WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
A week after he was brutalized by Philadelphia's blitz schemes, life won't be easier for Matt Cassel against a Giants pass rush that's arguably more talented. While New York curiously only has three sacks on the season, there is the potential for devastation against the Chiefs, who have not blocked anyone consistently this year.
New York's pass rush is all about three players – Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora. Tuck is banged up, but may play against the Chiefs. If he does, he'll line up at left end and play a little defensive tackle on passing downs. Asking the inexperienced Ryan O'Callaghan, who may start for Kansas City at right tackle, to handle Tuck is already a mismatch. It may get really ugly if Tuck's quickness is matched up against KC's interior line.
When Tuck plays tackle, Kiwanuka enters at end. With Kiwi and Umenyiora coming off the edges, the Giants usually don't even bother to send extra rushers. It's rare to see them blitz linebackers, as they know they can depend on their front four alone to get to the quarterback. Umenyiora especially will be a challenge for Branden Albert, who has struggled some this season.
The Giants don't boast huge names in the secondary, but have a pair of athletic corners in Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas. Webster is flying under the radar a bit as NFL cornerbacks go – he had a whopping 24 passes defensed a year ago. New York's best safety, Kenny Phillips, was recently played on injured reserve, but it's doubtful the Chiefs can take advantage. Especially if Dwayne Bowe misses his second straight game with hamstring issues.
WHEN THE GIANTS PASS
Most thought the Giants would suffer this year with the loss of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, but Steve Smith and Mario Manningham have stepped in and New York's offense has hardly missed a beat. In fact, Smith and Manningham are the engine driving the passing game, with 40 catches between them.
Smith hand's are near impeccable for such a young receiver, and though he's not a burner, he runs good routes and gets open. Eli Manning will look for him on third downs quite a bit. Manningham is the more athletic of the two and he could give Brandon Carr some problems.
The Giants have some untapped potential in their receiving game as speedster Sinorice Moss hasn't caught many passes – although he broke out with a long touchdown catch last week against the Bucs. New York will split their dependable tight end, Kevin Boss, out at times.
Manning himself has matured into a more consistent, accurate quarterback and isn't a liability for the Giants whatsoever. In fact, he gets rid of the football so quickly and so accurately, at times he's reminiscent of his older brother, Peyton. Manning has also developed an ability to escape the rush just enough to find open receivers.
The real problem with New York's passing game, at least for the Chiefs, will be their offensive line. They simply do not give up much pressure at all and work incredibly well together as a unit, which includes running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs in pass protection. Given the fact that Mike Vrabel and Tamba Hali have looked below average as the key rushers for the Chiefs, it's doubtful Kansas City will get to Manning.
The only team that has really pressured Manning recently is the Dallas Cowboys. Of the 27 sacks given up by the Giants last season, 12 came from the Cowboys' pass rush. Obviously, the Chiefs cannot boast a group of players who can hope to equal that feat.
If there's a ray of hope for Kansas City, it's that New York's receivers – including the backs and tight ends – have dropped a few passes this year, and Manning at times still has an occasional brain fart. Even so, it's a difficult matchup. Giants' offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has no doubt noticed the success the Eagles and Ravens had against the Chiefs by throwing early and often, and most likely will employ a similar gameplan.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
New York's poor statistics in run defense- 6.1 yards per rush and 121 yards per game – might give Chiefs fans hope, but they are deceiving. The Giants did a good job against Clinton Portis and the Redskins in Week 1 and completely shut down Tampa Bay's ground game last week. A bad game against the Dallas Cowboys has skewed the statistics for now.
What the Dallas game may have revealed is that the Giants, because they are a defense based on quickness and speed, can be pushed around a little by a big offensive line. The Cowboys definitely had their way with New York's front four. Can the Chiefs take advantage?
While Kansas City's line has plenty of size, they have struggled to block anyone in the running game this year. And the anchor of New York's run defense, defensive tackle Fred Robbins, will give Mike Goff problems. Robbins is an underrated player and plays a little like a poor man's Albert Haynesworth. He's strong at the point of attack and is capable of splitting double teams.
With Antonio Pierce in the middle, the Giants are strong up the middle. But the Chiefs know blocking New York's pass rush will be an even more difficult task than running the ball, so look for them to come out and establish the run. Heck, if Ryan O'Callaghan can push New York's smallish defensive ends around, the Chiefs might find some success. But don't bet on it.
WHEN THE GIANTS RUN
The Giants can be conservative with their playcalling at times. Likely, that's because they know even if the opponent has an idea of what's coming, it's difficult to stop. Simply put, New York's ground game is lethal and the Chiefs are in for a major challenge.
Everyone knows about Brandon Jacobs, the Giants' 264-pound behemoth starter, but his backup, Ahmad Bradshaw, might be the bigger threat. Jacobs runs a little lazily at times, and is at his best later in the game when defenses are tired. Bradshaw, though he's only 198 pounds, is built low to the ground and breaks plenty of tackles. Combined with his incredible quickness and a good burst, he's a matchup nightmare.
New York's offensive line, again, is the real problem. They are big, quick and hold their blocks so long that Jacobs often gets away with his lazy running style. He has plenty of time to pick whatever hole he likes. There's no urgency, because he knows his line is going to stick to defensive linemen and linebackers like glue.
The Chiefs are improved against the run, but this will easily be their biggest test of the season. If they can hold Jacobs and Bradshaw in check early, they might have a hope of staying with the Giants for awhile. Otherwise, well over 200 yards rushing from New York is virtually guaranteed.
Former Chief Lawrence Tynes still has a propensity to miss easy kicks. Both of his misses this year are under 30 yards. The Giants have two good return men in Sinorice Moss and Ahmad Bradshaw. Since the Chiefs are still looking for their own threat at returner, Moss and Bradshaw could have a big impact on field position this week.
After their embarrassing loss to the Eagles a week ago, the Chiefs won't want to put on such a poor showing again, especially at home. The biggest advantage for Kansas City may be that the Giants are playing their third straight road game.
The Chiefs are overmatched, once again, at every turn. Last week against New York, the Buccaneers were outgained 10 to 1 in total yards by the start of the fourth quarter. Maybe it won't be that bad this week with Kansas City playing at home, but it's difficult to see the Giants – perhaps the NFL's best road team in recent memory – letting the Chiefs get in their way.
Giants 28, Chiefs 13
The Matchups - Chiefs vs Giants
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