They Can’t Afford Another “L” … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

There is no way to discount the importance of the outcome of Sunday’s meeting between the winless Chiefs and the winless Minnesota Vikings.

Kickoff is at noon, with TV coverage on FOX.

Todd Haley likes to break the season into quarters, and this game at Arrowhead Stadium is the final chance of the first quarter of the season for victory. Lose to the Vikings and the season’s first quarter has been wasted. The difference between being four games under the .500 mark vs. two games with a victory is huge.

When this game is over late Sunday afternoon, the Chiefs season will either be buried deeply in a hole of their own making, or they will have stopped the bleeding and can consider the possibilities of the next 12 games.

“We just need to go out and win; it’s a must for us to do that,” said ILB Derrick Johnson. “We’ve got to get this thing turned around or before you know it, we are so far behind the rest of the season doesn’t have much meaning.

“This isn’t a season where we just wanted to play 16 games. We wanted to defend our division title. We wanted to go back to the playoffs. The only way that happens is if we win and that needs to start now.”

The Chiefs would seem to have their best opportunity to get victory No. 1 against today’s opponent. Buffalo, Detroit and San Diego are a combined 8-1. The Vikings have lost to San Diego, Tampa Bay and Detroit. If the games had only lasted 30 minutes, Minnesota would be 3-0. They became only the third team in NFL history to have three straight games where they held a 10-point lead or more in the second half and ended up losing. Here are the dirty details for the Vikings:

– In the opener against the Chargers, it was a 17-7 lead for Minnesota in San Diego. That included a 103-yard kickoff return for a score by Percy Harvin. But in the second half, the Chargers had a 17-0 edge on the scoreboard and won by a touchdown, 24-17.

– The Vikings scored the first 17 points of Game No. 2 at home against Tampa Bay and led 17-0 at intermission. But the Buccaneers dominated the game in the second half, scoring 24 points and keeping Minnesota out of the end zone. Tampa Bay won 24-20.

– Last Sunday in the Metrodome, the Vikings led the Lions 20-0 at half-time. Coming back on the field, Detroit scored the next 23 points thanks to a pair of Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson TD plays and three FGs from Jason Hanson. But the Vikings got the game into overtime, only to lose by a Hanson field goal in the extra period. Detroit won 26-23.

“The games have come down to the last play sometimes,” said Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier. “Along with our being able to convert third downs, our being able to limit points allowed in the second half; those have been things that have crept up in the second half of games.”

Until last week, the Chiefs had their own second half problems. In the first two games they struggled so badly on offense that they never took a snap on their opponent’s side of the field. Last week, they played the first half without producing a first down, but came out in the second half and put together their best performance of the season, scoring 17 points. It was still three points fewer than San Diego, but certainly more impressive than losing by 34 and 45 points as they did in the first two games.

Every football game is decided on the line of scrimmage and based on what’s happened over the short three weeks of the 2011 season, the Vikings have a nice advantage there. Behind Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota running game is averaging 159 yards per game, ranking No. 3 in the league. The Chiefs run defense is ranked No. 28, allowing 123 yards per game.

Flip that around and the Chiefs running game without Jamaal Charles is averaging 113.3 yards per game, ranking No. 9 in the league. The Vikings run defense is ranked No. 4 in the league, allowing an average of 67.3 yards per game.

Simply put, the Chiefs have to be able to run the ball and protect QB Matt Cassel against one of the league’s better defensive lines with DE Jared Allen and DT Kevin Williams. Linebackers Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson are the tackling leaders and they do a very good job of filling the gaps against the run game. In the secondary, Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin are one of the better cornerback pairs in the league.

Offensively, the Vikings have weapons that can test a defense, like big-play makers in Peterson and WR Percy Harvin. QB Donovan McNabb is not in his prime, but at any moment he’s capable of turning into a passing machine, especially with Harvin, WRs Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins and TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

The Chiefs are counting on QB Matt Cassel putting last Sunday’s devastating late interception behind him.

“I think you just have to try to keep things in perspective,” Cassel said of the play and results. “Some are harder than others, but at the same time, you really do have to learn how to turn the page in this league and you can’t let it hold you down or hold you back because there’s another game coming on Sunday.”

Another game, another Sunday, another opportunity for the Chiefs to get a victory and end their streaks of five straight losses in games that count and nine straight overall. They remain zero for 2011.

It makes Sunday a big, big day.

3 Responses to “They Can’t Afford Another “L” … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 2, 2011  - RW says:

    Most all NFL teams are better than the Chiefs. Reality.

  • October 2, 2011  - Michael says:

    RW, granted and I am not making excuses here, but it would be hard to believe any other team enduring the adversity the Chiefs have in the last two months and still compete. As Bob has mentioned several times, the margin of error for this team was very small to begin with and the quality of the back-ups is sub-standard enough that key players are not replaceable and still maintain the level of play established last year.

    Bob, great read for game-day. The first two weeks of the season felt like mike tyson was happily rearranging the bones of my face while I stood there with no means of defense. Later finding myself begging the football gods not to embarrass the Chiefs last week. They sort of granted me the wish and now it’s time to change tactics. I will just man up and ask them (F.G.) for a win. The Chiefs have endured enough, they have paid their penance, forgive their indiscretions and endow them a win.

    Spectacles, te*ticles, wallet, and watch,

    GO CHIEFS!!!

  • October 2, 2011  - TDKC says:

    Big game is right. A wasted season might mean less interest from me. might even turn off the TV on Sundays. Wait,that means more work around the house…come on Chiefs win one.

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