Week Five Opponent Preview: Kansas City Chiefs
CHIEFS HAVEN'T BEATEN RAVENS AT NOISY ARROWHEAD
By Joe Platania
What: Week Five
When: 1 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 7
Where: Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, Mo. (76,416)
Records: Ravens, 3-1; Chiefs, 1-3
TV: WJZ-TV, Channel 13 (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts)
Radio: WIYY-FM, 97.9 (Gerry Sandusky, Qadry Ismail, Stan White)
ABOUT THE CHIEFS
- The Chiefs began their existence as the Dallas Texans, a charter American Football League member, in 1960. They stayed in Dallas for three years, winning an AFL title in 1962 before owner Lamar Hunt moved them to Kansas City. The team won two more AFL championships (1966, 1969) as well as Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings.
- Since the merger officially went into effect, the Chiefs have had a spotty postseason history, winning five AFC West titles and making 11 playoff appearances with just one conference championship game appearance and no Super Bowl trips. Kansas City has had one playoff season during the past six years (2010) and just one home playoff game in seven, losing to the Ravens at Arrowhead, 30-7, during the wild-card round.
- Arrowhead Stadium, located across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium (home of baseball's Royals), opened in 1972 and is home to one of the NFL's loudest home crowds. Kansas City went 7-1 at home in 2010, but has lost seven of 10 since, including three straight. The Chiefs have been unbeaten there four times (1971, 1995, 1997, 2003). At one point, the Chiefs didn't lose a December game at home for 10 years before the Ravens took a 20-10 decision in 2006. The Chiefs switched Arrowhead from turf to grass in 1994.
- The Chiefs' Week One roster had an average age of 25.81 per player, making Kansas City the AFC's fourth-youngest team and the league's ninth youngest. After having a training-camp roster with no players older than 30, the Chiefs currently have six such players.
- The Chiefs won their first three meetings with the Ravens in 1999, 2003 and 2004 before Baltimore won the aforementioned 2006 contest and the 2010 wild-card game, both at Arrowhead. The Ravens broke open a tight game during their 2009 home opener to beat the Chiefs again, 38-24, during former head coach Todd Haley’s first game with Kansas City. But the Chiefs are one of seven AFC teams to have a lifetime regular-season edge against the Ravens (3-2).
- Kansas City has allowed 136 points during four games, the second most in the league (Tennessee, 151). The Chiefs have outscored their opponents during the fourth quarter, 39-16, but it doesn't mean that much considering the team's 41-6 first-quarter deficit and its 42-17 third-quarter disadvantage.
- During the year they faced the Ravens in the playoffs, the Chiefs were the league's fifth-best team with a plus-9 turnover ratio. They are the NFL's worst team now at minus-13; Dallas is second-worst at minus-7.
- The Chiefs had six giveaways -- including four during the first 16 plays -- during their home loss to San Diego last week. They have committed 15 turnovers during four games, most in the NFL, and have not recovered a fumble on defense, one of five teams with that dubious distinction.
- Red-zone play has been a big problem for Kansas City. On offense, the team is tied for 24th, scoring touchdowns at a 40 percent rate; defensively, it has allowed 13 touchdowns in 18 opponents' trips (72 percent), the AFC's worst rate and third-worst leaguewide (Atlanta, San Francisco). The Ravens are in the top 10 in both categories (second on offense, 10th on defense).
- The Chiefs' turnover problems mask the fact that their 46 percent third-down conversion rate is the league's third-best. Defensively, they have allowed conversions 38 percent of the time, 18th in the league.
- Kansas City has been remarkably disciplined as well, having committed only 21 accepted penalties during four games, tied for the league's third-fewest with Indianapolis and Jacksonville. Atlanta has 14 and, surprisingly, Oakland has just 19. The Ravens have 37, tied with Seattle and Washington for the league high.
- On offense, the Chiefs are ranked fourth overall (second rushing at 173.5 yards per game, 17th passing, 18th scoring), while the team is 13th in overall defense (20th vs. rush, 12th vs. pass, 31st scoring). The defense has allowed its opponents to score an opening-drive touchdown during three of four games thus far.
- The Chiefs have possessed the ball an average of 31 minutes, 41 seconds per game, with a run-pass ratio of minus-50 (124 rushes, 174 passes, including 13 sacks allowed). But their opponents have been more balanced, performing to a ratio of minus-5 (112 rushes, 117 passes, including eight sacks allowed).
- Head coach Romeo Crennel (3-4 overall), a part of the coaching staff that brought three Super Bowl titles to the New England Patriots, was hired after Todd Haley was let go after 13 games in 2011. Crennel is the 12th head coach in the team's history, having been promoted from the defensive coordinator's post he held for two seasons.
- Quarterback Matt Cassel is in his eighth year in the league, but his fourth in Kansas City. His 70.4 passer rating (86.3 on third-down plays) is the NFL's fourth-lowest among starters, and he is one of four quarterbacks in the league that has at least seven interceptions. Cassel, who had a Pro Bowl year in 2010 with 27 touchdown passes, has completed only 58 percent of his passes and is responsible for 10 total turnovers. If Cassel has another bad start Sunday, his coaches could remove him from the game in favor of ex-Cleveland Browns first-rounder Brady Quinn.
