From Arrowhead Stadium
Another victory needed in kicking game
One of the keys to the Chiefs winning streak has been their ability to get solid play out of their special teams. That must continue against the Dolphins, who have not done much in the return game (longest return/42 yards), but also have not given up much (longest return allowed/43 yards). Miami has a solid kicking duo in K Dan Carpenter (15 of 18 on FGs) and P Brandon Fields (49.2-yard gross/41.6-yard net). Overall the stats show the Chiefs with a slight edge in the kicking game and they must take advantage of that and affect field position. FAILED β At best, the Chiefs got a tie on special teams and that wasn’t good enough. Plus, they botched the pooch punt play because of lack of communication. That’s something that just can’t happen.
The Dolphins come into Sunday as the least penalized team in the league, with just 31 flags walked off against them for 274 yards. The next closest team has 35 penalties. The Chiefs have been hit with 46 penalties on the season, right about the league average of 47.8. But in the last two games they’ve picked up 19 flags, far too high a number for a team that plays with such a slim margin of victory to begin with each game. It didn’t hurt them because their opponents had a total of 26 penalties. In their four-game winning streak, they are plus-6 in penalties. FAILED β They had 8 penalties, including two 15-yard calls for unnecessary roughness that were, well, unnecessary. There was nothing smart about the manner the Chiefs played this game.
Win the turnover battle
In the last two games, the Chiefs had 10 takeaways that all were key factors to their victories over Oakland and San Diego. Over seven games they are minus-1 in the turnover ratio. Defensively, they must continue to take the ball away, while they must do a far better job of protecting it than they did against the Chargers (four giveaways). The Dolphins stand at minus-8 on the season and the biggest reason is the fact they have just four takeaways on the season (2 interceptions, 2 fumbles recovered). Finishing plus in turnovers is always huge for the Chiefs if they hope to win. FAILED β It was good that the Chiefs did not give the ball away. But right now they need to get turnovers to win. Other than an almost interception by FS Kendrick Lewis in the first quarter, the Chiefs didn’t come close to taking the ball away.
Keep throwing to setup the run
In their four-game win streak, the Chiefs have successfully thrown the ball in the first half, and saved the running game for the second half. They need to continue that trend against Miami’s No. 27 pass defense (giving up an average of 270.7 yards per game). Only Indianapolis with 15 has allowed more than the 14 TD passes given up by the Dolphins. Matt Cassel needs to strike early in the game. In the winning streak, the play calling is 54% pass/46% run. Overall, it’s 52% run/48% pass. Success in throwing will be the fastest way of opening things up and jump starting the run game. That will help close a big deficit in time of possession, where they are 3 minutes, 14 seconds in the hole. FAILED β In the first half, the Chiefs were balance on offense with 20 running and 19 passing plays. But they got nothing done with those 39 first half plays, or the 39 plays they had in the second half. Nothing went down to set up anything.