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Jets vs. Chiefs Game Preview

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Heading to Arrowhead

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

It's good to win again. The New York Jets won their first regular season game since December of last year, and it was a big one. Apart from breaking a nearly impressively distressing 5 game losing streak against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets avoided the dreaded 0-2 start that submarines seasons. An 0-2 conference and 0-1 divisional record wouldn't have helped matters either. Now the Jets go up against their 3rd consecutive conference opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Where We Are

The Jets needed a win and they got one. Once again, the Jets looked like the superior team through most of the game, yet it ended tensely due to horrendous secondary play and poor coaching. Todd Bowles' decision to kick an extra point while up by 12 late in the 4th quarter really upset me. It simply didn't make sense, and it nearly came back to bite the Jets when the Bills cut the lead to 6 with little time remaining. The gameplan was an improvement on the Cincinnati Bengals coverage fiasco, but these mistakes are unacceptable at any level. The Jets have the talent to surprise teams, but they need quality performances to beat more competitive teams. The Chiefs may not be the class of the AFC, but unlike the Bills, they are a playoff caliber team.

Where They Are

The Chiefs are coming off a loss on the road against a pretty solid team. Or at least I would call the Houston Texans a pretty solid team if they hadn't been exposed in a 27-0 shellacking against the New England Patriots Thursday night. The Chiefs also narrowly escaped an 0-2 start by making a huge comeback in week 1, largely helped by injuries and conservative playcalling squashing the San Diego Chargers' offense in the second half. The Chiefs have a lot of average to above average starters, but the team as a whole is pretty mediocre. They currently rank 15-17th in points, yards, passing yards, and rushing yards on offense. They rank 16th in yards and points allowed per game on defense as well. Expectations might have been too high after a successful 2015 season saw the Chiefs cruise through the second half of the season en route to 11 consecutive wins.

Injuries

Jets

Carpenter, James G Calf DNP DNP
Carter, Bruce LB Shoulder FP FP
Decker, Eric WR Shoulder DNP LP
Enunwa, Quincy WR Ribs FP FP
Forté, Matt RB Knee LP FP
Harris, David LB Shoulder LP LP
Henderson, Erin LB Foot DNP DNP
Jenkins, Jordan LB Calf FP FP
Marshall, Brandon WR Knee / Foot DNP DNP
Petty, Bryce QB Rt. Shoulder DNP DNP

Roberts, Darryl CB Foot FP FP
Wilkerson, Muhammad DE Ankle FP FP
Winters, Brian G Hand FP FP

Chiefs

Barrington, Sam LB Hamstring DNP
Berry, Eric DB Knee DNP
Charles, Jamaal RB Knee LP
Duvernay-Tardif, Laurent OL Ankle LP


Ehinger, Parker OL Concussion / Foot DNP
Hali, Tamba LB Knee DNP
Reid, Jah OL Knee / Ankle DNP

X-Factor

Jets

If the Jets want to win this week, they're going to need a better performance from the secondary this week. Darrelle Revis has been having trouble this season, but I think the decline is overblown. The bomb to A.J. Green was not his responsibility and most of Green's yardage was schemed on screens where the Jets were outcoached. Revis has always struggled against speedsters like Ted Ginn and Marquise Goodwin. Revis can likely handle Jeremy Maclin and Alex Smith, however. I'm more worried about the safeties and whether or not they can maintain their zones, prevent the deep ball, and cover rising star Travis Kelce. Marcus Gilchrist was largely responsible for Green's big play and it seems to me that he has been out of position on a lot of deep coverage plays, playing the run and the short pass too aggressively. The Jets need to stop allowing these big plays, and at the end of the day, that's the deep safety's responsibility. The Chiefs are terrible at passing deep with Alex Smith. Take advantage, Gilchrist.

Chiefs

The Chiefs have a handful of star players, but they're mostly dealing with injuries right now. Four of the Chiefs top players (Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali) all missed practice with injuries and Charles is unlikely to suit up. Houston isn't expected to play for another few weeks. This means that the healthy stars need to step up. With the issues the Jets have at RG, the Chiefs should expect a big game out of stud nose tackle Dontari Poe. Ryan Fitzpatrick has taken advantage of his pocket mobility by stepping up to avoid pressure, but if Poe can get penetration in the passing game, Fitz's greatest strength may be turned against him. Poe can also kill the Jets running game, which lacks elite speed or power at the running back position, by clogging up rushing lanes. Jets RBs show excellent patience and vision, but they are probably not going to manufacture many yards if they're not there. Look for Poe to be double teamed regularly throughout the game to prevent him from shining as Sunday's X-Factor.

Keys To Victory

Offense: Avoid turnovers. The Chiefs' defense is hurting due to injuries, so it should be easy enough to gain yards. Don't let Marcus Peters intercept you, Fitz. And let's stop fumbling the ball this week, eh?

Defense: Don't let Alex Smith use the "death by a thousand cuts" approach to control the clock and extend drives. You know the Chiefs gameplan is going to involve short passing and crosses. Defend that.

The Bottom Line

I think the Jets are lucky to play the Chiefs early in the season this year. They are a good team when healthy, but they're not healthy. Jamaal Charles is one of my favorite (and most productive) running backs of all time. He's not playing. Justin Houston is one of the NFL's premier sack leaders when healthy. He's not playing. Eric Berry is one of the best safeties (and stories) in football. He's injured. While the Jets have an injured Brandon Marshall, the team is mostly healthy and effective early in the season. I expect a close game, but with all the injuries that the Chiefs are dealing with and the one dimensional nature of the Chiefs offense, I'm optimistic for a Jets win despite playing in a hostile arena.