Watch Out For Rudi

Sunday, the Chiefs get to start the season against one of the NFL's most prolific offenses in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs get a break in getting the game at home, but if last season was any indication, the Bengals may feel just as comfortable on the road as they do in Cincinnati.

Last season, on the way to an 11-5 record and an AFC North title, the Bengals were 6-2 on the road, fueled by their powerful and versatile offense. With studs like quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmanzadeh, the passing game gets a lot of attention, but without running back Rudi Johnson, the team wouldn't have been nearly as successful.

"It's not talked about as much because of the quarterback", said Chiefs' head coach Herm Edwards. "Their offense is very good. They score almost 26 points a game on the road. They're running over 100 yards on the road. They've got a very good running back, a tough guy. He can break tackles."

After watching film, Chiefs' linebacker Derrick Johnson agrees. Rudi Johnson is known as a power back, but he has the ability to make people miss. Johnson pounded and slithered his way to 1,458 yards with 12 touchdowns last season. His ability to grind it out on the ground allows the Bengals to take shots down the field, usually with success. When you know you're going to get over four yards a carry, it makes the decision to go downfield that much easier.

"He's a power back," said Johnson. "He can run you over, but he has shifty feet. Rudi Johnson's going to be in there the whole time, so we've got our hands full with the running game."

The Bengals powered their way to a strong road record by controlling the clock and forcing teams out of their offensive gameplans. The Bengals put up points in bunches before feeding Johnson and shortening the game with the run. This season looks to be no different.

"They looked good on offense, especially against that Green Bay defense," said Johnson. "They picked them apart. They did everything they wanted to do. They can run and pass."

The Chiefs' defense is going to have to be prepared for anything early, but if Cincinnati gets out to an early lead, they can expect a huge dose of Rudi Johnson in the second half. Once the Bengals get into that mode, it'll be tough to get them off the field. In the first and second quarter, the Chiefs have to be ready, because there's no telling what the Bengals are going to do.

"They can score from anywhere on the field," said Edwards. "The quarterback's got an arm that can throw out of the stadium. They've got receivers that can jump up and catch it. They got an offense that can go fast, it can go slow. They can run it, they can play action. They can do whatever they want."

When you think of the Bengals, generally you think of the passing game. You think of the football being chucked deep to one of their ultra-talented receivers. What makes the Bengals so dangerous is their chameleon-like ability to adapt and beat you several ways.

If the Chiefs can control Rudi Johnson, they should be able to control the clock, which would give them a great chance to win. Of course, that's easier said than done.

"I think they're very, very balanced," said Edwards. "That's what makes them so good, and they play well together as a football team. Their offense does a great job making plays through the air and running the football."

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