Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In a serious WR TD drought, the Chiefs can still bring grief

The Kansas City Chiefs are tough to figure, even for their own followers.

The 8-6 Chiefs still haven't thrown a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season. If they make it through the entire season, they will have matched an "accomplishment" set by only one other NFL team, your 1950 Pittsburgh Steelers, who played just 12 games (with a 6-6 record) and attempted only 255 passes.

During Sunday's 31-13 over the Oakland Raiders, quarterback Alex Smith threw two TD passes, one to tight end Travis Kelce, and the other to running back Knile Davis. He also completed a couple of deep passes (but not touchdowns) to his receivers, a 37-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe and a 48-yard pass to receiver Albert Wilson.

Against the Raiders, Smith completed 18 of 30 passes for 297 yards, the two TDs, and no interceptions.

Smith's history has shown that he can be the kind of cooly efficient, mobile-enough quarterback that typically gives the Steelers fits. But he's not gotten the ball deep to his wide receivers much this year, which head coach Andy Reid says doesn't concern him too much.

Still, the Chiefs are merely 2-3 over their last five games and just 3-4 on the road. While they've scored a middling 322 points (vs. the Steelers' 389), their defense has allowed just 254 points (vs. the Steelers' 339).

Three big things the Chiefs  have going for them:
  1. They have a serious running game with Jamaal Charles (14 TDs) and Knile Davis. The Chiefs rank seventh in the NFL in team rushing, with 127.3 yards per game.
  2. They can bring a heavy pass rush.
  3. And their kick returners can do some serious damage; Knile Davis on kickoffs and De'Anthony Thomas on punt returns. At 5'10" and 227 pounds, Davis is a hard knot of a blur who can be extremely tough to bring down when he gets up to speed, which is fast (4.37 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Combine); and Davis is a change-of-direction jukester who had an 81-yard punt return for a TD against the Raiders. The Steelers' coverage teams will need to be on their game.

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