When Jamaal Charles went down four minutes into the first quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ AFC Wild Card game, there was a collective gasp from Chiefs fans everywhere as he buried his helmet onto the field in obvious pain.
Charles was seen on the sideline going through concussion protocol before being led off the field into the locker room. Rookie Knile Davis has entered the game in place of Charles, and will be Kansas City’s starting running back for the time being.
KC is at an obvious disadvantage with Charles out, but exactly how much will this impact the game? The short answer is a lot. Charles accounts for over a third of the Chiefs’ total offense, and is the catalyst in keeping Kansas City’s run and short pass game in tact. Without the threat of Charles in the backfield, Alex Smith‘s field becomes even more limited, and more reliance will need to be placed in the hands of Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster.
Davis is a serviceable replacement, but is still a rookie running back with a bit of an issue in holding on to the football. Davis is a candidate to break out for a big play, but also one to give up a game-changing fumble.
Smith and the passing attack must step up in Charles’ absence if Kansas City wants to stay in the game. If Andrew Luck‘s first drive against the Kansas City defense was an indicator of things to come, the Chiefs will certainly need to score more if they expect to advance.
Kyle Pappas covers the Kansas City Chiefs and NFL for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @KylePap.