When the Vikings coaching staff was working through what was referred to as their bye week, they were putting together a game plan that they hope will beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Much of that plan, at least on the defensive side of the ball, was going to be stopping Jamaal Charles.
Clearly, all that changed a week ago when he tore his ACL on a non-contact play and was lost for the season.
Welcome to the spotlight, Knile Davis and Charcandrick West.
Prior to Charles’ injury, he had pretty much been the entire rushing offense among the Chiefs running backs, as well as the only receiving option.
Before he went down, Charles had 71 carries for 364 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and, in the passing game, had been targeted 30 times – catching 21 passes for 177 yards and another TD.
Up until the point Charles was taken off the field, through the first four-plus games, Davis had carried the ball nine times for 25 yards. West had carried five times for 17 yards. West had been targeted four times as a receiver, catching one for four yards. Davis had been targeted twice, catching one for 12 yards.
There is scarce little game footage other than preseason action largely against players who are no longer on NFL teams to get a handle on what Davis and West are going to bring to the table today. But any defensive player or coach will tell you the same thing when it comes to executing a successful game – stuff the run, make a team one-dimensional and let large men pin their ears back and go after the quarterback with bad intentions.
At least with Charles, they knew what they were up against. Many will see it as a huge advantage for the most dynamic playmaker in the Chiefs offense being gone. They should see it that way because it would be like the Vikings losing Adrian Peterson. But with as little as they know about Davis and West facing live bullets, the Vikings coaching staff has game-planned for two players they know very little about, which could make for some interesting decisions in how to attack Kansas City’s offense.
More times than not, when there is uncertainty, bring the kitchen sink. Expect a lot of that from the Vikings today.
VIKINGS-CHIEFS BY THE NUMBERS
- The Vikings have the 31st-ranked offense (2nd rushing, 32nd passing) and the 17th-ranked defense (26th rushing, 12th passing).
- The Chiefs have the 18th-rank offense (18th rushing, 21st passing) and the 26th-ranked defense (13th rushing, 27th passing).
- Kansas City is averaging 344 yards a game (234 passing, 110 rushing). The Vikings are averaging 302 yards a game (165 passing, 137 rushing).
- Defensively, the Vikings are allowing 358 yards a game (232 passing, 126 rushing). The Chiefs are allowing 383 yards a game (285 passing, 98 rushing).
- The Vikings are tied for ninth in takeaway/giveaway ratio at plus-4 (8 takeaways, four giveaways). The Chiefs are tied for 19th at minus-3 (4 takeaways, 7 giveaways).
- Minnesota is tied for 19th in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 50 percent of such possessions (6 of 12). Kansas City is 26th at 47.1 percent (8 of 17).
- The Vikings are seventh in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 6 of 13 opponent possessions (46.2 percent). The Chiefs are dead last at 77.8 percent, allowing TDs on 14 of 18 opponent red zone possessions.
- The Vikings are 23rd in third-down offense, converting on 17 of 48 opportunities (35.4 percent). The Chiefs are tied for 30th at 28.3 percent (17 of 60). The league average is 39.2 percent.
- Minnesota is tied for 22nd in third-down defense, allowing conversions on 21 of 51 chances (41.2 percent). Kansas City is 14th at 38.5 percent (25 of 65).
- Alex Smith has one 300-yard passing game this year. The Vikings haven’t had a 300-yard passing game this season.
- Kansas City has allowed two 300-yard passing games. Minnesota hasn’t allowed a 300-yard passer.
- The Chiefs have two 100-yard receiving games, both by Jeremy Maclin. The Vikings haven’t had a 100-yard receiving game this season.
- Kansas City has allowed three 100-yard receivers. Minnesota has allowed one.
- Adrian Peterson has two 100-yard rushing games. Prior to being lost for the season, Charles had one 100-yard rushing game.
- The Vikings have allowed two 100-yard rushers. The Chiefs have yet to allow one.
- Alex Smith is 10th in the league in pass attempts (173), 11th in completions (109), ninth in yards (1,291), 23rd in completion percentage (63.0), tied for 25th in touchdowns 5), tied for 13th in interceptions (3) and 20th in passer rating (88.1).
- Teddy Bridgewater is 30th in pass attempts (115), 28th in completions (77), 30th in yards (774), 12th in completion percentage (67.0), 35th in touchdown passes (2), tied for fourth in interceptions (2) and 23rd in passer rating (84.5).
- Bridgewater is 25th in fourth-quarter passer rating at 84.0. Smith is 29th with a fourth-quarter passer rating of 77.2.
- Bridgewater is 15th in third-down passer rating of 91.8. Smith is 22nd with a rating of 76.0.
- Having already had his bye week, Peterson is eighth in rushing yards with 372, just 66 yards behind league leader Matt Forte. At the time of his injury, Charles was ninth with 364 yards.
- Maclin is sixth in the league in receptions with 36. Mike Wallace leads the Vikings with 20, which ties him for 52nd in the league.
- Maclin is sixth in receiving yards with 483. Wallace leads the Vikings with 233 yards, which ties him for 51st in the league.
- Charles was tied for fifth in scoring among non-kickers with 30 points (five touchdowns). Peterson is tied for 18th with 18 points (three touchdowns).
- Cairo Santos is tied for sixth in scoring among kickers with 43 points. Blair
- Walsh is 23rd with 26 points.
- Santos is tied for 11th with 19 touchbacks on kickoffs. Walsh is tied for 21st with 13.
- Charles was fifth in yards from scrimmage with 541 (364 rushing, 177 receiving). Peterson is 14th with 464 yards (372 rushing, 92 receiving).
- Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt is seventh in punting average at 48.4 yards. Jeff Locke is 30th at 41.6 yards.
- Colquitt is fifth in net punting average at 43.2 yards. Locke is 11th at 41.4 yards, as the Vikings have allowed just 4 return yards on punts through four games.
- Marcus Sherels is 11th in the league in punt return average at 11.2 yards. DeAnthony Thomas of the Chiefs is 20th with a 7.7-yard return average.
- Only 14 players have enough kickoff returns to qualify for the league lead. Cordarrelle Patterson is one of them and he ranks 11th with a 24.3-yard average and a long return of 33 yards.
- Chiefs rookie Marcus Peters is tied for sixth in the league with two interceptions. No Viking has more than one interception.
- Minnesota’s Everson Griffen and Kansas City’s Justin Houston and Allen Bailey are all tied for 23rd in sacks with three.