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Chiefs vs. Lions: Game Preview

The Chiefs take on the Lions at Wembley Stadium in London



GAMETIME: 8:30 a.m. CST on Sunday, November 1

LOCATION: Wembley Stadium in London, England


HOW TO LISTEN:101.1 The Fox



Amid everything that goes into a NFL team's trip to London—nearly a year of planning that involves the transportation of 53 of some of the planet's biggest humans across the Atlantic—what it really is at the end of the day for the Kansas City Chiefs (2-5) is nothing more than a business trip.

The Chiefs need to win a regular season football game to further their chances of making the postseason, and handling the travel of a nine-hour flight becomes part of that challenge. 

"You try to make the players as comfortable as you possibly can and get rest," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of the unique travel earlier this week. "We're leaving in the evening and we're flying all night, so it's important that they get rest on the flight, the best way they can."

After discussing the matter with head trainer Rick Burkholder, Reid and the Chiefs opted to hold their first two practices in Kansas City on Wednesday and Thursday, left for London Thursday night and held their final practice of the week on Friday.  

Having made it safely across the ocean, Kansas City now looks to build upon the success of last week's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers that snapped their five-game losing streak.

In order to do so, the Chiefs will need to beat a Detroit Lions (1-6) team that shook up its coaching staff last week after a rough start to the season.

The biggest change for Detroit was the promotion of quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter to the offensive coordinator position. Cooter, who spent a year as an offensive assistant with the Chiefs in 2012, will call offensive plays for the first time in his coaching career on Sunday against the Chiefs.


Cooter was quoted in saying this week that his offense will likely be "Matt Stafford-friendly." Stafford enters Week 8 against the Chiefs with 1,866 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

"From a throwing standpoint, [he's] one of the best quarterbacks in our league," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of Stafford. "He's got a great arm. One of the things he can do is he can change the angle of his arm to throw, which not everybody can do."

Stafford's most targeted weapon is wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who leads the team in yards receiving with 574. 

Despite how impressive Johnson can look, rookie cornerback Marcus Peters, who leads the Chiefs in interceptions with 3, appeared up for the challenge.

"You play this game to compete against the best and he's one of the best at the position right now," Peters said. "He's big, he's physical and he has a whole lot of attributes that he can do, but we go out and we execute the game plan. That's it."

With defensive lineman Mike DeVito (concussion) out for the second game in a row, Allen Bailey, Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard should see the majority of time up front. Linebacker Dee Ford could also get in the mix with Tamba Hali (knee) officially listed as questionable. 

In last week's win against the Steelers, with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back Jamaal Charles out, the Chiefs relied on three of their up-and-coming stars in receivers Chris Conley and Albert Wilson and running back Charcandrick West on the offensive side of the ball.


West had the best game of his young career, compiling 110 yards rushing and a touchdown. This week, he faced the test of practicing while his body dealt with a starter's load of carries for the first time in his career.

"The one thing that he can learn from is now that he's been playing the last two weeks—full body contact," offensive coordinator Doug Pederson explained. "He was a little bit sore during the week and now, it becomes more mental than it does physical because he has the tools to play the running back position at this level."

Much of West's success came as a result of a key shift in Kansas City’s offensive line, but that will change again this week as left guard Ben Grubbs has officially been ruled out for the game with a neck injury. Grubbs has played the left guard position in each of the first seven games for Kansas City this year.

On the right side of the injury pendulum, the Chiefs welcome back WR Jeremy Maclin in the passing game after he missed last week's game due to a concussion. Even after missing a game, Maclin is quarterback Alex Smith's most targeted player and he'll be looking for his second touchdown of the season in London.

Although Detroit's defense ranks 27th in yards allowed per game (392.3), Smith will need to pay special attention to defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who leads the Lions in sacks with 6.

"He's caught our eye," Reid said this week. "I think he's probably caught everybody's eye in the National Football League … So we'll know where he is. He's not the only one they have, so you've got to make sure you've got them all covered, but he's playing at a very high level right now."

After five losses in a row, the Chiefs stopped the bleeding last week, and now they find themselves in a position to build upon that momentum.

That chance comes more than 4,000 miles away in an inter-conference battle with the Lions.   

Once the business trip is over, the bye week begins, and a potential winning streak in the making will provide much better time off than the alternative.

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