After spending the bye week recovering from injuries and (possibly) figuring out what’s plaguing the defense, the Chiefs travel to the Meadowlands today to face the New York Giants, who at 1-8, are right in the thick of it with the Browns and 49ers for the top pick in the NFL Draft next spring.
Despite the immense amount of blue chip players (never mind monetary allocation), the Giants defense has been one of the league’s most underwhelming units. After surrendering over 400 and 31 points to one of the worst offenses in football, they must now find a way to slow the triumvirate that is Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. The Chiefs fantastic trio was slowed by Dallas two weeks ago, but I expect them to light up the scoreboard today.
Despite their talent, the Giants defenders have not found a way to tap into it. They’ve allowed a tight end to score on them every week this season, and have allowed 82 points the last two weeks alone. Against an MVP candidate like Alex Smith (2,444 yards, 16 TD, 1 INT), it won’t be a matter of if the Chiefs will make big plays, but when. Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins each scored on long touchdowns against this secondary, and 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin scored on an 83 yard bomb. The Chiefs will be missing WR Albert Wilson again, but it shouldn’t matter. Janoris Jenkins, much like Marcus Peters, is eager to jump routes. If Andy Reid feels comfortable with protection, he shouldn’t be afraid to call a few double-moves with either Hill or Demarcus Robinson.
If the deep ball isn’t there, the Chiefs offense should be fine, still. A few Giants linebackers are injured, and the ones that aren’t are very bad at the game of football. Kelce has scored in consecutive weeks, and it shouldn’t be hard for him to extend that streak today. While he could see additional help from last year’s All-Pro Landon Collins, Kelce has made some of the league’s best safeties look foolish at times. Considering how poorly they’ve defended tight ends, Demetrius Harris might even catch a touchdown (or two).
Where the Chiefs offense has struggled the most recently, and it’s not coincidentally coincided with losing, has been run blocking. Hunt has cooled down from his torrid start, and though much of that can be attributed to the rookie wall, the offensive line just hasn’t been as effective in making lanes for him to run. Giants nose tackle Damon Harrison is questionable coming into today, and even if he does play he won’t be at full health. If the Chiefs can’t run today, they might not be able to all season.
If there was any concern I had regarding the Chiefs chances of victory today, it would result from the defense. With starters Allen Bailey and Dee Ford, along with Tamba Hali – after playing just game after his activation off the PUP list, out today, it could spell disaster for an equally depressing defense. The Giants offensive line is nothing short of terrible, but the Chiefs pass rush has failed to take advantage of schematic advantages all season. Giants WR Sterling Shepard is unlikely to play today (migraines), but they still boast an excellent rookie tight end in Evan Engram, who has scored in four straight games. Since they lost Eric Berry, the Chiefs have been uncharacteristically bad at covering opposing tight ends. The run defense is also a problem, and Orleans Darkwa has proven efficient with minimal carries. After being dismantled in Dallas, the Chiefs defense needs to prove that they can return to previous levels of dominance. The Chiefs franchise needs them to, or they will struggle in finishing this season strong.
Entering the bye with three losses in their last four games after a 5-0 start, the Chiefs, who had played the second-toughest schedule in football through the first nine weeks, has the schedule flip on them now, as they sport the easiest schedule the rest of the way. While there will likely be a loss somewhere the rest of the way, they’ll be favorites – a TD or more – in most cases. The Giants have everything going for them to make this interesting, but with a 16-2 record coming off a bye, along with a loaded offense, I just can’t see Kansas City dropping to New York, never mind keeping it close.
Chiefs 41, Giants 17
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