Here are five things to watch should the Chiefs wish to enter the bye week with a perfect 3-0 record.
1) Red Zone Efficiency
We looked at the Chiefs Red Zone struggles on Friday afternoon in Removing the Ugly. While the Chiefs are one of only several teams with a perfect Red Zone scoring efficiently, just 25% of those scores have been touchdowns. Eventually, the lack of TDs in Red Zone opportunities will catch up with the team.
Todd Haley said earlier this week that he simply wants more Red Zone visits. Charlie Weis indicated that he wanted to successfully run the football when inside the 20. However they do it, the Chiefs will need to take advantage of their scoring opportunities against the 49ers.
2) Matching Up with Vernon
The tight end position was an area that the 2009 Chiefs struggled to defend. Thus far in 2010, tight ends have been a significant source of offensive output against the Chiefs with 11 catches for 166 yards and a TD. Kansas City’s young secondary has already been tested by one of the game’s best tight ends (Antonio Gates); they’ll see another one this afternoon.
3) No TDs After Sudden Change
The Chiefs have been superb in the aftermath of turnovers, outscoring their opponents 17-0 in points off gives in 2010. Eventually, an opponent is going to score, but that doesn’t mean they have to count by seven.
4) Run So Far Away…
Kansas City owns the NFL’s fifth-best rushing attack with an average of 137.5 yards per game. The Chiefs style of play favors a ground game that can grind out the clock and pair with a salty defense. The identity of this offense has been all about the run thus far; that’s going to need to continue until the Chiefs passing game is able to take off.
5) Return Scores + Turnovers
Todd Haley rattled off a statistic a few weeks ago, noting that teams which register return scores and turnover victories in the same game, win over 90% of the time. So far, the Chiefs have built a 2-0 record behind TDs from the defense and special teams, all while not losing the turnover battle.
If the Chiefs can get a return score today, plus finish positive or even in the turnover department, chances are that Kansas City will be 3-0 heading into the bye week.