Heading into a huge rematch against Denver, Kansas City has some issues left over from last week's loss against the Chargers that will need to be addressed.
I thought the Chargers had excellent pass route concepts and combinations against Kansas City's man coverage. The Chiefs didn’t feel comfortable with single coverage against tight end Antonio Gates. Gates has played well against strong safety Eric Berry in the past, and clearly the Chiefs didn't feel they could line Berry up man-on-man against Gates. The film always tells you how a team feels. That took another player away from coverage, and Philip Rivers took advantage of that.
Then combine the solid concepts, such as bunch formations with natural rub elements, with the depleted pass rush and it was a tough assignment for the Chiefs.
When outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston went down with injuries, they were replaced by Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses. That's obviously a downgrade. Houston is out this week and Hali is questionable.
These issues are not great to be dealing with as the Broncos come to down.
In the first game between the Broncos and Chiefs, it was a Peyton Manning game. He got rid of the ball in 2.17 seconds, on average, and negated the Chiefs' pass rush. You don’t even need an offensive line if you get rid of it that fast. And the Broncos had great concepts vs. man coverage. And on other plays Manning read the holes in the coverage immediately and went to the right receiver.
This all raises an interesting question if the Chiefs' pass rush and defense isn’t the same – last week they were much more aggressive on offense. Will they continue that with the defense banged up? I think they’ll need to do that anyway if they want to win in the playoffs.
Denver's offense always presents challenges for an opponent. The Chiefs have some specific things to contend with after last week's loss to San Diego.
Cardinals vs. Eagles
The most fascinating matchup of the week is the Eagles' offense against the Cardinals' defense.
The Cardinals, besides having a lot of good players, blitz more than any team in the NFL and they’re good at it. They like to disguise and have multiple looks, but are they going to be able to be as multiple as they’d like against Philadelphia's up-tempo offense? How fast can Chip Kelly play?
Opponents haven't blitzed Eagles quarterback Nick Foles a lot. He has been blitzed just 42 times all season and sacked just twice against the blitz. Compare that to Peyton Manning, who has been blitzed 96 times (and he's not blitzed as much as many other quarterbacks because he's so good against it), or Drew Brees who has been blitzed 120 times. Part of the reason the Eagles don't see many blitzes is because of their tempo. Teams have to worry about simply getting lined up when they face the Eagles.
The Cardinals are not going to just sit back. I think they’re going to try to blitz. They blitzed Brees a lot earlier this season. That's what makes the matchup against the Eagles so interesting.
Tavon Austin used well again
The last few weeks, the Rams are using rookie receiver Tavon Austin in interesting ways. They did it again last week on their first series, against a Bears defense that has two rookie linebackers who are struggling with quick play recognition and misdirection.
Austin's 65-yard touchdown run was a classic misdirection. Austin started one way, stopped on a dime, turned to the other and had a lead blocker. It was a different way to get to misdirection.
I think the Rams should be doing those kinds of things, depending on opponent, more often.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.
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