The Dirty Dozen – Part III

Last week we covered eight of the 12 biggest threats the Chiefs will face on offense and defense this season. In the final part of our Dirty Dozen series, we cover the last segment of the Chiefs' schedule and the four big-time players lurking within that stretch.

1. DT Marcus Stroud, Buffalo

How do you repair a run defense ranked 25th or worse over the last three seasons? If you're the Buffalo Bills, you start by trading for one of the league's top defensive tackles, Marcus Stroud, who previously anchored Jacksonville's impressive defensive unit for years with linemate John Henderson.

How he performs without Henderson next to him remains to be seen, but Stroud is a particular concern for the Chiefs because he'll line up at left defensive tackle, which means in Week 12 he'll frequently butt heads with whomever Kansas City lines up at right guard. As of right now, that spot might be the weakest position on the Chiefs' offensive line. Currently, Adrian Jones (previously a lackluster right tackle with the Jets) sits there. Jones against Stroud? The Chiefs might want to think about a double team.

Stat to note: 3.8 – rushing yards per carry surrendered by Jacksonville's defense over the last three seasons.


2. RB Darren McFadden, Oakland

Yet another rookie makes our list. I don't need to quote McFadden's college statistics or his blinding display of speed at the NFL Combine this year. What makes him particularly dangerous against the Chiefs is just that, however.

When the Raiders and Chiefs get together, the games are almost always close. Last season, the two games between Oakland and Kansas City were decided by a meager five points. McFadden's speed gives the Raiders a player who can change a game in the fourth quarter on any given play. And the Chiefs don't have a defender who can run with McFadden if he gets loose.

Considering the way the Raiders ran roughshod over KC's defense the last time these two teams met, it's scary to think what McFadden might do to the Chiefs. Last November, Oakland walked out of Arrowhead Stadium winners largely because of a running game that racked up 153 yards. Throw in McFadden, and it's a good thing the Chiefs drafted Glenn Dorsey this April. They'll need him considering the only thing Oakland did well a year ago was run the football (6th overall).

Stat to note: 4.27 – the unofficial 40-yard dash time McFadden ran at this year's NFL combine. An adjusted time clocked him at 4.33.


3. WR Brandon Marshall, Denver

It might seem unfair to deny cornerback Champ Bailey this spot, but given the state of Denver's run defense, his impact is diminished (provided the Chiefs find some semblance of a running game this season). Marshall is the real impact player to be scared of when Kansas City and Denver square off this season.

In two games against Kansas City a year ago, "Little T.O." hauled in 16 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs had no answer for the second-year wideout and no defender who could match up with his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame man to man. Bad news – KC's defense still lacks such a player (although a Brandon Flowers/Marshall collision might prove interesting).

When you consider that Marshall's quarterback, Jay Cutler, is entering his third season and Mike Shanahan added a potential franchise left tackle in Ryan Clady this offseason, facing the Broncos' offense could indeed be a scary proposition for many defenses this year. Count the Chiefs among them (particularly with the loss of Jared Allen).

Stat to note: Marshall caught 102 passes for 1,325 yards with seven touchdowns in 2007.


4. OT Jake Long, Miami

We round out our Dirty Dozen with one last rookie – the first pick in the 2008 draft. Why does Long get the nod as the only offensive lineman out of these 12 players? Mostly because the Miami Dolphins are such a terrible football team.

When the Chiefs host Miami in Week 16, John Beck or Chad Henne (whoever winds up starting) aren't likely to drop back to pass 30 times. That means a run-heavy gameplan, and the Dolphins drafted Long just for that purpose.

If Long sticks at left tackle, and the Chiefs stick with Tamba Hali at right defensive end, that's a mismatch. Teams ran right at Hali as a left end last season, and with great success. You can bet the Dolphins will run to the left over and over again if Long and Hali square off this year.

Stat to note: Long allowed one sack as a senior last season at Michigan.

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