Both the Chiefs and Seahawks lead their respective divisions by only one game, making this Sunday’s matchup an important contest for each franchise. Let’s take a look at five things to watch when the Chiefs at Seahawks kick off on Sunday.
1) Turnover Battle
Winning the turnover battle is critical to achieving victory across the league, but it’s even more important when playing against the 2010 Seahawks. Seattle has lived and died by the turnover throughout 2010. Thus far, they’ve put together a perfect split after playing 10 games. The Seahawks are an undefeated 5-0 when finishing with a positive or even turnover ratio, but are a winless 0-5 when finishing in the negative.
Kansas City has finished with a negative turnover ratio on the road just once this season (at Denver), yet has managed to post only a 1-4 road record. The Chiefs road win percentage is a statistical outlier considering that NFL teams have combined to go 57-30 (.655) this season when finishing with an even or positive turnover ratio. Winning the turnover battle in Seattle should shift the odds of winning into Kansas City's favor.
2) Seahawks’ Struggling Run D
The Chiefs were unable to exploit Denver’s 31st ranked rushing defense when the team traveled to INVESCO Field two Sundays ago. This week, the Chiefs face the league’s 13th ranked rushing defense, but it’s a group who’s really struggled against the run over the past five weeks.
Seattle’s rushing defense was its defensive rock for its first five games on 2010, but injuries to DT Red Bryant and DE Brandon Mebane have helped send the Seahawks into a defensive tailspin. Last weekend, Seattle’s poor display of tackling was a major issue in a 34-19 loss to New Orleans. Owning the league’s top-ranked rushing attack, the Chiefs must take advantage of the Seahawks recent vulnerability against the run and dictate the game’s tempo.
The health of two playmakers is in question for Sunday. Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers is doubtful with a hamstring injury and Seahawks WR Mike Williams is questionable with a foot ailment. Neither player practiced this week.
Where does either team find additional help? Does one of the key players end up playing this weekend to create an advantage over the opponent? This injury situation is one to watch.
In the case of the Chiefs, the team can’t afford a repeat performance from an unknown player, such as rookie WR Jacoby Ford’s breakout day in Oakland. On that afternoon, Oakland’s top two receiving targets were inactive and Ford became an NFL Player of the Week.
4) 251 Transactions
Seattle is currently undergoing a franchise re-vamping similar to what the Chiefs experienced in Kansas City last season. As of the beginning of the week, the Seahawks had totaled 251 player transactions since the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era began in January. That’s an incredible number.
These transactions aren’t just practice squad changes and end of the roster players rotating to and from the roster. Many of these transactions represent players whom the Seahawks will be counting on come Sunday. WRs Mike Williams, Brandon Stokley and Golden Tate…RBs Marshawn Lynch and Leon Washington…OL Stacy Andrews and Russell Okung. The list goes on and on, and those names just cover three position groups. Many of these players didn’t even join the Seahawks program until September.
While the Seahawks look to have established a solid base for their re-building process, the Chiefs are further along in theirs. What advantage, if any, does a full off-season/season/month have for a team on a Sunday? Maybe we’ll find out.
5) On The Road…
Road trips haven’t been a pleasant experience for the Chiefs in 2010. Despite a number of winnable road games, Kansas City has come up victorious just one time. Even on that occasion, it took a fourth-and-one conversion inside of the two-minute mark to secure victory. Traveling some 1,800 miles northwest and playing in front of a rowdy home crowd won’t make things any easier for the Chiefs this weekend.
A quick start, fewer flags, limiting big plays and protecting the quarterback will all prove vital in shaking off the road monkey this weekend. Division champions win their home games and are able to steal a few on the road as well. Something has to give on Sunday.