The Matchups - Chiefs vs Bucs

Chiefs vs Buccaneers, Sunday, 12:00 PM CDT, Arrowhead Stadium.

WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS

Was Tyler Thigpen's magnum opus in New York an aberration or a preview of future greatness? We'll find out for sure this week as Thigpen faces one of the NFL's best pass defenses in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lack a premier headline defender, but play well together as a team. The Bucs rank second in the NFL with 12 interceptions and opposing quarterbacks have compiled a rating of just 68.8 against them this season.

Tampa is solid at corner with veteran Ronde Barber and Philip Buchanon, and rookie Aqib Talib, a name many Chiefs fans are familiar with, leads the team in interceptions (3). Due to his size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), the Bucs may match Talib up with Dwayne Bowe from time to time, because despite Monte Kiffin's roots in the infamous Tampa 2 scheme, the Bucs are playing plenty of man coverage this year, with an assortment of blitzes thrown in for good measure.

The Buccaneers lack a truly dominant pass rusher in the Jared Allen mold, but second-year end Gaines Adams (four sacks) brings elite speed off the edge. Adams has yet to develop his pass-rush moves, but if he can beat an offensive tackle with his initial burst and gets a clear path to the quarterback, it's game over. The Bucs like to move Adams around, and at some point he'll likely be matched up with Chiefs' right tackle Damion McIntosh. That's a mismatch. Tampa Bay also has an interior pass rush threat in defensive tackle Jovan Haye, an athletic player who logged six sacks last year.

EDGE: Bucs


WHEN THE BUCS PASS

Tampa's ancient quarterback, Jeff Garcia, may be 38, but he still has the legs of a much younger player. The Buccaneers have allowed only 10 sacks this year, and part of that is due to Garcia's mobility. He rarely takes a sack and jumps around in the pocket so much you'd think someone laced his pregame meal with cocaine.

Garcia does a good job of finding open receivers, but because of Joey Galloway's injury, the offense lacks a true deep threat and there's not much of a downfield passing game. Galloway missed five games earlier this year, and returned last week against the Dallas Cowboys, but his longest reception all season has gone for only 20 yards.

Unfortunately, with the Chiefs' anemic pass rush and Garcia's legs, it's doubtful that the Bucs will have many problems moving the ball through the air tomorrow. Expect Tampa to dink and dunk their way down the field, and when the Chiefs ultimately bring the blitz, big gains will result. If Galloway's 36-year old legs suddenly find a burst of speed, it could be even worse.

EDGE: Bucs


WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN

When you watch the Chiefs struggle to stop running games for seven weeks, it's truly impressive to watch a team like the Buccaneers go about it. They penetrate offensive lines and fill their gaps correctly almost effortlessly. Tampa Bay makes stopping the run look easy, and it's no wonder no team has run for a touchdown on them yet this season.

Defensive tackle Chris Hovan is about as stout as it gets in the middle for Tampa Bay, and he'll be a big problem for Chiefs' right guard Adrian Jones. Even Ryan Sims, the much despised former Chief, is contributing in the rotation for the Buccaneers. To top it all off, Tampa is getting great production from fourth-year player Barrett Ruud, who has emerged as one of the league's best middle linebackers.

The Buccaneers hold up at the point of attack, rally to the ball, and every member of their defense tackles well. If the Chiefs gain over 50 yards rushing against Tampa Bay, count it as a major success.

Edge: Bucs


WHEN THE BUCS RUN

Jon Gruden's roots are in the passing game, but he's always loved to pound the rock. With Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn, he has the perfect one-two running back punch to fuel his beloved ground game. Graham is a powerful, stout running back who breaks plenty of tackles with his 5-foot-9, 225-pound frame. He came out of nowhere last season to lead Tampa Bay in rushing and has followed up 2007 with a successful 2008 so far.

Dunn, the veteran, may be 33, but he's still as quick as ever. Combined with a highly underrated offensive line, the Buccaneers present a much tougher running challenge than the New York Jets did a week ago for the Chiefs. By the way, expect Jeff Garcia to scramble for a few first downs today, too. The Chiefs might want to think about spying him from time to time.

Edge: Bucs


SPECIAL TEAMS

The Chiefs debuted a new kicker and punter last week and introduce a new long snapper this Sunday. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers have old reliable, Matt Bryant, who has already pounded 17 field goals this season, and a veteran punter in Josh Bidwell.

EDGE: Bucs


INTANGIBLES

Will the Chiefs find new confidence as they return home after Tyler Thigpen's shocking game in New York? Maybe, but how long will it be sustained? The last time a team with a great defense rolled into Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City was crushed. Bucs' head coach Jon Gruden is 1-2 lifetime against Herm Edwards.

EDGE: Chiefs


PREDICTION

The Bucs aren't about to let a cellar-dwelling team like the Chiefs stand in their way.

Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 10

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