The Jets host the hapless Chiefs this Sunday in the Meadowlands. Gang Green will look to recover from a devastating loss in Oakland last Sunday and build a little bit of momentum heading into a showdown with Buffalo next week. The Chiefs should give the Jets just what they need as an old friend returns to the New Jersey Meadowlands.
With the Jets in need of a win, Herman Edwards makes his second trip to the Meadowlands after he threw a temper tantrum over his contract status and bolted for Kansas City following the debacle known as the 2005 season. The Eric Mangini Era has mixed reviews after two and a half seasons, but Jets fans at least can take solace in the fact the head coach who spurned them is in one of the league's most hopeless situations. These teams met in an unwatchable Week 17 game a year ago. This year's battle should be unwatchable only for fans in the heartland.
The Chiefs could not be much worse. They rank in the bottom half of the league in every major offensive statistic. Their 12.5 points per game rates them as worst in the NFL. Their top two quarterbacks, Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard, are on injured reserve. That leaves Tyler Thigpen as the starter. He has completed 42% of his passes and sports a quarterback rating of 44.3 and a 1-2 touchdown to interception ratio. If the Chiefs resemble the 2005 Jets, Thigpen is their Brooks Bollinger.
Star running back Larry Johnson will sit the contest out with legal issues. Second year man Kolby Smith and rookie Jamaal Charles will see an increased workload as a result. Smith has done little to inspire confidence in the NFL, but Charles has looked good in limited action, sporting a 4.8 average per rush.
Dwayne Bowe is a dangerous target anchoring the Kansas City receiving corps. He has 34 catches for 410 yards, no small feat considering how little help he has in terms of his quarterback play and his supporting cast. Tony Gonzalez was not dealt at the deadline and remains a threat. The rest of the Chiefs receivers have less than a third receptions combined than Bowe. Devard Darling and Jeff Webb are not compliments in any sense of the word.
The Chiefs are just abysmal defensively. Trading away a young elite pass rusher this offseason, Jarred Allen, has not paid dividends. Kansas City has only 3 sacks in 2008. This team is the worst in the league against the run. Opponents average 207 yards per game and 5.6 yards per rush. Kansas City only allows 195 yards through the air per game, but that is because teams run the ball so well against them that there is no need to put the ball up. The Chiefs have faced 221 rushing attempts against only 153 passing attempts. Linebacker Derrick Johnson has been about the only bright spot on their defense. He leads the club with 34 tackles and 2 of the 3 sacks.
Dustin Colquitt averages 47.9 yards per punt, which is a good thing since his offense requires him to do a lot of work. Former Redskin Nick Novak handles the place kicking and has only missed a pair of field goals this season.
Key Matchup: Jets vs. Complacency
The Jets cannot look ahead to a big game against Buffalo next week. The temptation will be there, however, since they have a home game against a team so inept that makes the matchup two Sundays ago against Cincinnati look scary by comparison.
Keys to Victory:
1. Double Bowe: Darrelle Revis should have Bowe all day with safety help over the top. No other receiver on the roster can consistently win one on one matchups, and it is not clear the Chiefs would have a quarterback to exploit them even if they did.
2. Be Conservative: The defense should not take too many chances. The base set should be used almost exclusively. There is no need to take a chance which could result in a breakdown and a big play. There is also no need to put anything of substance on tape for the Bills to see.
3. Use Chatman: This game offers the Jets a chance to experiment. Thomas Jones is coming off a pair of big games, but this is a chance to see what Jesse Chatman can bring to the mix out of the backfield.
4. Yank the Starters: If this game gets out of hand, which it should, Eric Mangini should give his starters a little extra rest and eliminate the chance for injury with a huge contest coming up.
5. Spy on Thigpen: Thigpen cannot throw effectively, but he is pretty athletic as his 9 rushes for 61 yards indicate. The Jets should have Eric Barton spy on him to eliminate his ability to make something out of a broken play.
Best Case Scenario:
The Jets dominate an inept opponent, taking out their frustration over the Oakland debacle. Kellen Clemens and the rest of the scrubs see extensive playing time in the second half.
Worst Case Scenario:
The Jets play a sloppy game, full of turnovers and mixed tackles and struggle to a 10 point triumph.
What Will Happen:
It will probably be close to the best case scenario. The Chiefs do not do anything particularly well. Winless teams show hunger this time of year and become dangerous, but Kansas City already got its win. Gang Green should have success doing whatever it wants on old Herm.