Eavesdropping On The Enemy: Chiefs v. Cards

Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans of the individual teams are the true experts on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Each week I'll attempt to find out how they view the upcoming game, how their offense will fare against the Chiefs defense and how their defense will fare against the Chiefs offense.

This week the Chiefs pursue their first road win of the season as they travel to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Cardinals. During the Dick Vermeil era the Chiefs were not a good road team, winning only about 40 percent of the time. Head coach Herm Edwards has made a point of trying to improve that performance. The Chiefs are 0-1 on the road so far this year but showed dramatic improvement in their road performance, losing in overtime in one of the most difficult venues in the NFL, Mile High Stadium. This week I spied on two Cardinals message boards: The Arizona Cardinals Forum at forums.azcardinals.com and Cards Corner. For the first time this season, there were several opposing fans predicting a loss for their favorite team. However, there were plenty who believe the Cardinals will rally around rookie quarterback Matt Leinart and produce a victory.

Cardinals Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

"The Chiefs are the second-best team at defending against the pass. This should allow them to play eight in the box for most of the game, especially since they know that we have a rookie as the starter. That means that if we run the ball when they have eight in the box, we can pretty much be assured of quite a few three and outs."

"However, if they are stacking the box, someone in pass coverage should be open. Boldin, Fitz, Johnson or James. OR Boldin, Fitz, Pope or James."

"I would think it would be harder to stop one of four possible receivers versus stopping one known RB."

"Of course the reverse could completely happen. We have shown no threatening run game so far. So they may load up on pass coverage and completely shut down Leinart."
Flash – Arizona Cardinals Forum

"I don't have any actual data in front of me, but it seems like Leinart likes to swing the ball out to his back(s) way more than Warner. Seems like the Chefs like to bring the heat. I think this adds up to Edge seeing the ball in the flats. If he can make one or two people miss, good things could happen." Ninth Prince – Arizona Cardinals Forum

"Matt Leinart bedazzles the Chefs with his play action fakes ( When is the last time we've seen one of those) to the Edge and torches the Chef secondary for a quick TD to Anquan and the Cards are off and roll." 70s Cards Fan – Cards Corner

"I wouldn't put much faith in KC's defensive rankings...their games have been against two inept offenses, and against the Bengals, it was over by half-time. A healthy dose of Rudi Johnson in the second half. And they've only played three games. They aren't that dominant. They haven't really been tested yet...." az602 – Arizona Cardinals Forum

The Spy's analysis

I used this word when the Chiefs faced the Broncos and I'll use it again now: MISDIRECTION. Everything is sets up for Cardinals Head Coach Denny Green to give the Chiefs a heavy dose of bootlegs and reverses. The Chiefs defense is aggressive and expected to blitz early and often. The Cardinals offensive line has struggled to open holes for running back Edgerrin James or to provide protection for the Cardinals passing game. Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart is making his first NFL start and one of his best attributes is his mobility. While the Chiefs defenders have likely been licking their chops at the thought of a rookie quarterback, they will need to maintain their composure and stay within their assignments to keep from being burned by misdirection plays.

Cardinals Defense vs. Chiefs Offense

"…the defense will put the heat on Huard. Eight in the box to stop LJ..." voodoodenver – Arizona Cardinals Forum

"His name is Jordan Black (WHO ?)… yeah that's right Jordan Black, he will be a highlight reel come Sunday." Bertrand92 – Arizona Cardinals Forum

"Defense has played fairly well so far this season. However this could be a game when they don't." Crazy Card – Cards Corner

The Spy's Analysis

The Cardinals are giving up 145 rushing yards per game. That is the key stat for this game. Herm Edwards' recipe for winning on the road is to run the football, control the ball and keep the crowd out of the game. The Chiefs will need to and should be able to get Larry Johnson going early. If LJ is effective early, the play-action pass should be very effective for quarterback Damon Huard. Huard should also have plenty of confidence after his two-touchdown performance last week.

The Spy's Summary

I said last week's game was a must-win for the Chiefs. In reality, so is this one. Why? Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, San Diego Chargers. Those are the next three teams the Chiefs play after this week. It would be difficult to put together a more difficult stretch of games in the NFL. That being the case, the Chiefs need to win this game. Edwards' next step with this team is to teach them to win on the road. The Chiefs need to show the ability to learn that lesson this week. A 1-3 record heading into the next three games could be a season killer. The offensive and defensive lines will be the key. The Chiefs must be able to run the ball while stopping the run and putting pressure on Matt Leinart.

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