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Chiefs vs. Jets: Five Things to Watch

Posted Dec 1, 2017

Here are a few storylines to keep in mind as the Chiefs travel to take on the Jets

The city might be so nice that they named it twice, but the Kansas City Chiefs are hoping their second trip to the Big Apple within two weeks brings a different result this time around.

The Chiefs travel to take on the New York Jets Sunday afternoon in the same stadium they faced the New York Giants two weeks ago, ultimately falling in that one, 12-9. It marks the third-straight game against a team from New York, with the Chiefs dropping last week’s contest to the Buffalo Bills, 16-10.

Overall, the Chiefs have dropped three in a row and five of their last six, while the Jets have also dropped five of their last six, including their last two.

And despite their recent struggles, the Chiefs still hold a one-game lead in the AFC West, currently holding off a surging Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) team and an Oakland Raiders (5-6) that has stayed in the mix.

Looking ahead to Sunday, it’s important to note that all five of the Jets losses over the last six games were within one possession, which sets the stage for a good one this weekend.

Here are five things to watch during Chiefs-Jets on Sunday:

1. The focus should be on the trenches, particularly on the offensive side

Over the past few weeks, Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid has had to answer dozens of questions relating to the team’s recent offensive performances, which haven’t brought the same results everyone saw earlier in the year from largely the same group of players.

“With the core group that I’ve got on the offensive side, I know they’ll look in the mirror first and demand more from each other,” Reid noted. “I’d say that all the way through with our locker room. We’ve got a good locker room. There’s an ebb and flow in the National Football League that takes place at times. Every year is different. You’re going to have some highs and lows. We’re obviously not playing as well as we’d like to play and the end results are showing that.

“Everybody has to feel that urgency to change it.”

And any time a particular side of the ball is struggling, the focus should always first go on the trenches, where plays are won or lost before the guys with the ball in their hands even have a chance to try and make a play.

On Sunday, the Chiefs face a Jets’ defense that’s allowed at least 140 yards rushing six different times this season, which is tied for the most in the league.

As we’ve seen recently, the past performances of opposing teams don’t mean anything for an upcoming matchup, but there’s an opportunity for the Chiefs to get back on track, particularly with running back Kareem Hunt and the guys up front.

“When things go bad, none of it’s from lack of effort,” Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said earlier this week. “As long as you have effort this thing will turn around. We understand that. We’ve been saying that it’s been one little thing here or there throughout, and the want is there to get better and improve. The last few weeks it hasn’t been there, so as coach has been saying to us all week there’s a sense of urgency for us to understand that and accountability for everybody, players and coaches.

“Trust me, we all want to win. We all understand what’s going on and we’re going to do everything we can to fix it.”

2. Darrelle Revis set to make his Chiefs’ debut

One of the league’s most dominant defensive players over the last decade will take the field for the first time all season on Sunday.

Darrelle Revis—the four-time first-team All-Pro cornerback who signed with the team less than two weeks ago—will make his season debut for the Chiefs against a familiar team. Revis has spent eight of his 10 years in the league with the Jets, including last season.

In his prime, Revis was arguably the best cornerback in the league and looks to be a future Hall of Famer. He has 137 passes defensed and 29 interceptions in his 10 years in the league, allowing a quarterback rating against him of less than 70.

Despite an impressive resume, Sutton, who was the Jets’ defensive coordinator when Revis was taken with the No. 14 overall pick back in 2007 out of the University of Pittsburgh, doesn’t want to put too much pressure on his former playmaker.

“He’s going to be well prepared. He’s played a lot of football in his career and played at a pretty high level. I think he’ll be fine,” Sutton said. “We talked about this a hundred times about people that just are coming back, there’s that reaction time that you can’t duplicate till you’re out there. You can train, you can work out, you can do that, but you’ve got to be able to see things at those instances like that and I think the more he plays and the more he practices, the better all that’s going to become.

“I think he’ll be able to operate pretty good.”

After just a couple of weeks with the team, Revis said he's fit in pretty well.

"It's a fun group," Revis explained. "Every position group has their own personality, but then you also can see how it all comes together on Sundays. I’m happy to be a part of it."