- Running back Jamaal Charles, who scored on a 41-yard run against the Ravens during the 2010 playoff game, was one of several key Chiefs that tore their ACL ligaments early last year (TE Tony Moeaki, S Eric Berry). But he is rejuvenated with an AFC-best 415 rushing yards and a 5.8-yards-per-carry average, including a 91-yard touchdown. Backups include ex-Browns starter Peyton Hillis, fighting an ankle problem, and first-year man Shaun Draughn.
- Two of the Chiefs' receivers did not practice so far this week, ex-first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin and Devon Wylie; both are dealing with hamstring problems. But Dwayne Bowe (25 catches, tied for eighth in NFL) is still around, as is Dexter McCluster (15), who is now exclusively a receiver. Charles has 12 catches and Baldwin and Draughn have 10 each. Bowe needs one touchdown to become the fifth Chief with 40 career scores.
- Moeaki has nine catches, but he is now at the top of the tight end depth chart with the move of ex-New York Giants starter Kevin Boss to season-ending injured reserve (concussion). Former Arizona wideout/return man Steve Breaston has but four catches so far this year.
- The Chiefs offensive line has paced a potent ground game, but has allowed Cassel to get sacked 13 times despite some fine veteran talent. Glen Burnie native Branden Albert is at left tackle, with rookie Jeff Allen the line's youngest member at left guard.
- Ex-Indianapolis guard Ryan Lilja is at center, but he is dealing with a back problem (ex-Raven Bryan Mattison is his backup). Jon Asamoah is a third-year right guard and ex-Houston right tackle Eric Winston is starting for the Chiefs. Albert, Asamoah, Winston and Cassel are the only four offensive players to have started all four games in their positions.
- The defensive front features fifth-year veteran Glenn Dorsey (calf injury) and two youngsters, fourth-season end Tyson Jackson (12 tackles, sixth on team) and second-year nose tackle Anthony Toribio, relatively light for the position at 315 pounds. First-round pick Dontari Poe backs up Toribio, and Jackson's reserve, Ropati Pitoitua, had two sacks against San Diego last week while incurring an elbow injury.
- Right inside linebacker Derrick Johnson leads the team with 32 tackles, along with a sack and three pressures, but a groin problem has slowed him. Right outside man Tamba Hali has three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery against the Ravens. On the left side, outside linebacker Justin Houston has 14 tackles, five tackles for losses and four of the team's eight sacks, and inside man Jovan Belcher has racked up 17 stops.
- Free safety Kendrick Lewis is working through a shoulder problem, but strong safety Eric Berry is second on the team with 20 tackles and three tackles for losses. Cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt have the team's only interceptions, but Flowers (14 career interceptions) hasn't practiced with a heel problem and reserve Jalil Brown (hamstring) is also limited. Routt and Flowers combined to allow 17 touchdowns in 2011.
- Former Dallas, Cleveland and New York Jets safety Abram Elam has played in Lewis' place and has 18 tackles. He is one of eight Chiefs defensive players to have started all eight games so far.
- Placekicker Ryan Succop, a former "Mr. Irrelevant," is 8-for-9 on field goals -- missing a 40-yarder -- with a seven-kick streak currently alive. Last year, he booted 22 consecutive field goals. Succop has but nine kickoff touchbacks, and the kick-coverage team has allowed an opponents' average drive start of the 24-yard line, the league's sixth-worst figure.
- In fact, both Kansas City coverage teams are among the league's least efficient. The kick-coverage team is allowing 25 yards per runback, including a 77-yarder, and the punt-coverage unit is yielding an unheard-of average of 20 yards per return, including an 88-yard touchdown to Buffalo's Leodis McKelvin.
- Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt, son of ex-Pittsburgh punter Craig Colquitt, has put an AFC-high 10 punts inside the coffin corner out of 17 total kicks. Since 2006, Colquitt's 188 coffin-corner kicks are the most in the NFL. In second place in that department is the Ravens' Sam Koch (178).
- Javier Arenas, a 2010 second-round pick, is averaging 13.3 yards per punt return, fifth in the AFC and seventh leaguewide. During 10 returns, he has no fair catches, the only player in the league with double-digit returns and no fair catches. He averages 19 yards per kick return. First-year player Shaun Draughn has fewer returns, but a 22-yard average.
- The Chiefs' coaching staff includes former Ravens defensive lineman Anthony Pleasant (1996), who handles that unit for Kansas City. Ex-Ravens quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn is in his second year in that job for the Chiefs. The secondary coach is former Hall of Fame defensive back Emmitt Thomas, who played 13 seasons for Kansas City (1966-78).
- Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli was the Ravens' pro personnel director during their 1996 debut season, before moving on to New England and Kansas City.
PREDICTION: Like the Ravens, Kansas City has a top-five offense, one that is powered by its ground game. But the ground is also where the Chiefs have been putting the ball way too often. Their turnover problems could ruin a great matchup ... Ravens 26, Chiefs 16.
Posted Oct. 4, 2012