After a disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs will try to bounce back with a game that could determine AFC supremacy. Granted this matchup is in Frankfurt, Germany for the first time ever, what could go wrong? If this last game is any indication, plenty can go wrong for the boys in red.
At the halfway point of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs stand at 6-2. Though they remain the top dog in the AFC, they are being pursued by Sunday’s opponent, the surging Miami Dolphins. I would love to see the Chiefs wash the bad taste out of their mouth after getting destroyed by the Denver Broncos last weekend. It was their first loss against the division rival in eight years. Earlier this season the Dolphins scored 70 points on Denver.
Last week’s loss centered on five turnovers and Patrick Mahomes throwing two picks with zero touchdowns; that isn’t going to cut it. Granted the man was sick with the flu, and trying to gut out a game, but this was one he probably should’ve sat for to get ready for the international game. The Chiefs also rushed for a paltry 62 yards. Those actions or lack thereof, were the main culprits in the loss.
The Chiefs outgained Denver by 35 yards and outpaced them in the passing game with 213 to 87 in net passing yards. The Broncos put up 153 rushing yards on 40 attempts. Did the Chiefs’ defense just crumble under the pressure? Not really but allowing three touchdowns is very unlike this defense. The defense did sack Russell Wilson six times and George Karlaftis was an absolute stud with 2.5 sacks, three QB hits, one tackle for loss, and a forced fumble.
Can Steve Spagnuolo have his squad ready for the Dolphins in time? We’ll see early Sunday morning.
Diagnosing the Chiefs’ ills, I believe, comes down to coaching. At least for this game, Andy Reid was not ready nor were his coordinators in Denver. Perhaps they were looking ahead to Miami. When the coaches aren’t ready, the players aren’t ready and that was evident. Dropped passes, fumbles, muffed punts, etcetera. I talked about this being a trap game last week and that’s exactly what happened.
There are two major problems with the Chiefs offense. No true number-one receiver and lacks a competent rushing attack. You can get cute calling gimmick plays all you want but you better be on the plus side of the score before digging into the bag of tricks.
My hope this week, the Chiefs show the world that they are for real. The Fins have already been tested against two of the NFL’s best teams – they lost both. Their losses came against the Super Bowl LVII runner-up Philadelphia and playoff contender Buffalo. While their wins have been against the Chargers (by two points), the Patriots twice, the Broncos, the Giants, and the Panthers, all their wins have come against teams with a losing record.
Kansas City is only a two-point favorite, and more than a few NFL pundits give the Chiefs a 50/50 chance at a win. While this game is technically not a “must-win”; going into the bye week, the Chiefs could really use a lift. We know Andy Reid’s record coming off a bye is stellar but going into it with a win just generates a boatload of confidence.
The Chiefs should be able to expose the Dolphins for who they really are. Without Tyreek Hill, is Tua Tagovailoa the top passer in the league? Can Jaylen Waddle step up if Hill is covered tight? Don’t forget, Hill has only been gone a couple of years so the Chiefs defensive secondary knows what he does well.
Also, the Dolphins have RB De’Von Achane, who leads the league in rushing yards per game. Can the defensive line contain him? Several tall orders for Spags’ crew.
It’ll be interesting to see how much Spags calls blitzes. Also, calling stunts to get Karlaftis, Chris Jones, and Charles Omenihu into the backfield to disrupt Tua. If Tua gets happy feet and starts to make mistakes, then the pass rush will get to him. Derrick Nnadi should be able to clog run lanes and keep Achane in check. This should be a great test for the Kansas City defense to see if they can contain Miami Head Coach Mike McDaniel’s high-scoring offense.
Let’s suppose the Chiefs get on track early in the game and open up a lead that they can properly defend. What will that look like? If the defense is playing lights out, then a two-score game should be doable. If not, it will be a shootout as long as the offense minimizes mistakes, the run game is effective and the receivers catch balls.
Special teams also need to be on point because it may come down to a kicking game at the end of regulation. Of course, the coaching will be the key to keeping the Dolphins off the field. Open up the running game early. Get Isaiah Pacheco going hard from the beginning. Let’s see if the offensive line can do a better job this week, especially between the tackles. Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, and Trey Smith need to open lanes for whoever runs the ball. I’m starting to lose confidence in Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor to assist with the run game. The whole line needs to step it up and Andy Heck is the key to coaching them up.
Andy Reid and Matt Nagy need to resist the temptation to try the “high risk/high reward” and instead mix things up to confuse the Miami defense. Patrick Mahomes will try to hit the homerun every single time they let him, so reeling in that temptation is key to winning this game. In other words, take what the defense gives you.
As the great Hank Stram would say, “Keep matriculating the ball down the field, rats!”. The more methodical and deliberate the offense is, the greater the likelihood of success. After all, the Dolphins have the 25th-ranked scoring defense and the 15th-ranked total defense. If the Chiefs are able to make the Fins slug it out in the trenches, they will come up victorious.
I’m sure both teams are looking forward to their break. Everyone needs to rest up and heal after a brutal first half of the season. The bye week coming up will give Reid and his staff time to take a breath, retool, and draw up their plan for the final eight games before the postseason begins.
With their post-bye week game being a Monday Night Football tilt on November 20th, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead against the Eagles; it could also be a preview of Super Bowl LVIII.
Kansas City only has two more home games against teams with playoff potential, the Bills and Bengals Thus, I expect that if the Chiefs play up to their potential for the second half of the season, they will hold the number one seed in the AFC for the post-season. All roads go through Arrowhead!
Chiefs 30, Dolphins 27