The Kansas City Chiefs will look to make it three wins in a row on Sunday night with a prime-time showdown against the New York Jets on deck.
Here are five things to keep in mind heading into game day.
1. Here's a look at the final injury report for both teams.
The Chiefs will be without linebacker Nick Bolton (ankle) and cornerback Jaylen Watson (shoulder) on Sunday as both players missed time in practice this week due to injury. It will mark the second-straight week that the Chiefs will be without Bolton, but fortunately, veteran linebacker Drue Tranquill demonstrated that he is more than capable of filling that void last Sunday.
"I thought [Tranquill] did a great job. He has been working since the day he got here, [and] he has been doing a lot of different things – he has learned multiple roles," said Linebackers Coach Brendan Daly. "The situation came up with Nick, and he was ready to go…I would say he did an excellent job."
As for the Jets, they'll be without safety Tony Adams on Sunday. Adams started each of the Jets' first two games before suffering a hamstring injury.
2. The Jets' defense is among the best in the NFL, particularly in the red zone.
New York entered this season with one of the top defenses in the NFL, featuring All-Pro talents such as cornerback Sauce Gardner and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams among several others. The Jets' may be 1-2 on the season, but that fact remains true – New York's defense is among the best in the league.
It has been a "bend-but-don't-break" effort through three games for New York, as this group ranks 22nd on third down (44 percent), 20th in net yards-allowed-per-game (351.3) and 19th in total first downs allowed (62), but – most importantly – the Jets own the No. 5 red zone defense in the league. In fact, New York has allowed eight drives of 10+ plays this season – the second-most in the NFL – but only three of eight red zone possessions have ended with touchdowns for the opponent.
It sets up an interesting matchup against the Chiefs' red zone offense, which currently ranks third in the NFL (75 percent) and is coming off a week in which they went 5-for-5 in red zone touchdown efficiency vs. Chicago.
Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy spoke about the Jets' formidable defense on Thursday.
"It's a big time challenge," Nagy said. "This defense plays very, very hard, and they're physical…It's going to be a fist fight. These guys are good…They're good on all three levels. We have our hands full, but we're excited for that opportunity."
3. Tailback Jerick McKinnon has been a touchdown machine since the latter portion of last season.
One of the Chiefs' primary weapons in the red zone over the last two seasons has been tailback Jerick McKinnon, who has a league-leading 10 touchdown catches since Week 13 of last season (and three more than second place). Additionally, only McKinnon's teammate – Chiefs' tight end Travis Kelce – caught more red zone touchdowns last season than the veteran tailback (7).
Each of McKinnon's two touchdown grabs last week took place in the red zone, and in a matchup against one of the league's top red zone defenses, McKinnon may prove to be a dynamic weapon yet again.
Outside of red zone efficiency – and this point may seem obvious – a major area of emphasis on Sunday night needs to be ball security. The turnover battle is always important, but in the case of New York, it has been the difference between winning and losing. The Jets forced four turnovers in their Week 1 victory over Buffalo, converting those takeaways into 13 points. Conversely, New York didn't force any turnovers in each of its last two games.
4. Chiefs' cornerback Trent McDuffie is currently the top-ranked corner on Pro Football Focus.
McDuffie is off to an outstanding start this season, earning the No. 1 PFF grade among all cornerbacks through Week 3. Opposing quarterbacks have a collective quarterback rating of just 73.9 when targeting McDuffie this year, completing eight passes for only 64 yards.
The second-year cornerback has split his time between the slot (90 snaps) and as a boundary corner (51 snaps) while forcing two fumbles through three weeks.
Defensive Backs' Coach Dave Merritt reacted to McDuffie's impressive PFF ranking on Thursday.
"I did not know that, [but] I see that and more. Trent is playing at a very high level right now," Merritt said. "The young man, he studies – he's probably one of the smartest DBs that I've come across at this age, as far as going into his second year. So, PFF and all the rankings that they have, they obviously have been watching the film, because he's been playing good football for us, and we need that."
5. The Jets feature some young playmakers on offense.
New York has amassed the No. 32 scoring offense in the NFL this season, but despite those results, the Jets employ a handful of playmakers who will present a significant challenge on Sunday night. That conversation begins with wide receiver Garrett Wilson – the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year – and second-year tailback Breece Hall, who rushed for 127 yards vs. Buffalo in Week 1.
They'll be facing a Chiefs' defense that has surrendered only three offensive touchdowns on the year, and prior to a score late in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's game vs. Chicago, Kansas City had gone seven consecutive quarters without allowing a trip to the end zone. Overall, Kansas City owns the No. 4 scoring defense, the No. 5 third-down defense and the No. 6 total defense in the league through three weeks.
The Chiefs will aim to maintain that defensive success on Sunday night as Kansas City takes aim at a third-consecutive victory with a matchup against the Jets.