The Kansas City Chiefs are fresh off their first win of the season with their 22-17 victory over the winless Minnesota Vikings last Sunday in Kansas City. The Chiefs now take on another winless team that has seemed to lose its' way so far this season in the Indianapolis Colts. It's been well documented how much the Colts relied on Peyton Manning to make their team relevant in the NFL landscape. But Manning is still sidelined by a neck injury and right now they are still deciding between Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter as to who will be the starter Sunday against the Chiefs.
But just because their hall of fame signal caller is out for the forseeable future, that doesn't mean that the Colts are lacking talent with the other 52 players that make up the roster. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis make one of the best, if not the best, pass rushing defensive end tandems in the entire NFL.
They both have three sacks so far on the season. The Colts team had seemed to be built around Manning giving the team a lead and Mathis and Freeney making sure the opposing teams' quarterback doesn't take that lead back. Mathis and Freeney have combined for just 12 tackles on the year, but six of those have been sacks. In comparison, Tamba Hali has four sacks on the season with 17 tackles. Mathis and Freeney seem to have one job, and they're pretty good at it, getting after the quarterback.
If offensive tackles Branden Albert and Barry Richardson can continue to play well like they have so far this season, the Chiefs should have enough balance on offense to move the ball against the Colts defense. The Colts are ranked 28th in the NFL in rush defense and the Chiefs are currently 14th in the league in rushing. If the Chiefs get one dimensional on offense then they are going to be in a world of trouble.
This is where play-calling becomes so important in that you can't become too predictable on each and every play. The second half against the Vikings something seemed to have changed and Cassel seemed to be looking farther downfield to make a play than he had all season. This will give the running backs more room to cut and make plays if the defensive backs respect Cassel's willingness and ability to throw the ball downfield.
It's important that the Chiefs come out strong and take an early lead in this game. If they choose to go the conservative route and fall behind early, it could mean bad things if we were to allow a situation that would give Mathis and Freeney the ability to get after the quarterback on every play.
Therefore, Dexter McCluster becomes even more valuable for the Chiefs this week. If Freeney and Mathis are coming off the edges on most plays looking for the sack, then they must be leaving draws and screens open to the offense. It just so happens that the Chiefs run mostly draws and screens. There are going to be some big plays in this game. It's just a matter of whether or not it's going to be Mathis and Freeney causing havoc, or Dexter McCluster breaking a long play on either a draw or screen.