From Hunter to Hunted … GAMEDAY Cup O’Chiefs

How the Chiefs handle themselves and their business Sunday afternoon will go a long way in revealing just what type of potential this 2011 squad may have over the second half of the season.

The winless Miami Dolphins are in town and the Chiefs are pre-game favorites with the oddsmakers in Las Vegas for only the second time this season as they put their 4-3 record and one-third share of the AFC West lead on the line. Kickoff is just after noon CST and the television coverage is on CBS-TV.

The Chiefs are no longer the hunter, but the hunted. They have created a lot of momentum for their season and this game is important to keep that flow going in a positive direction.

If the Dolphins were 3-4 and not 0-7 this would still be a tough match-up for the Chiefs. Miami has been built with size, strength and toughness in mind, especially across the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. LT Jake Long is 6-7, 320 pounds of mean, the former No. 1 choice in the entire NFL Draft in 2008. At NT is Paul Soliai, at 6-4, 355 pounds tough to move mountain of a man.

They’ve been built in the Parcellsian manner as the coaching father of both Miami’s Tony Sparano and Todd Haley permeates both organizations. The Chiefs have had a bit more success, but the Dolphins are more to the eye of what Bill Parcells would look for; no surprise in that the Big Tuna was in charge of the football operations for three years before checking out last season.

“I think this team is well-coached; I know a bunch of those guys,” Haley said. “It shows up from a discipline standpoint – penalties and some of those statistics. This team is well-coached. They have weapons across the board. The majority of their schedule has been versus teams that still have winning records, and they’ve been in all those games and just have not been able to get it to go their way.”

Miami has yet to win a game this season, but they haven’t been embarrassed by their efforts. They lost those seven games by 14, 10, 1, 10, 18, 3 and 3 points. They’ve given up more than 24 points just twice, more than 30 just once.

“The Dolphins, this is a big physical group,” said QB Matt Cassel. “They play a 3-4 defense and they’re strong in the middle and it’s going to be another physical game for us. They’re going to challenge us on the outside at times doubling our receivers and we’ve got to be able to run the ball efficiently – it always starts with the run game and then we’ll take our shots down the field.”

Because of his friendship with Haley and the fact the Chiefs were going to be a mid-season opponent, Sparano paid a bit more attention to their season start than he might. Thus, he’s also noticed the differences with the current four-game winning streak.

“They are playing winning football right now where in the beginning of the year it was not so much,” Sparano said. “I think turnovers, big plays allowed in the beginning of the year, those kinds of things all had something to do with their start. But as of late, they have settled down, not turning it over as much, are running the ball better and are playing winning football. They are taking the football away with turnovers.”

Turnovers always come up in the conversation with the Chiefs, as it does with almost any football team. Without dominating talent across their roster, they must win games in other manners and the surest way to affect the scoreboard is taking the ball away and not giving it away.

On the season the Chiefs are minus-1 in the turnover ratio, but in their four-game winning streak they are plus-5. In that opening winless start they were minus-6. The numbers translate.

Just ask the Dolphins, who despite numbers that indicate they have not played poorly, there is a very ugly minus-8 on their record, the second worst turnover ratio in the league. Miami’s defense has been unable to take the ball away, with just four takeaways in seven games.

For Cassel, it paints a pretty clear picture to what the Chiefs need to get done.

“I think offensively, what we have to continue to strive to do is take care of the football,” Cassel said. “Those four turnovers (against San Diego), it starts with me taking care of the football.”

The Chiefs hope to turn their streak into a five consecutive victories, something only seven other teams were able to do in franchise history, that last occasion being in 2003 when they started 9-0 on the way to a 13-3 season.

“This game is just as important as last week’s,” Haley said. “It’s one of our eight home games, and every one of those counts. We dug a hole that we’re still trying to get out of.”

One Response to “From Hunter to Hunted … GAMEDAY Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 6, 2011  - Chuck says:

    If anyone out there thinks this is going to be an easy game then your first guess is WRONG. Try again. This smells like a trap game to me.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News