Week 3: Chiefs-Saints matchup

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Kansas City at New Orleans
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome - TV: CBS; DirecTV: 711
*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
*Keys to the game: Defensive playmakers Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry are under the gun to help turn around a defense torched by the Falcons and Bills for 75 points in two games. The offense has been behind the eight-ball, forced out of its game plan and into fastbreak offense in two losses. Last week, the chips-down offense forgot about RB Jamaal Charles, who had only three carries. That won't happen in Week 3, not with the Saints getting tagged by the Panthers' run-heavy offense and the Chiefs taking further steps to lighten the burden on QB Matt Cassel. Cassel's turnovers -- five in two games -- are what the Saints covet. They have only one takeaway this season while the typically clutch offense has hit a rough patch with five turnovers. QB Drew Brees' receiving corps isn't separating from man coverage and big plays are nowhere to be found. RB Darren Sproles (18 catches) and Jimmy Graham (13) have favorable matchups every week. The Chiefs' goal is two-fold: minimize the damage to short gains and challenge the Saints to go to their plodding running game.
*Matchup to watch - Saints WR Marques Colston vs. Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers: Colston had six or more catches in nine of his 14 games played last season. He has just six in the first two games of 2012, and Flowers can play the ball until Colston shows he can get behind single coverage.
*Player spotlight - Chiefs TE Tony Moeaki: Kevin Boss appeared to suffer a head injury that kept him on the turf for several minutes at Buffalo. Moeaki isn't all the way back from a knee injury, but has the hands to be a difference maker against zone coverage.
*Fast facts: The Chiefs allowed 41 first-half points in their first two games of the season. ... The Saints have surrendered an average of 461 yards and 38.5 points per game this season.
Back at home and already with their backs against the wall at 0-2, the Saints must play with a sense of desperation. Both defenses are struggling mightily, but New Orleans still has far more consistent offensive weapons.
*Our pick: Saints 31-20

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