Tony Gonzalez to chip in and assist him in blocking Strahan.

Larry Johnson and Tony Richardson versus Nick Greisen and Carlos Emmons - Over the past six weeks the NFL's most devastating running back has been none other than Larry Johnson. With Johnson running as well as he is the last player an opposing defense can afford to lose is their middle linebacker. Unfortunately for the Giants this is exactly what happened.

In last weeks game against the Philadelphia Eagles the New York Giants lost middle linebacker Antonio Pierce to a high ankle sprain. Pierce wasn't only New York's defensive signal caller; he was also the best defender on the field. This is a huge break for the Chiefs and could very well translate in to one of Larry Johnson's best days of running the football.

Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann, and Will Shields vs. Fred Robbins and Kendrick Clancy - Fred Robbins and Kendrick Clancy are perhaps the most underrated duo in football today. Both players are as equally talented in rushing the passer as they are stopping the run. In fact much of the success of the Giants defensive ends can be attributed to the work they do in the middle of the field. Waters, Wiegmann, and Shields had better show up with their "A-game" before they plan on tangling with these two. It should be a real war in there for the entire game.

Trent Green, Tony Gonzalez, and Eddie Kennison vs. the Secondary - If there is one glaring weakness in the Giants defense it is in the secondary. Of the defensive backs only Will Allen might be a name that most readers recognize.

Statistically the Giants pass defense isn't much better than the Chiefs as they come in to this game rated 26th in the league. As long as Trent Green has time to throw he should find a couple of receivers open on every play, this isn't a group of defensive backs that can challenge Kansas City's receivers down the field.

Bottom Line - As long as the Chiefs offensive line is healthy they will be able to impose their will on any defense in the league. It might take a little longer on some teams than others but eventually the Chiefs offense will open up the flood gates.

Chiefs Defense and Giants Offense

Jared Allen and Eric Hicks versus Luke Petitgout and Kareem McKenzie - Neither Petitgout nor McKenzie has been able to practice all week and both are expected to be game time decisions. Even if they are able to play they haven't done particularly well over the past three weeks so the Chiefs should be able to get an outside pass rush on Manning regardless.

Earlier in the week Petitgout's back up Bob Whitfield had the brass to call out Kansas City's pass rush ace Jared Allen. Whitfield told the New York media he was going to smash Allen's punk-ass any time he had the chance, and place him on his backside. Needless to say it probably isn't a good idea to run that kind of smack when your offensive line is already struggling and the guy you happen to be taunting is seventh in the NFL in sacks.

Ryan Sims, John Browning, and Lional Dalton versus Chris Snee, Shaun O'Hara, and David Diehl - It has been a few weeks since Kansas City's defensive tackles have stepped up to be a real difference maker on the field. If they were ever going to pick it back up again this needs to be the week.

The interior of the Giants offensive line seems to be a little soft and while watching them on film they appeared to fall victim to the bull rush quite often. It made little difference if they were pass blocking or run blocking, they had a difficult time keeping the defenders in front of them. Sims, Dalton and Browning need to take advantage of the opportunity.

Kawika Mitchell, Derrick Johnson, and Kendrell Bell vs. Tiki Barber - The Giants will likely try to establish the run early in the game in order to set up various passing opportunities. One such opportunity will likely come in the form of the naked bootleg where Manning fakes the hand off to the left side then rolls back around to the right flat and throws to Jeremy Shockey. This is a play they used numerous times against Seattle and had to have been one they circled to use against the Chiefs if they watched any film from the Chiefs and Broncos.

Needless to say, the bootleg doesn't work if you cannot establish a running game. Mitchell, Johnson, and Bell will need to walk tall and carry a big stick as they patrol the line of scrimmage and scrape along looking for any sign of a run.

Beyond Barber taking hand offs out of the backfield the Chiefs linebackers will also have to be aware of the short dump passes or check downs. This is especially true on third downs as Manning will be looking for Barber sneaking out of the backfield. Kansas City's linebackers have to keep Barber corralled at all costs.

The Chiefs secondary vs. Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey, Amani Toomer, and Plaxico Burress - No one has been more victimized by tight ends in the 2005 season than the Kansas City Chiefs. Every week it seems like another tight end just had a career day against the Chiefs defense. In fact the Giants would be crazy not to throw to Shockey as much as they possibly can because the Chiefs have no answer a big tight end that can do what Shockey can do.

Eli Manning has struggled over the past few weeks and the Chiefs cannot allow this to be the game where he suddenly puts things back on track. A constant pass rush from the front seven would go a long way in assisting the secondary and disguising various coverage's could help as well.

As stated above, look for the Giants to take a page from the Broncos playbook and roll the pocket against the Chiefs. You should expect to see a combination of play fakes and roll outs in an attempt to get Burress and Toomer behind Kansas City's coverage for deep passes.

Bottom Line - The Chiefs defenders have to play sound and responsible football today. Each player needs to worry about his own job and play within the scheme. If the players stop trusting one another and start worrying about someone else's responsibilities this game will turn in to a shootout and the Chiefs will lose.

2005 STATS AND NFL RANKINGS
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Total Offense - 380.9 (1)
Rush Offense - 142.2 (4)
Pass Offense - 238.8 (7)
Total Defense - 342.2 (27)
Rush Defense - 94.6 (6)
Pass Defense - 247.6 (30)
Turnover Ratio - +6 (9)
Pts./Game - 25.3 (6)
Opp. Pts./Game - 22.1 (23)


NEW YORK GIANTS
Total Offense - 357.5 (7)
Rush Offense - 128.9 (8)
Pass Offense - 228.5 (10)
Total Defense - 321.0 (20)
Rush Defense - 99.0 (8)
Pass Defense - 222.0 (26)
Turnover Ratio - +11 (3)
Pts./Game - 26.5 (5)
Opp. Pts./Game - 18.5 (11)

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