Are you guys ready for the NFL Game of the Week? Well too bad, because you're getting the 0-3 Vikings visiting the 0-3 Chiefs instead! While Minnesota gave away halftime leads in all three games, Kansas City has played from behind nearly the entire season thus far. Injuries have plagued KC big time, and the Vikings have been constantly hindered by...well, themselves.
Who will finally break through to get their first victory of the season this Sunday? Are Chiefs fans as unhappy with Matt Cassel as we are with Donovan McNabb? Who actually won the Jared Allen trade? To get more insight about our upcoming opponents, we asked our weekly Five Good Questions to Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride.
Daily Norseman: The Chiefs have already been decimated by season-ending injuries to key players like Tony Moeaki, Jamaal Charles, and Eric Berry. In your opinion, which player will the Chiefs miss the most throughout the season and why?
Arrowhead Pride: The one we'll miss the most is Charles. Moeaki is a nice complement in the offense and he was expected to have a rising role on the team so that one does hurt but at the end of the day he's a tight end and not a focal point of the offense. Berry is a terrific player--and they don't have a lot of depth behind him--so his loss certainly hurts. But even with those losses, you felt the Chiefs always had a shot as long as Charles was on the team. With him gone, the Chiefs offense is so ordinary (at best).
DN: After getting blown out in their first two games, Kansas City gave the Chargers everything they could handle before falling just short in Week 3. What changed from the first two weeks that allowed the Chiefs to be so much more competitive against a tough divisional opponent?
AP: The Chiefs defense played much better. They pressured Philip Rivers, created a couple turnovers and generally looked competent. They gave up 41 and 48 points in the first two weeks before allowing just 10 points in each half against San Diego. The Chiefs can win with the defense we saw last Sunday against the Chargers.
DN: How do you feel about Matt Cassel as your quarterback? He led the team to the playoffs last year, but has had a rough start to 2011 including an inexplicable interception at the end of last week's game. Do you think the Chiefs can win with him down the road, or has KC's 0-3 start already started grumblings of "Suck for Luck" among Chiefs fans?
AP: The Suck For Luck calls are out in full force now. I think even the objective viewer has started to lose, or already lost, hope in Cassel. We saw his ceiling in 2010 and even that wasn't an all-world performance. He's not the answer in KC. It's clear to everyone. If the Chiefs had a better backup in place I think you'd hear more calls for him to be benched (even though some are calling for him to be benched anyway).
DN: We're almost three and a half years removed from the Jared Allen trade, where the Vikings sent a first- and two third-round picks to Kansas City for the dominant defensive end. The Chiefs ended up drafting their starting left tackle, Branden Albert, with that first round pick. Do most Chiefs fans regret shipping Allen away, or are they OK with what they got in return?
AP: I think we're generally OK with what we got in return. Allen is a great player, that's true, but so is Jamaal Charles, the pick used in the third rounder acquired in the trade. Usually there are clean winners and losers in a big time trade like this but I think both sides came out OK.
DN: Give us one player on offense and one on defense that most Vikings don't know about that could have a big impact on Sunday's game. Finally, give us your prediction on who will win Sunday's "Somebody Has To Win" Bowl.
AP: A player on offense you should know about is Dexter McCluster. He'll line up mostly at running back but he'll catch a few passes out of the backfield, too. He's a nice complementary weapon for the Chiefs but not a focal point of the offense. A player on defense you should know about is of course Tamba Hali. He's a terrific pass rusher and, even though he's not putting up the numbers he did last year (not yet, anyway), he's arguably the Chiefs best defensive player and by far the best pass rushing option. As for a prediction on the game, I have to pick the Chiefs to win. They're 0-3 so I need to believe they can win at home. They struggle against big defensive lines, so that's a concern, but give me a 20-17 victory and I'll be happy.
Thanks a ton to Joel for dropping some KC knowledge on us. My Q&A with Arrowhead Pride should be available on their site soon.