Week 4 Preview: Chiefs Vs. 49ers

Warpaint Illustrated Columnist Brent Bertrand previews Sunday's game against the 49ers.

Week 4: 49ers (1-2) at Chiefs (0-2)

I hate seeing the Chiefs starting 0-2, but I was encouraged by their performance in Denver last Sunday. It was like a breath of fresh air. On the road, in Denver, and the Chiefs allow only nine points? No touchdowns were surrendered by this once-dreadful defense. Herm Edwards has brought a new attitude to the Chiefs. He's convinced his team that they can win on the road. Under Dick Vermeil, the Chiefs couldn't win in Denver, or anywhere else on the road against a decent team. They couldn't play defense. This team can do all of that.

A new era in Kansas City football has begun, and it continues this weekend at Arrowhead against an improved, but banged up San Francisco team.

Series History:

Kansas City owns a 3-6 record all-time against San Francisco, with the home team winning the last six matchups. The 49ers last trip to Arrowhead resulted in a 44-9 blowout in 1997. The last meeting between the two teams came in 2002 at 3Com Park in San Francisco, with the 49ers winning 17-13.

Statistical Breakdown:

Kansas City -

It's been all defense for the Chiefs so far this season. Kansas City is currently seventh in the league in total defense and tied for 10th in scoring defense. Here's a surprising stat: the Chiefs are third in passing defense. Last year, KC was 30th. Kansas City is 24th in rushing defense, but that stat is misleading, as the Chiefs have only surrendered 3.7 yards-per-carry on 70 attempts. Kansas City's improved defense has only given up 32 points through two games.

On the other side of the ball, 27th in total offense is not what Chiefs fans are used to seeing. A lot of factors go into that including the injury to Trent Green, new offensive linemen and a defensive-oriented head coach. But even without Green and opposing defenses knowing the Chiefs are going to run quite a bit, KC is still tied for fifth in the NFL in rushing. The passing offense, as expected, has suffered, ranking 30th in the NFL. If you can't pass, you can't score, and the Chiefs have just 16 points in two games.

San Francisco -

San Francisco's defense is not good. They are 30th in scoring defense, 25th in total defense, and 22nd and 24th in rushing and passing defense respectively. They allowed 34 points to Arizona in Week 1 and 38 last week to Philadelphia. While San Francisco's defense hasn't improved, the offense has made a big jump. After finishing dead last in total offense and 30th in scoring offense a year ago, they've jumped up to fifth in total offense and ninth in scoring this year. Their passing game has improved greatly due to Alex Smith's maturation and added playmakers in tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Antonio Bryant.

The Facts:

• Only 17 teams since 1990 have started 0-2 and reached the playoffs. Two of those teams won the Super Bowl, the 1993 Dallas Cowboys and the 2001 New England Patriots.

• KC owns an 18-4 record at home against non-conference teams. That is tied for first in the NFL since 1995.

• San Francisco has lost seven straight road games to AFC teams.

• The Chiefs have a 14-game winning streak at home when they have a positive turnover ratio. KC owns a 41-4 record since 1995 with a positive takeaway margin.

• San Francisco has lost 15 consecutive road games with a negative turnover ratio dating back to 2001.

• The Chiefs have not allowed an individual 100-yard rusher at home in 16 straight games. San Francisco has won it's last four games when they produce a 100-yard rusher.

• Since 1994, the Chiefs are 23-5 against head coaches making their Arrowhead debut. They've also won 17 of the last 19 games at home against first or second year quarterbacks.

Key Injuries:

For the Chiefs, the only glaring injury is QB Trent Green. He is reportedly OUT for Sunday's game v. the 49ers.

For the 49ers, last Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles was costly. Not only did they lose, but they lost their top playmaker in rookie TE Vernon Davis, who suffered a hairline fracture to his fibula and is out for at least a month. Starting RB Frank Gore sustained bruised ribs on the same play Davis was hurt, and is listed as questionable, but is expected to play. Backup RB Maurice Hicks suffered a sprained ankle but is also expected to suit up. LG Larry Allen is not expected to play against Kansas City and rookie TE Delanie Walker will be listed as doubtful, but says he expects to be available Sunday.

Weather Report:

Kansas City, MO, Sunday, October 1, 2006

Forecast calls for Sunny skies with a high of 83 and a low of 66. There is a 20% chance of precipitation.

Despite the fact that the Chiefs are 0-2 going into Week 4, there's reason to be optimistic. I think the Chiefs will win this game in convincing fashion, but any win would be welcome. Even with a healthy team, the 49ers are overmatched. Kansas City's defense will continue its big improvement at home and will give second-year quarterback Alex Smith fits all day. I don't see San Francisco scoring more than 10 points. As for the once high-powered Kansas City offense, I think we will see improvement. Damon Huard should be more comfortable running the offense and Larry Johnson should run wild against a weak 49er defense. The passing game should be opened up a little this week.

Prediction: Chiefs 24, 49ers 10

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