Chiefs vs. Jets: Five Things to Watch

What to look for on Sunday

The Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) host the New York Jets (1-1) on Sunday afternoon with a 3:25 p.m. CT kickoff at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs are coming off a 19-12 road loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday, while the Jets beat the Buffalo Bills on the road last Thursday night, 37-31.

It's a matchup with some history going back more than five decades, to the days of the AFL when the Chiefs were the Dallas Texans and the Jets were the New York Titans.

For the Chiefs, it's hard to talk about the history between these teams and not mention the 1969 Divisional round matchup, which resulted in a 13-6 Chiefs win that eventually led them to their first, and currently only, Super Bowl title.

The overall regular-season series between the two franchises is tied 17-17-1, with the Chiefs winning the most recent meeting back in 2014 by a score of 24-10 at Arrowhead.

Heading into Sunday's game, both teams are battling injuries to some key players.

Here's a link to the most recent injury report.

With plenty on the line for both teams, here are five things to watch in the game on Sunday:

  1. What will we see from Chiefs QB Alex Smith and the passing game?

After not performing to the standards they've set for themselves this season in their loss last week to the Houston Texans, quarterback Alex Smith and the Chiefs passing offense will try and grasp the success they found in the second half of the Week 1 win over the San Diego Chargers.

In the final 26 minutes of that game, Smith completed 24 of 32 for 262 yards and two touchdowns.

Last week against the Texans, Smith finished 20 of 37 for just 186 yards.

"Every drive we had whether it be a penalty, a turnover, a sack, or a negative play, it stalled the drive and it's hard to overcome versus a talented defense," Smith explained of last week's game against the Texans.

The Chiefs finished with three turnovers and Smith was sacked four times in that game. Over the past two-plus years, the Chiefs are 11-3 when not committing a turnover, but just 9-9 when giving it away even just one time (or more).

Since Reid arrived three-plus years ago, the Chiefs are 21-3 in games they won the third down conversion battle, 18-1 in games they won three of the four key categories Reid often mentions (red zone efficiency, turnovers, third down conversion, penalty yards), and 13-0 when winning the turnover battle AND third down conversion battle.

It doesn't get any easier for the Chiefs this week against the Jets.

"This is back-to-back weeks we're playing against really talented fronts," Smith explained. "All these guys can get after it in the run and pass game. They're all really good and you can see it on film. It all starts up front."

The Jets are led on the outside by five-time All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.

  1. How is Marcus Peters challenged on Sunday?

At this point, it's not a secret that second-year cornerback Marcus Peters can make plays.

In the first 18 games of his career, Peters has nabbed 10 interceptions already and put himself atop some esteemed company.

Primarily playing left cornerback, Peters doesn't always have a say in who he's going to cover on any given play. The offense can dictate that by its formation, and the opponent this week—the Jets—have a three-headed monster at the receiver position, which deserves plenty of attention regardless of how they line up.

Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are established veterans, but third-year player Quincy Enunwa has caught the attention of Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.


"They have two outstanding guys at receiver that you have to deal with (in Marshall and Decker)," Sutton explained. "And number 81 [Quincy Enunwa] is playing at a really high level for them. He's upped what he's done and it's upgraded their offense."

Enunwa leads the Jets with 13 receptions this season, adding 146 yards and a touchdown.

The Jets are led at quarterback by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who paces a Jets offense that ranks No. 4 in the NFL at 416 yards per game.

"I think [Fitzpatrick] makes very good decisions," veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson explained. "He's very calculated with what he does, throwing the deep ball and trusting his receivers to make plays. The ball comes out fast and he's pretty confident."

New York's top three receivers (Marshall, Decker, Enunwa) average 6 feet 3 inches tall and 223 pounds, while the four cornerbacks on the Chiefs roster with snaps this year—Peters, Phillip Gaines, Steve Nelson and D.J. White—average 5 feet 11 and 194 pounds.

The obvious size disadvantage isn't unique to this matchup on any given week, but with three guys with good size, the Chiefs defensive backs will be challenged.

Last week against the Texans, Peters not only had two interceptions (and almost had two more), but was also called for a taunting penalty after waving his finger after an incomplete pass.

It's just one small example of the passion he plays the game with manifesting itself on the field.

"I love it," Poe said of Peters' competitive juices flowing. "You've got to understand he comes out there every day with his lunch pail ready to work, and it shows on Sundays.

"This is our life. This is our livelihood, so you're going to have some moments when you show this is what you love to do. So I don't have a problem with it at all. I love it."

Veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson agreed.

"He's my kind of guy," Johnson added of Peters. "He's an emotional player. I'm all in with what that guy does on the outside. I think cornerback is probably the hardest position physically to play.