3. The Jets have a big-play receiver, who has been on fire recently

The Jets may rank 20th in the league by averaging just 20.7 points per game, but it’s not from a lack of big-play ability. They actually lead the league with 121 points scored from outside of the red zone.

Much of that success has to do with speedy second-year receiver Robby Anderson, who leads the team with 714 yards receiving and seven touchdowns on 74 targets with 41 receptions. He’s tied for third in the league with 16 receptions of at least 20 yards this season.

“He’s one of the number one deep threats in the league this year,” Revis, who spent last year as Anderson’s teammate with the Jets, said. “He’s playing well.”

Whether it’s Revis or someone else on the outside lining up on Anderson, or perhaps getting some safety help over the top because of his impressive downfield speed, the help can also come in the form of the Chiefs’ pass rush, which could force the ball out of quarterback Josh McCown’s hands quicker.

Linebacker Justin Houston picked up his team-leading 8.5th sack last week against the Bills, and with Dee Ford missing practice again this week as he continues to deal with a back injury, the opportunity may be there for rookie second-round pick Tanoh Kpassagnon to grab some more snaps against the Jets. He played a career-high 14 snaps last week against the Bills.

“I think he did a good job and same as we’ve talked about him before,” Sutton explained. “He’s done a really good job. He’s gone through a couple because of need move in a different couple positions and that’s tough, but he’s settling in, he’s doing a good job, he’s learning the ins and outs of the outside linebacker position, he’s an aggressive guy, obviously has great range. Our hope is just as this thing keeps going he’s going to get a little better and better. We certainly need him to step up there.”

4. Can the Chiefs’ run defense continue where they left off?

Over the past three weeks, the Chiefs have allowed an average of just 3.13 yards per carry to opposing teams’ featured running backs.

And over that time, the Chiefs haven’t faced any slouches either—going up against the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott, the Giants’ Orleans Darkwa, and the Bills’ LeSean McCoy.

Both Elliott and McCoy could be considered two of the best backs in the league, and they couldn’t manage to get anything going against the Chiefs’ front seven.

“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid explained of the defense’s recent success against the run. “I’d tell you, the defensive front, those linebackers and d-line collectively, are doing a nice job and we’re getting support off of our safeties and tackling well. They’ve done a nice job of that.”

One of the reasons for that success has been the development and recent play of Reggie Ragland, who is coming into his own after coming over in a trade with the Buffalo Bills before the final preseason game of the year. Ragland missed all of his rookie season with the Bills last year because of a knee injury suffered in the preseason, which makes this basically his rookie season.

And the light seems to be coming on for the former SEC Defensive Player of the Year for Alabama in 2015. Ragland leads the Chiefs with 18 tackles over the last two weeks, which included a three tackles-for-loss performance against his former team last Sunday.

“My thing is I just have to go out there and produce and make sure those guys trust me enough to be there on that field,” Ragland noted. “And right now, they are demanding me to do more, especially Justin Houston, who is being very vocal, so I’ve got no choice but to get it done.”

5. Two key stats and a fast start

“We can all get better,” Reid said earlier this week. “If we all stick to that, we’re going to be OK. I don’t think you have to change 8,000 different things. We’ve got a good system and we’ve got a good locker room, and I think that’s important.”

One specific area the Chiefs have been really good this year offensively is on third-and-short, and with third-down conversion percentages being one of the core-four stats, along with turnover differential, penalty yards and red zone efficiency, it’s an area to watch on Sunday.

In regards to third downs, the Chiefs are actually converting third-and-short (less than four yards) situations better than anyone in the league right now at 76.7 percent. The Jets, however, are tied for 29th in the league in that area at 45.7 percent.

Finally, the other key stat.

Since the Week 6 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs are just 2 of 13 inside the red zone after beginning the season as one of the best in the league in that area.

The ability to score touchdowns when inside an opponent’s 20-yard line is obviously one of the keys stats of any game, and it’s an area to watch for the Chiefs on Sunday. The Jets are allowing touchdowns 57.1 percent of the time an opponent gets in the red zone, which ranks 24th in the league.

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