Oh, hai New Yorkers.
I'm NigerianNightmare from Arrowhead Pride, SB Nation's resident Kansas City Chiefs blog. I like to come around to every opposing teams blog the week before a game just to chat it up with you folks, learn what I should know and what matchups to watch. It may be a little early and you guys may not necessarily want to hear from me right now, but I like to get into it a little earlier than some.
Times have looked better in New York. A sloppy but close opening day was followed by consecutive blowouts by Denver and Carolina. In all those games, turnovers were a massive problem as the Giants couldn't seem to hold on to the ball or get into the rhythm that Eli is so known for. Lack of running game and an inconsistent defense seemed to hurt, as well. In what seemed to be their worst loss yet, Eli was sacked 6 times in the first half and the offense sputtered in an eventual 38-0 loss. All these things together lead to a bit of an ugly 0-3.
The Chiefs are 3-0, which feels really good considering the season we had in 2012. We haven't turned the ball over anywhere on the entire team once this season. Meanwhile, our defense and special teams have forced 7 turnovers in 3 games, two of those interceptions being returned for touchdowns. The Chiefs have also produced a league leading 15 sacks, led by league leader Justin Houston (7.5 sacks), opposite edge rusher Tamba Hali (only one sack, but countless pressures and hits this season), perhaps the best interior pass rusher this season so far in Dontari Poe (3.5 sacks, numerous pressures), as well as a great blitzer in Derrick Johnson and a guy who had a really good game rushing the passer last week in Tyson Jackson.
Up until last week the Chiefs had the best rushing defense in the league, and even despite the huge totals rushing, still controlled the LOS for the majority of the game.
Corner Sean Smith has been simply outstanding, and Brandon Flowers recovered from a rough week against Dez Bryant to more or less shut down the NFL's leading receiver despite playing on injured legs. Kendrick Lewis is suspect by by all accounts Eric Berry has been outstanding.
Things are looking up in KC. The defense is looking just swell, and the offense has been good enough to close out games and win. The word is inconsistent with them. Not enough running, tons of short passes, inconsistent OL and injuries at the receiver spots but as I said, no turnovers. Also, while Jamaal's rushing numbers haven't been insane he has had over 100 total yards and a touchdown in every game thus far, and the OL has taken it upon themselves to dominate the opposition when we line up to run towards the end of the game.
But despite our successes and New York's struggles, there is an aura of concern and panic in KC. We've seen this before. The Giants aren't a team lacking talent, and we've been torched by wounded boars before. It's only a matter of time before Eli gets tired of the malarkey and goes off on some poor defense, and many of us are worried that the defense he decides to torch will be ours. Couple that with your historically vaunted pass rush against our questionable ability to not take sacks and protect the passer and you may very well swallow us up in KC.
I think most of us are cautiously optimistic, this game should be in our favor but never back Eli Manning up into a corner. He just might lash out. Doubting him has consistently ended up in the destruction of dreams for years on end.
Things to watch for in KC...
Nose tackle Dontari Poe. Dangerous physical presence who, chances are, will make himself known. I struggle to find an interior guy having a better season so far. He's torn through double teams for TFL's, taken advantage of single blocks almost 100% of the time with a hurry, hit or sack and right when you think you have him under control, he's batting down a pass. We don't typically like to brag too much (I'm just drunk on kool-aid), but anyone on AP will tell you containing Poe is the key to beating this defense. And that has yet to happen.
#1 overall pick Eric Fisher. One spot where you probably have a clear advantage. He's raw as hell, leverage has been a major issue and the speed of the game has gotten to him. But get him in a groove run blocking and he will make himself known. He's the defintion of a warrior. He gets beaten, a lot even, but every time he comes back with a vengeance. We have to establish the run game early for JPP to not destroy him in pass pro.
Jamaal Charles. Looks a bit different than Jamaal of old. He's not juking and jiving as much as he normally does, now its all about power. The noticeably bigger (looks about 215) Jamaal has been hammering defenders all year. Whether he's trucking Morris Claiborne (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLk08GRTAx4), taking the starch out of blitzing defenders (http://www.juanelway.com/jamaal-charles-can-block-too-gif/) or just generally trucking fools he's made it an emphasis for himself this year to be the one to deliver blows.
Nicks/Cruz vs. Smith/Flowers. This will be a really fun battle between incredibly talented players.
Some questions for you guys...
Is the O-line as bad as they've looked at times? I watched a few times over the past couple weeks and they looked decent to me.
Are the Giants problems fixable?
CAN the Giants run the ball if they really need to?
How has the pass rush been this season?
Is Eli due for a breakout game?