When I was in junior high I liked to play basketball, and although I was not very good personally, I remained just a little too competitive about it the whole time. One time, we were in a tournament where we lost our first two games handily. It was pretty clear that we were outmatched. Our reward? We got to play in another game, this time with 7th place on the line! I always found it odd that we had to play it out to determine who was worst when we were both obviously bad, and yet here we are, doing the exact same thing this week in the NFL. The 0-3 Chiefs and the 0-3 Vikings have both taken uniquely frustrating routes to get where they are, but this week (barring a tie), one of them is going to burst into the win column with a yet elusive victory over the other.
The real question is “Who?” since both teams have such obvious, glaring, systematic flaws through the first three weeks of play. I can find no other way to sort this out than to go through the game from the perspective of both teams, and see who’s scenario for winning seem to make more sense. So, without further ado, we present our take on an epic clash of winless foes in Week 4:
The Chiefs Win IF…..
QB Matt Cassel can string together his best game of 2011. This will be a challenge on a couple of fronts, but it shouldn’t be tough for Cassel, seeing as he presides over the NFL’s 2nd worst and will be going up against the 29th ranked passing attack that the Vikings present. They give up an average of 299 yards per game, and although Cassel may not get that high, he needs to reach 250 or so to give the Chiefs a chance on offense.
RBs Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster find open space. This will be tricky, simply because the Vikings have been VERY stout against the run, and with Jamaal Charles on injured reserve, there are very few who believe that the Chiefs’ running game will continue to be a bright spot for them. If these backs can work in tandem and pick up 130 or more total yards, it will bode well for the Chiefs at home.
Kansas City’s Defense can contain Adrian Peterson. No one but Leslie Frazier has been able to really limit AP’s effectiveness all year, and the Chiefs will have to at least contain him in order to have a chance. Then again, if Frazier continues to ignore his franchise back late in games, the Chiefs might get their work done for them by Frazier’s offensive play-calling staff.
The Vikings Win IF…..
RB Adrian Peterson runs all day. By that we mean “if Leslie Frazier doesn’t take away carries seemingly without cause after halftime”. Look, the Chiefs are not great against the run, nor are they that strong against the pass for that matter, but the Vikings can leverage their biggest strength to keep Kansas City on its heels IF they insist on running the ball the entire time. I don’t think that 20 or fewer pass attempts by Donovan McNabb would be a negative at all if it means that the Vikings can run it 40 times for 180-200 yards.
The Defensive Secondary keys on WR Dwayne Bowe. Take away the biggest passing weapon in a below average passing attack, and you are going to win. It’s really that simple. If you can limit Dwayne Bowe, you handicap the Chiefs without Charles, and that needs to happen if Minnesota is to win.
They commit fewer penalties than KC. This is a particularly big deal on the road and in Arrowhead Stadium, because the crowd can be unnervingly loud, and I get that they may not be super-enthused about an 0-3 team, but you’d be surprised. It’s always a loud place, and always a tough place to win. Penalties are a self inflicted route to sure defeat at Arrowhead, so the Vikings must avoid them at all costs.
This game will be close. Both teams are struggling to find both consistency and an identity, and the win will go to whoever establishes their will over the other one first. I have to blame this pick on Leslie Frazier, since he’s shown little in the way of resiliency when it comes to game planning……
Chiefs win a nail-biter at home, 24-17.
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