Reading KC's Fortune - Week 4

As our look at the upcoming season continues, we turn our attention to Week 4 and the Chiefs' matchup with the New York Giants.

Overview

The Chiefs' second home game of the 2009 season will also mark their second straight meeting with an opponent from the NFC East.

The Giants put together a 12-4 record in 2008, good enough to earn home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Led by quarterback Eli Manning, they had the seventh best offense in the league, buoyed by the strength of their top-ranked running game. The Giants averaged 157.4 rushing yards per game.

As strong as those numbers are, the Giants might have been even more impressive on defense, where they ranked fifth in the NFL in both yards and points allowed. Despite losing both starting defensive ends – Michael Strahan to retirement and Osi Umenyiora to a preseason knee injury – the Giants ended up with a better defense in 2008 compared to their Super Bowl defense of the year prior.

For the third time in the first four games of 2009, the Chiefs will again face an enormous challenge if they hope to win.


Why The Chiefs Could Win

It's not totally impossible to imagine the Chiefs pulling off an upset. Let's not forget last season, when the 4-0 Giants traveled to Cleveland for a game with the Browns in Week 6.

At the time, Cleveland's meager 1-3 record seemed even worse than it was, given the fact that their lone victory had come over the then-winless Cincinnati Bengals. The Giants had the NFL's third best defense going into the game, while the Browns had the dubious honor of owning the league's worst offense. Worse yet, Cleveland would be without the services of tight end Kellen Winslow that day.

It seemed like a recipe for a total mismatch – and it was, jut not the way anyone expected. Cleveland embarrassed the Giants 35-14, as quarterback Derek Anderson threw for over 300 yards and the Browns' defense came up with three interceptions. The Giants' vaunted defense didn't force a single punt.

The loss ended up being an aberration on the Giants' season, but we'll take signs of hope wherever we can find them. Regardless of how frequently it may happen, the Cleveland game shows that the Giants – like any team – are capable of going on the road and getting beaten by a team they have no business losing to.

At this early stage, another faint glimmer of hope for the Chiefs' chances revolve around the changes to New York's defense.

With Steve Spagnuolo now the head coach in St. Louis, Bill Sheridan has taken over as defensive coordinator. A position coach throughout his career, Sheridan has yet to run a defense at any level. If the transition to Sheridan causes the Giants' defense to take a few steps back early in the season, perhaps it's something the Chiefs can take advantage of.

This game will also mark the first Arrowhead appearance for Eli Manning. Until the last few years, the Chiefs' home stadium had a well-earned reputation as a tough place to win for quarterbacks making their first start.

If there's enough Arrowhead magic left to rattle Manning, and if the Giants' defense isn't playing up to their usual standards, maybe the Chiefs can follow in the Browns' footsteps.


Why The Chiefs Won't Win

Since we just examined a game the Giants lost, we should even the scales and discuss a contest they won. Looking over their 2008 schedule, one game in particular stands out – their Week 12 trip to Arizona.

The Chiefs, of course, now have both of the Cardinals' former coordinators on staff. So more than any other game the Giants played a year ago, that one may be the best indicator of what we can expect.

Despite their home field advantage, Clancy Pendergast's defense allowed 37 points to a Giants' squad that was without two of their biggest stars. Running back Brandon Jacobs missed the game with a bad knee, and wide receiver Plaxico Burress – playing in his final game before shooting himself in the leg – left after the first series with a hamstring injury.

Despite the setbacks, Manning still threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns, earning him a quarterback rating of 127.3.

On the other side of the ball, Todd Haley's offense managed to put up an impressive 29 points, but unfortunately Arizona's running game was non-existent, accounting for just 23 yards.

Kurt Warner had a solid game statistically, throwing for 351 yards and a touchdown. But since the offense was entirely one-dimensional, Warner was constantly harassed by a Giants' pass rush that forced him into 20 incompletions and two costly turnovers.

Ultimately, the eventual NFC Champion Cardinals – a more talented team than the Chiefs – simply didn't have the horses to compete with the Giants that day. Things probably won't be much different when the G-Men come to Kansas City.


Most Likely Result: the Chiefs (1-3) suffer their second straight loss.

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