The Kansas City Chiefs will play host to the New York Jets in a Week 3 matchup that could very well loom large in the AFC playoff picture down the road. The Chiefs are coming off of a heart-breaking 19-12 loss to the Texans. While the Jets were able to parlay a three-touchdown performance by Matt Forte into a 37-31 win over the Bills. Both teams enter today’s matchup with identical 1-1 records.
The Chiefs head into Week 3 riding a seven-game home winning streak. They have not lost a game in Kansas City since Oct. 11 of last year. Andy Reid’s Chiefs will try to rebound from last week’s loss by making it eight wins in a row inside the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium. Standing in the Chiefs way will be a Jets team, coming off of 10 days of rest, in search of back-to-back wins on the road.
The all-time series between these two teams is currently tied at 18-18-1, although the Jets have won three of the last four meetings. However, the Chiefs came out on top the last time these teams faced off in 2014, beating New York 24-10 at home.
New York at Kansas City
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 25 at 4:25 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Kansas City -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Another Slow Start for the Chiefs?
In two games, the Chiefs have been outscored 34-6 in the first half. In 12 first half possessions, Kansas City has punted seven times, committed three turnovers and has managed just two field goals. The offense’s inability to convert on third down in the opening two quarters of play has been even more glaring. The Chiefs are an abysmal 3-for-13 (23 percent) in that department.
Granted, it’s only two games, but Kansas City cannot afford to make a habit out of digging themselves out of a hole, as it cost the team last week against Houston. And while the Chiefs have struggled in the first half, the Jets have done the opposite. New York has scored a touchdown on its opening possession in each of the first two games. The Jets have scored more points in the first half (36) than Kansas City has allowed (34). Another slow start for the Chiefs Sunday and they could see their home winning streak come to an end.
2. “Revis Island” and a Suspect Jets Pass Defense
Darrelle Revis has long been considered the NFL’s premier lockdown cornerback. Even against the best receivers, it is difficult to recall a single bad performance from him, much less two poor showings in a row. But that is exactly what has happened to the 31-year-old cornerback to start this season. In Week 1, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green put up big numbers (12 rec., 180 yards, TD) against Revis and Buffalo’s Marquise Goodwin victimized him for an 84-yard touchdown last week. According to Pro Football Focus, Revis has already yielded 183 receiving yards compared to a total of 583 for all of the 2015 season.
The question is will Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith try to exploit the aging cornerback on Sunday? Chances are he will, especially with speedy Jeremy Maclin at his disposal. Even if they don’t go after Revis specifically, Smith and company will try to test a Jets secondary that has been suspect as a whole in the first two games. New York’s defense has already allowed five pass plays of 40 or more yards, the most in the NFL. That’s almost half of the total this unit allowed all of last season (11). The Chiefs aren’t exactly known as an offense that takes lots of shots downfield, relying more on the West Coast-oriented short passing game. However, don’t be surprised if head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Brad Childress don’t let Smith air it out a couple of times Sunday afternoon if the opportunity presents itself.
3. The Jets’ Offense vs. a Beat-up Chiefs Defense
Stellar wide receiver play is crucial to the Jets’ offense. So, it doesn’t help that the top three wide receivers are banged up to some degree. While top target Brandon Marshall (knee) is the only one listed as Questionable, Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa also appeared on this week’s injury report. If they aren’t at or near 100 percent, the Jets’ passing game will suffer to some degree.
The good news is that Kansas City’s defense is dealing with its own injury issues. Top pass rusher Justin Houston is on the PUP list with a knee injury and not expected back until November. Houston’s counterpart at outside linebacker, Tamba Hali, missed practice on Friday and while he is expected to play, he may not be at full strength. Starting cornerback Phillip Gaines is questionable with a knee injury, and All-Pro safety Eric Berry has been battling knee issues as well. The Chiefs still have some heavy hitters that can disrupt the Jets’ game plan on offense, but Kansas City’s depth could be tested, especially if any more injuries happen.
One of the most important factors in this game is home-field advantage. You cannot discount the fact that the Chiefs are incredibly difficult to beat in Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City’s passing game also should be able to take advantage of a shaky Jets secondary. That said, the Chiefs’ struggles to get things going in the first half of games are very concerning. But perhaps Kansas City’s biggest concern is the overall health of its roster. Two starting offensive linemen are beat up, still no Jamaal Charles, and the defense has several key players dealing with injures. The Jets, on the other hand, are well rested, far healthier, and have a little momentum on their side. This is a tough matchup to get a read on. It’s even tougher to bet against the Chiefs on their home turf. However, the Jets simply look like the better team right now.
Prediction: Jets 24, Chiefs 20
— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS.