WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
Good news for the Chiefs offensive line – this weekend's matchup with the Jets is one they can win. New York lacks the appropriate personnel to produce a pass rush from the 3-4 scheme, and their down linemen, outside of Shaun Ellis (five sacks) scare nobody. Kansas City should be able to provide Brodie Croyle with plenty of protection as long as they pick up New York's blitzes – the Jets frequently bring defensive backs from all angles throughout the game to compensate for their lacking personnel.
The rest of it is on Croyle, because the Jets do have a solid secondary, led by rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has been everything New York expected when he was drafted. Revis has racked up 16 passes defensed already, an incredible number for a first-year player, and he's also an excellent tackler. It will be interesting to see who wins the matchup between Revis and KC's own outstanding rookie, Dwayne Bowe. Kerry Rhodes, whom Herm Edwards drafted during his tenure with the Jets, will likely see plenty of action covering Tony Gonzalez.
WHEN THE JETS PASS
Second-year quarterback Kellen Clemens returns to the starting lineup this week, which is probably good news for KC's defense. Clemens is completing just 52 percent of his passes this year and has just one touchdown pass in his last four starts. Even worse, one of his biggest problems appears to be pocket awareness – it's how he got injured against the Patriots two weeks. The Jets have allowed 50 sacks this year – although their offensive line is probably a bit better than that statistic indicates – so this will be a game for Jared Allen, Alfonso Boone (New York's left guard, Adrien Clarke, is a turnstile) and Tamba Hali to tee off on passers.
The other problem with New York's passing game is the talent at receiver. Outside of Laveranues Coles, there isn't much. Jerrico Cotchery is a solid receiver, but not a deep threat, and after that the depth chart really bottoms out with Justin McCareins and Brad Smith. New York's passing game is almost completely centered around short throws, even with Clemens' stronger arm in the game, so KC's defensive backs will be able to sit on 5 to 10-yard routes all game long.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
You really wonder why the Jets attempt to play the 3-4 defensive scheme – they don't have the personnel for it whatsoever. Nose tackle Dewayne Robertson is undersized playing over the center, and New York's linebackers, other than perhaps rookie David Harris, don't fit the look for 3-4 linebackers. Bryan Thomas is an out-of-position defensive end attempting to play strongside linebacker.
As a result, the Jets rank 29th in run defense, and constantly look soft week to week. The Tennessee Titans gashed New York early last week, and the Jets have allowed 9 100-yard rushers this year. The Chiefs have finally found a defense they can run on. Expect Kolby Smith to find some success. Casey Wiegmann might even be able to handle Robertson.
WHEN THE JETS RUN
Thomas Jones recently went over 1,000 yards rushing, but the Jets are about as mediocre a running team as you'll find in the NFL. They don't have the offensive line to run between the tackles 30 times a game, and yet that's what they try to do week in and week out, for the most part. They really ought to consider a zone-blocking scheme, especially with a light left tackle like D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
One interesting wrinkle the Chiefs will have to watch for is the option, which the Jets run with wide receiver Brad Smith, a college quarterback, and speedy halfback Leon Washington. The latter burned the Patriots on a shotgun option play for 49 yards two weeks ago. If the Jets can get Washington one-on-one with Ty Law, look out.
The Jets may be 3-11, but should be proud of their special teams. Kicker Mike Nugent is enjoying another solid season, and punter Ben Graham looks like a keeper. Washington has been a contributor on offense, but his real talent is as a kick returner. He's taken three kicks back for scores this year and averages almost 28 yards per kickoff return.
The Jets insist there's no bad blood between them and their former head coach, but you have to figure someone in New York feels slighted for the way Herm Edwards up and left following the 2005 season. If Eric Mangini, who has never faced Edwards, can defeat him Sunday, it might be a sign that the Jets' new regime has surpassed the old one in some small way.
Herm Edwards joins Frank Gansz as the only head coach in the history of Chiefs football to lose nine games in a row.
Jets 17, Chiefs 14
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