Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
During the season, Bent's Game Analysis charts games for some of the Jets' upcoming opponents, enabling a breakdown of what to watch out for on gameday…
The win 10 days ago in Buffalo at last gave Jets fans some grounds for optimism, but how much can truly be gleaned from a narrow win against a team apparently in disarray? A potentially stiffer test faces the Jets Sunday afternoon as they make the always-tough trip to Arrowhead to face the 1-1 Chiefs. The Chiefs lost 19-12 to the Texans last week after coming from 24-3 down to beat San Diego in overtime in their opener. The home team has won each of the last five games in this series with the Chiefs beating the Jets 24-10 in their most recent meeting in 2014.
After the jump, I break down the positional groupings (BGA-style!) to try and highlight what to watch out for.
Alex Smith remains the Chiefs' starter at quarterback, having quietly put together a solid season last year. Smith's quarterback rating of 95.4 was the second highest of his career.
In week one, he came up with some big throws under pressure and then scored the winning touchdown in overtime on a short keeper. He's a player with underrated athleticism and has faced the Jets twice in his career, winning comfortably on each occasion.
Nick Foles, recently released by the Rams, is the current backup.
The Chiefs offensive line has seen several changes and is beset with injury issues entering this game. It's on the interior where they might struggle most of all. Parker Ehinger, the opening day starter at left guard and Jah Reid, who started last week at right guard, have both been ruled out. Reid started 11 games last year, mostly at right tackle, but struggled badly. Ehinger, on the other hand, was a fourth-round pick in April's draft.
With those two out, Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will likely be the starting guards. The versatile Fulton started eight games at four different positions last year. Duvernay-Tardif started 14 games at right guard last year and seems to be on the rise, but is dealing with an ankle injury. Center Mitch Morse had a decent year last season, but has struggled so far in 2016.
The Chiefs rely on former first overall pick Eric Fisher to protect the blind side. Fisher is off to a solid start this season, but has had three penalties to lead the team. Former Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz was signed to a five-year, $33 million contract in the offseason and has already given up five sacks - two more than all of last year.
The Chiefs running backs have continued a recent trend of consistent production with both Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West averaging over six yards per carry so far. The pair combined for over 1,000 yards and broke eight runs of at least 20 yards between them in 2015 while filling in for injured pro bowler Jamaal Charles. West led the team in rushing yards, while Ware led the team with six rushing touchdowns.
Earlier this week, head coach Andy Reid implied that Charles might be set to make his long-awaited return against the Jets, but he's been officially listed as doubtful for today.
Ware entered the season with just five career receiving yards, but caught nine passes for 177 yards in the first two games, perhaps adding a new dimension to their offense. He had a costly lost fumble against the Texans, though. West can also do damage in the passing game, as he had 20 receptions last season, including one for an 80-yard touchdown.
Fullback Anthony Sherman is a good blocking back that was a second-team all pro in 2014. He doesn't touch the ball very often, however.
The Chiefs had one of the weakest receiving corps in the NFL a few years ago and actually went through the entire 2014 season without a wideout catching a touchdown pass. They've reloaded since then, though, led by Jeremy Maclin, who had a thousand-yard season and scored eight times in 2015.
Their next best target is tight end Travis Kelce, who racked up 875 receiving yards last year and caught five touchdown passes for the second year in a row. The Jets will need to be aware of him running down the seam, especially if they continue to play a lot of cover-3 and quarters coverage as they have been so far. It will be interesting to see if the Chiefs try to exploit Darron Lee's inexperience and bait him into a mistake with play action or a double move.
Young speedster Chris Conley is listed as the other starter and probably the prime candidate to test Darrelle Revis with his deep speed. Albert Wilson is a reliable number three, having caught 35 passes last year. Demetrius Harris will back up Kelce, although he's usually employed as a blocker.
The Chiefs' starting line from last year is still intact, led by 346-pound pro bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe. Kansas City has smartly reduced his workload after he played almost 1,000 snaps in 2014 and he dominated the point of attack on Sunday.
Ends Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard are also good against the run, with Howard also having contributed 5.5 sacks last year. Howard can be ill-disciplined though, as he was penalized nine times in 2015.
Off the bench, athletic rookie Chris Jones was picked in the second round out of Mississippi State and could develop into a difference maker in short order.
The Jets caught a break when it was announced that star outside linebacker Justin Houston would be starting the year on the PUP list. Disappointing former first-round pick Dee Ford is starting in his place, although he did record a sack in week one.
32-year old Tambi Hali is still dangerous and has made a strong start against the run and as a pass rusher. He had 6.5 sacks last season. Hali actually came off the bench in each of the first two games, although he is listed as a starter. Former Packer Frank Zombo has been starting ahead of him so far and has been getting more reps, mainly because Hali has been banged up throughout camp and preseason.
Veteran Derrick Johnson, who is a year older than Hali, anchors the group. He remains solid against the run and in coverage. The other starter on the inside with former Jet Josh Mauga out for the year is Justin March-Lillard, who was an undrafted rookie last year but spent the entire season on injured reserve. He usually comes out of the game in nickel and dime situations. Former Packer Sam Barrington is the primary reserve.
The Chiefs secondary got a serious upgrade last year when first round pick Marcus Peters exploded onto the scene with a defensive rookie of the year award, a pro bowl invitation and a second-team all pro selection. He intercepted eight passes and then added another in the postseason and already has two interceptions this year. However, he's not without flaws. He had nine penalties last year and has four already this year. He also got badly burned on two key plays last week, for a touchdown by Nuk Hopkins and a long catch down inside the five by Will Fuller.
Peters isn't even the crown jewel of the Chiefs secondary though. Eric Berry was voted the NFL's comeback player of the year after making an inspirational recovery from a Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis in 2014 to go to the pro bowl for the fourth time in his career. The versatile Ron Parker, a player the Jets showed interest in before signing Marcus Gilchrist, is the other starter at safety.
The other starting cornerback is youngster Phillip Gaines, who is in his third season and has 10 career starts but is a full-time starter for the first time in his career. Gaines was picked on by the Texans and gave up over 100 receiving yards. However, he's developing nicely and is regarded as one of Kansas City's best cover corners.
Steven Nelson, a third round pick from last year, is getting more reps as the number three corner, but he's more comfortable on the outside, so look for Gaines to move inside when the Chiefs operate out of their sub-package personnel groupings. Parker can also match up in the slot.
Daniel Sorenson is the third safety and rookie DJ White provides some depth at the cornerback position.
The Jets will be wary of rookie Tyreek Hill, who is averaging 15.6 yards per punt return and looks like a threat to break one at any time. He also returns kicks for them. The Chiefs already had a dynamic return man in De'Anthony Thomas, but he's been inactive for the first two games due to Hill's emergence.
Kicker Cairo Santos is off to a good start, having made a career-long 54-yard field goal last week. He's not automatic though, having missed seven field goals last year, which tied for the league lead. Veteran punter Dustin Colquitt, a 34-year old, is as reliable as they come though.
Finally, in coverage, back-up linebacker DJ Alexander was the Chiefs' leading tackler last year. Hill has started making contributions here too.
I'll be back Monday to recap the game.
Stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.