The Kansas City Chiefs are 6-2 heading in to week nine of the NFL season. The Chiefs are in very good shape in the AFC West, holding a three game lead over every other team thanks in part to a 29-19 victory over the Denver Broncos in week eight. This week, Andy Reid and the Chiefs head to Texas to take on the Dallas Cowboys in what many are calling the game of the week. Here are the week nine Kansas City Chiefs keys to victory.
Week Nine Kansas City Chiefs Keys to Victory
Stop the Run
Sounds so easy right? We say it almost every single week – the Chiefs have to stop the run better or there may be trouble on the horizon come playoff time. In week eight, the Broncos racked up 177 yards on the ground, averaging 5.7 yards a carry – and that was against the 10th ranked rushing offense in the league. This weekend, the Chiefs face the second best rushing attack in the NFL.
The Chiefs are likely catching a break as it looks like Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension will finally keep him off of the field for their week nine matchup. There is always a chance that a court ruling could allow the Pro Bowl running back to play, but as of this write up, Alfred Morris will be starting for the Cowboys. While this will help the Chiefs, don’t think that the Cowboys will just give up on running the ball. Their offense is predicated on a ground and play action offense and they will still attempt to grind it out with Morris and a stable of backup running backs. The Cowboys offensive line is good enough to open up holes on any defense in the league. Expect a heavy dose of the ground game aimed at Kansas City’s sub-packages.
Do Not Settle for Field Goals
Rookie kicker Harrison Butker set an NFL record by kicking 18 field goals as a rookie in a single calendar month. While this is a great personal achievement for Butker, this stat is an indictment on the offense.
Far too often, the Chiefs sputter in the red zone. Against the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs did not score a single touchdown in the red zone despite making three trips inside Denver’s 20 yard line. Over the past three weeks, the Chiefs are only scoring touchdowns on 14% of their red zone drives, by far the worst in the league.
Fortunately against the Broncos, a strong defensive – or poor Broncos offensive – performance helped clinch a Kansas City victory. The Chiefs will be facing a much more dynamic and explosive offense this week and cannot settle for field goals every time they touch the ball.
Play Up Tempo Offense
While the Chiefs offense does have its issues in the red zone, there is no denying that this is still an big play offense. It looks as if the Chiefs will be getting Laurent Duvernay-Tardif back this week, so the offensive line should be at full strength for the first time since week two. That is a good sign as the Chiefs prepare to play a strong and fast defensive line.
The weakness of this Cowboy’s defense is definitely its secondary. The Cowboys have a hard time passing off crossing routes and covering tight ends – something the Chiefs are very good at doing when they possess the ball. Expect a heavy dose of tight end Travis Kelce on Sunday with a lot of short to intermediate routes to the Chiefs speedy receivers. There will be opportunities for Alex Smith to throw it deep on this defense, especially when the Cowboys line up a linebacker across from Kelce – which will happen.
The Chiefs need to start the offense up with a high tempo and maintain the tempo throughout the game. Keep the Cowboys defense on its heels and score touchdowns when you have the chance. If the Chiefs offense can move the ball, they should position themselves well for a 7-2 record as they head in to their bye week next weekend before hitting the home stretch and fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs.