To preview the Seahawks upcoming bout with the Kansas City Chiefs, I traded scouting reports with Arrowhead Pride's Joel Thorman. Big thanks to Joel for answering a few of my questions -- make sure you follow him on Twitter and head to Arrowhead Pride for more on the Chiefs.
My questions in bold, Joel's follow:
1. How is Kansas City's injury situation looking right now? Anything major to be concerned about?
Nothing too significant for the Chiefs on the injury report this week. WR Donnie Avery has been out since Week 5 but he's making progress and could return this week. He's the Chiefs No. 2 receiver so it would be a nice boost to their passing game.
TE Anthony Fasano, the Chiefs No. 1 tight end, has a knee injury but we're thinking he should be able to play. CB Jamell Fleming started his first game a few weeks ago but then suffered a hamstring injury so I'm not sure he'll be able to play. The Chiefs have some nice depth at cornerback though so it shouldn't be a big issue either way.
The Chiefs lost RB Cyrus Gray to a torn ACL last week and he was a special teams captain. TE Demetrius Harris was also lost for the season. The Chiefs like to run three tight end sets and he was the third tight end. You could see FB Anthony Sherman filling in at tight end on those three tight end sets.
2. On offense, who are the key players that the Seahawks will have to game plan for?
RB Jamaal Charles, obviously. You probably know what he brings to the offense, both in the run game and the passing game. You'll need to identify him on every play.
TE Travis Kelce is the second tight end and will probably play somewhere around half to two thirds of the snaps. He's a major weapon in the passing game. The Chiefs like to get short passes to him because he's oddly elusive for a 6'5, 260-pound man.
The third player would be WR Dwayne Bowe. He could be a threat on slants and comeback routes but won't stretch the field.
3. Defensively, what are the Chiefs' strengths and weaknesses? How well do they defend the run? How are they against the pass?
The Chiefs' little secret is that they're not all that great at stopping the run, despite not giving up a rushing touchdown this year. They could have problems if the Seahawks decide to commit to the run. The Chiefs' pass defense is doing very well because the defensive backs are playing better than we thought they would, but mostly because of the pass rush. Justin Houston is having an awesome year and Tamba Hali is still a good player on the other side. The nice addition this year is Allen Bailey, who is providing some pass rush up the middle of the field.
4. Which under the radar players have stood out for the Chiefs this year? Bright spots? Glaring liabilities?
CB Phillip Gaines was a third round pick this year and just started playing more in the last few weeks. If he's healthy you could see the Chiefs work him in. He's a little raw but has a ton of speed and ability. We're excited about him in the small sample size we've seen.
The entire offensive line would be a bit of a liability. If you graded them out individually they would all probably receive low grades, but however they do it they can work together well -- at times. Consistency is their problem. Last week's game against Buffalo is not a good example because Buffalo's pass rush is great but if you look at the four games prior to that the Chiefs offensive line had been playing better as a unit. They're a mixed bag heading into the Seattle game. Despite their struggles I don't think it's a given that the Seahawks pass rush will ruin the game for the Chiefs.
5. Finally, how have Kansas City's special teams units performed this season?
Save a few low points the Chiefs special teams has been decent this year. Kicker Cairo Santos has made 10 straight field goals after a rough start. Knile Davis and De'Anthony Thomas will return kicks and both are a threat to take it the distance (which Davis did a few weeks ago). Dustin Colquitt is, for our money, the best punter in the league and a legitimate weapon, especially with the Chiefs defense.
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