The Kansas City Chiefs go into Heinz Field on Saturday, August 24 to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers without a win. There are a lot of positives to take out of the Chiefs’ first two games, and a lot of negatives as well. I’ll start with the positives first.
The Chiefs’ defense looks really good. Look for the starting defense to play into the beginning of the third quarter for the Chiefs, and look for how well they move the line of scrimmage. In the first two games, the D-line with Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe and Mike Devito dominated the line of scrimmage, pushing back the other teams’ offensive lines on a consistent basis.
The linebackers swarmed to the ball, and except for the opening play against the San Francisco 49ers, didn’t give up much in terms or run yardage. The secondary was superb as well, with guys like Sean Smith pressing and Eric Berry blanketing tight ends.
This defense will look a lot like the Rex Ryan-led New York Jets did last year under new coordinator and former Jets assistant head coach, Bob Sutton. One big difference between the two clubs is that the Chiefs have more talent to rush the passer. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston combined for 19 sacks last year under Romeo Crennel, a defensive coordinator who preferred dropping them into coverage rather than attacking the quarterback. Look for them to rush the passer heavily under Sutton.
The first-team offense of the Chiefs will run smoothly this week, going against an aging and/or youth-filled Steelers. Look for Kniles Davis to get into the action like last week, and I expect him to get 50 yards from scrimmage in the first half. Also, look for Donnie Avery to produce more than his predecessor, the recently traded Jonathan Baldwin, as the no. 2 wide receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe.
Those are the positives to look for. Now here are some negatives that need correcting: the second and third-team offensive lines need to protect better. Outside of the Chiefs’ top six offensive linemen, most of them will be cut if they don’t show more in the next game against the Steelers. The Chiefs are still looking for their seventh and eighth linemen to fill out their roster. Look for a guy like Eric Kush, a sixth-round pick from 2013, to step-up.
The Chiefs’ second and third team secondary needs work. Besides their starters, guys like Vince Agnew and Neiko Thorpe need to play better. They have consistently been picked on in the first two games, so look for them to pick up the action, or pick up their bags when rosters are cut down.