Pre-Snap Read: Chiefs v. Bengals

Real football is finally here, and so are the real X's and O's. In this week's Pre-Snap Read we take an in-depth look at what it will take to slow down Cincinnati's high-powered offensive machine and what Kansas City needs to do in order to get their offense up and running.

Chiefs Offense vs. Bengals Defense

Trent Green and Eddie Kennison vs. Deltha O'Neal and Tory James O'Neal and James make up one of the strongest cornerback tandems in the NFL and it's their skills that allow coordinator Chuck Bresnahan to be so aggressive. Quite often, you'll see the Bengals either run a single or "three deep" coverage when they blitz. On Sunday it's the single coverage that Trent Green will be looking for.

What this means for the Chiefs is that Green will have numerous opportunities to find Eddie Kennison and the rest of his receivers when there isn't much safety help for the Cincinnati cornerbacks. Once a receiver gets behind them, you can pretty much count on six points. It's rare to see a defense roll the dice as often as the Bengals do, but whenever it occurs the Chiefs have to find a way to take advantage of it.

Tony Gonzalez and Jason Dunn vs. Dexter Jackson and David Pollack When an offense places a tight end on the line of scrimmage, the Bengals usually line up a linebacker over his nose, creating what looks like a "50" or five-man defensive front. They'll then usually follow that up with a safety lining up like an outside linebacker. In essence this is an "over" formation that's designed to create pressure and stop the run. But with Cincinnati's personnel, running an "over" defense is a dangerous proposition against teams that feature a pass-catching tight end.

Regardless of how the Bengals change things up, Pollack is too slow to cover Gonzalez and Jackson is too small. In these situations, Gonzalez and even Dunn will have the opportunity to chip block Pollack and slip out into the flat for an easy reception (the sideline is vacant because Cincinnati is usually in 3-deep coverage from this formation). While this might not result in big plays, it can translate into easy first downs and chip away at the Bengals defense in a methodical fashion.

Kyle Turley vs. Justin Smith At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, Justin Smith is the type of defensive end that Kyle Turley needs to face his first time out. At only an inch taller and probably ten pounds heavier, Turley matches up perfectly with the former Missouri star.

Larry Johnson and the Offensive line vs. Sam Adams As the NFL's 20th-ranked run defense in 2005, the Bengals gave up 1,850 yards on the ground. Since much of that traffic came up the middle, Cincinnati acquired 350-pound defensive tackle Sam Adams in an attempt to remedy the situation.

Fortunately for Kansas City, perennial pro-bowler Will Shields will have the assignment of neutralizing Adams, a task he's handled before. The two veterans were routinely matched against one another when Adams was in Seattle and the Seahawks were still in the AFC West.

The primary advantage the Chiefs have in Will Shields blocking Sam Adams is what it ends up doing for center Casey Wiegmann. This is because Shields' occupation of Adams will allow Wiegmann to consistently reach the middle linebacker and create large running lanes for Larry Johnson. These plays should result in a minimum of six yards per rush and things can blow even more wide open if Johnson starts having success against the Bengals eight-man fronts (particularly the 50 front we discussed above).

Chiefs Defense vs. Bengals Offense

Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh vs. Patrick Surtain and Ty Law There has been a lot made of the Chiefs conversion to the cover two defense over the past few months, but the less zone the Chiefs play in this game the better off they'll be.

Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh will feast on a zone defense that relies on it's safeties for deep coverage. There isn't a safety in the league that can cover either of them down the sideline. What has to happen instead is that the cornerbacks have to play man-to-man while the safeties remain in a two-deep shell. This allows your two most talented defensive backs to carry the bulk of the coverage responsibility while the safeties merely act as head hunters or assistants.

Tamba Hali vs. Willie Anderson Tamba Hali is an outstanding rookie that probably has a long and prosperous career ahead of him, but on Sunday he's going to be outmatched by right tackle Willie Anderson. At 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, Anderson is without question the best right tackle in football. To place Hali against him throughout the entire game will play right in to Cincinnati's hands.

If the Chiefs hope to get any pressure on Caron Palmer without blitzing, they'll need to run more of the 3-4 Falcon type defense they unveiled against St. Louis during the pre-season. With this type of attack the Chiefs can avoid trying to continually beat Anderson and Levi Jones one-on-one and instead use a variety of stunts and twists that better utilize the Chiefs' athleticism.

Rudi Johnson vs. Derrick Johnson, Kawika Mitchell and Kendrell Bell If the defensive line is slightly overmatched and all four defensive backs are dropping in coverage, this means the linebackers have to pick up the slack for both units. This will be especially important in the run game, primarily because the safeties need to concentrate on their coverage responsibilities rather than inching closer to the line of scrimmage to help the front seven in run support.

Rudi Johnson has rushed for over 1,400 yards in each of the past two seasons, so containing him will not be an easy task. With that being said, he's the Bengals only true weapon underneath, so the Bengals aren't able to stress a defense at all three levels. This will allow Kansas City's front seven to concentrate on Johnson a little more heavily than usual and hopefully give the safeties a break. The success of the Chiefs secondary will hinge a great deal on how this portion of their defense performs.

Injury Report


WR Antonio Chatman (Groin) - OUT

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Heel) - QUESTIONABLE

CB Deltha O'Neal (Knee) - QUESTIONABLE

OLB David Pollack (Hamstring) - QUESTIONABLE

DT Sam Adams (Knee) - PROBABLE

LB Ahmad Brooks (Neck) - PROBABLE


OT Kevin Sampson (Hamstring) - PROBABLE Top Stories