The Kansas City Chiefs begin the 2012 NFL preseason tonight at 7 PM CST when they host the Arizona Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs open as a slight 2.5 point favorite in Las Vegas, with the Over/Under on the game (projection of total points scored by both teams) set at 34.
Oddsmakers customarily give a home team a three-point cushion, so the nudge to 2.5 indicates some preference for Arizona on the Strip, a factor which could be influenced as much by more Arizona residents in Vegas to bet, as it could by actual football considerations.
But the Cardinals do have one significant edge coming into tonight and it’s that they have played a game already, last Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Hall of Fame Game. Furthermore, the areas the Chiefs are looking at the most—the cohesiveness of the new-look offensive line with tackle Eric Winston and center Rodney Hudson—are known for taking a little more time to develop.
Arizona’s coaches were not happy with the sloppy play exhibited by the starting defense last Sunday, specifically some poor tackling. The Cardinals have a nice collection of defensive talent, particularly up front where nose tackle Dan Williams is difficult to move and Calais Campbell is a quality defensive end. While media attention is going to be focused on the quarterback battle between John Skelton, tonight’s expected starter, and Kevin Kolb, it’s more important that the defensive fundamentals improve.
On balance, I think it’s going to be tough for Kansas City to have success in this game. The Chiefs are just looking to get the injured players from last year (Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki) on to the field and start getting the offensive line playing together. Arizona’s already got their feet wet.
Most fans already give the preseason minimal consideration, but if Kansas City struggles tonight, even less concern than that should be exhibited.
Follow me on Twitter @DanFlaherty