1. WR Dwayne Bowe - Thus far in 2013, the Chiefs only Pro Bowl wide receiver hasn’t had one of his customary triple digit receiving days. Against the Oakland Raiders press cover happy cornerbacks; he might just have that opportunity on Sunday.
Granted the Chiefs offensive focus has been to spread the ball to a variety of receivers, backs and tight ends, Bowe needs to have one of those ‘Show’ games that puts fear into KC’s upcoming opponents.
Bowe is as gifted as they came when he brings his ‘A’ game to the field. And before you go there, I’m not saying he doesn’t do it all the time. But in big games, he generally has a streak or two in him to rip off some pretty big plays. There is none bigger this week for Bowe than facing the Raiders solid secondary.
With safety, Charles Woodson, leading the unit he knows all too well what the Chiefs are going to bring his direction. The ageless wonder has tormented Kansas City in the past so Bowe and company must make sure that the twilight of his career ends with a whimper and not a bang.
2. RB Jamaal Charles - The man who leads the NFL in touches has always played well against division opponents. The Chiefs running back, even though he gets his hands on the ball the majority of the time in KC’s offense, has yet to have his ‘take it to the house’ moment.
If the Chiefs are going to avoid more scoring draughts until the fourth quarter, they have to do a much better job running the ball in the first half. Granted the offensive line is being trained to be stronger in the passing game, the run game can’t take a backseat when the Chiefs play more physical defenses like the ones they’ll face against the Raiders Sunday and the Cleveland Browns in two weeks.
I know Charles is dealing with pesky blisters on his toes and I don’t even want to know what he’s doing to soften them before each game, but he’s the Chiefs offensive catalyst.
Let’s hope he puts his best feet forward from the start on Sunday.
3. RT Eric Fisher - Let’s hope the week off had a settling affect on the NFL’s top pick. To date, Fisher has explored every aspect of a typical rookie. He’s played great and played poorly. He’s worked through some injuries while others have put him on the shelf.
Welcome to the NFL Mr. Fisher.
Still if the Chiefs are going to become more consistently on offense he has to regain the mauler status that made him the top pick. At Central Michigan, that was his bread and butter. Yes he played against weaker talent than he’s facing on the NFL stage but attitude can overcome almost anything.
The primary reason the Chiefs chose Fisher over Luke Joekel, boiled down to his fiery and competitive nature. So far in Kansas City, we’ve really yet to see that. Don’t get me wrong he’s talented and will remain a fixture at right tackle for the next five years.
But he does have a trunk full of riches, so his motivation has to be to work harder than anyone else on that line.
So if my analysis is correct, he needs to make his first AFC West match up one to remember for his teammates.
4. TE Sean McGrath - This might his biggest challenge to date. After weeks, he’s no longer a mystery. He’s one of the NFL’s best come out of nowhere stories. The bearded wonder has been nothing short of brilliant filling in for starter, Anthony Fasano.
McGrath has been a stable on the field and in third down situations has been a favorite target of Chiefs quarterback, Alex Smith.
That combination opens up the possibility for more balance within the Chiefs offense. But in crunch time, Smith feels comfortable getting him the ball regardless of down and distance.
This week he faces the aforementioned Woodson so he’s going to have play his most physical game of the year. Woodson is a master at closing over the middle. McGrath has to make sure if he does, he gets to the Smith pass before his Raider counterpart.
5. DE Allen Bailey - We’ve not heard his name called too often this season but that doesn’t mean it can’t in games moving forward. The third down specialist has always had talent to sack the quarterback. And though, Tyson Jackson, has resurrected his career in 2013, Bailey has bring down the quarterback talents.
It’s too bad he’s not an everyday player because if he were, no question the Chiefs defensive line would be even better than it is right now. Bailey like Jackson hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status.
But entering his third year in Kansas City, he has a chance to change all that. Should he be able to join the sack parade the Chiefs will have four defenders (he, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe) that can deliver the quarterback knock out blow.
This game could be even more significant for Bailey if Houston can’t play after suffering a concussion last weekend at Nashville.
6. HC Andy Reid - This is his first taste of the AFC West hit parade that he’ll face this season. It’s critical that he adapt to the same philosophies as one of his predecessors, Marty Schottenheimer.
The former Chiefs coach owed the AFC West for much of his ten-year service in Kansas City. Reid, who inked a five-year deal last January, knows the best chance he has to win the AFC West crown now and in the future, is to beat the teams within his division.
This is one of six such games remaining on the schedule and Reid has to come out of this game with a red blaze of glory at its conclusion. He can’t suffer a letdown in this game by playing it conservative.
As I stated earlier, this has to be the turn around game for his offense. He may still have things to explore within the men he has chosen to run the system he’s mostly installed.
But now it’s time to take the rest of the training wheels off and let the kids on his offense show the head coach what they can really do.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Can the Chiefs end teh Raiders streak and keep theirs in tact Sunday?
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