"You're on an island and can be a hero or a zero at any time, and most of the times, [Peters] is definitely a hero."

With the trio of receivers the Jets will run out there, plus the fact that they lead the NFL with 35 plays of 10 yards or more as an offense, Peters should be challenged and have an opportunity to make plays on Sunday.

  1. Veteran running back Matt Forte's impact

Forte ranks third in the NFL after two weeks with 52 rushing attempts, averaging 3.8 yards per carry with three touchdowns.

The Chiefs defense, particularly the defensive line, is coming off a strong performance last week against Lamar Miller and the Houston Texans.

Miller was held to just 3.3 yards per carry in that game.

"The guys respect [Matt] Forte, he's a good player," Reid said earlier this week. "They've got a good offensive line, so our defensive line has to have a good week of preparation. They'll do that, that's the way they're wired. You love challenges in this business, from a coaching standpoint, player standpoint, you work so hard to play against good caliber players.

"That's what this group is, so that'll be something to watch, that matchup."

The Jets have shown a commitment to the run regardless of whether or not they're picking up chunks of yards on the ground.

On Forte's 52 carries this season, only six times has the play resulted in 10 or more yards, and 65 percent (34 of 52) of the time, those rushes are picking up four yards or less.

Their willingness to stick to the run is a big reason they've dominated the time of possession battle through two games, particularly last week against the Bills, who held the ball for just under 21 minutes in that game overall.

"We just have to get off the yard on third down," safety Eric Berry explained. "When we have an opportunity to do that, just make it happen. Whether it's in coverage or if we have the chance to make a tackle, make a play.

"They have a good group over there. [Matt] Forte is definitely a great player I believe, in catching and running the ball. We just have to have eyes for him."

The Chiefs know Forte is going to get the ball early and often.

  1. Strength on strength, control the line of scrimmage

For the Chiefs offensively, much like last week, they will be up against one of the better front sevens they'll face all year on Sunday in the Jets, who are led by Sheldon Richardson, Muhammed Wilkerson and Leonard Williams along the defensive line.

"That's an explosive group," Reid explained. "That's the strength of their defense, they're very good up front. They're two deep at that. We have to have good preparation this week for them."

The Chiefs were without their two starting guards last week in Parker Ehinger (concussion) and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle), and Smith finished the game having been sacked four times and hit 10 times.

Heading into this game on Sunday, Ehinger hasn't practiced and Duvernay-Tardif has been limited.

For the Jets defensive line, Williams (2.5), Wilkerson (1.5) and fellow defensive lineman Steve McLendon (2), account for 6 of their 7 sacks as a team, all of which came in their Week 1 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

As if it's not already obvious, if the Chiefs are to have any success through the air, Smith will need time and passing lanes to deliver the football. It's important enough to mention every week, although it's also obvious for every quarterback in every game.

On the other side of the ball, the Jets are led in the trenches by seven-time Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold, who had earned Dontari Poe's respect even before Poe was drafted into the NFL back in 2012.

"He's real good," Poe explained of Mangold. "I like him. I've been watching him since before I got to the league. So you know about Nick Mangold when you come and play nose tackle in the NFL. But I just like him.

"He's a physical guy and I feel like he's going to bring out the best in me. So I'm looking forward to that challenge."

  1. Is this the week Tyreek Hill gets loose?

The talk all throughout offseason workouts and even training camp was the blazing speed of rookie returner and receiver Tyreek Hill, and through a couple of regular season games, Hill has had moments of showing off that speed.

Hill ranks fourth in the NFL by averaging 27.7 yards per kickoff return, which obviously doesn't take into account the 105-yard return last week against the Texans that was called back by a penalty that Reid stated his disagreement with after the game.

Hill also ranks fifth in the NFL with a punt return average of 14 yards.

"Tyreek's pretty good already," Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub said earlier this week. "He has a lot of natural skills. The thing I have to be careful of is coaching him too much. Over coaching him makes him read too much, rather than let his instincts take over. On the big return that got called back, he was a bounce returner. He came and felt like those guys were over pursuing it, so he planted a foot and got up field. Those types of things you can't coach.

"You have to be able to let his instincts take over and he has to trust our blocking. (Assistant special teams coach) Brock Olivo calls it running through smoke. A lot of times the hole doesn't look like it's there. He's got to run and all of a sudden, 'bam' it shows up late and he sticks with it. Those are the things that we're working on with him.

"Knile [Davis], he's an established guy. He does what he does best—which is go north and south and when we need that type of returner, he'll be in the game. We even had one instance in a game where we had both of those guys in the game."

It's only a matter of time before Hill gets loose, and maybe Sunday is that day.

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