After impressive season-opening wins against AFC playoff contenders Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, Kansas City finally gets to play at home in week three. With the Chiefs’ offense knack for creating fireworks, it’s a safe bet that Arrowhead Stadium will be one loud sea of red come game time.
Kansas City welcomes in San Francisco, which sports a 1-1 record. Patrick Mahomes has been the darling of the league this season but last year that distinction was held by 49ers glamour boy quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Neither team has given up less than 24 points in the first two weeks, so the game might be shown in its entirety on NFL RedZone. So, besides taking another stab at playing defense, what are the keys to the game if the Chiefs want to get to 3-0 on the season?
Patrick Mahomes vs. History
Before the season, Sports Al Dente ran a feature about how it was imperative for Kansas City that Mahomes be great, not good. Well, the former Texas Tech signal caller is fairly emphatically checking off that box.
Through two games, Mahomes has 10 touchdowns with zero interceptions and a quarterback rating of 143.3. That’s not just a little bit great, that’s historically great. The Chiefs new star has suddenly become the NFL’s hottest commodity, with closer examinations being paid to his budding legend.
No matter how tremendous Mahomes has been, however, the fact is that he’s still only started three games. Andy Reid‘s offense is humming right now, with weapons all over the field, but defensive coordinators get paid a lot of money to figure out quarterbacks. It’s worth noting, again, that Big Red can also make quarterbacks look really good. That’s not to belittle how impressive Mahomes has been, just to say that it’s still a really small sample size.
With three touchdowns against San Francisco, he would be on a faster pace than Peyton Manning during his record-setting 55 TD 2013 season. Nobody should start casting his bust for Canton just yet, but, in just his second year, Mahomes is already chasing history.
Reuben Foster vs. Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt
Foster just got off the NFL’s naughty list after serving a two-game suspension to start the season for multiple infractions. Garoppolo justifiably got all of the press for San Francisco’s season ending five-game winning streak to close out 2017. The defense, though, showed far more with Foster manning the middle than it has shown this year.
As the opening win over the Chargers proved, Mahomes can be dangerous even when Kelce and Hunt are bottled up. A little dose of Tyreek Hill goes a long way, after all.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) September 9, 2018
The Chiefs offense becomes otherworldly though if Hunt and Kelce start clicking. Last week was a reminder of just how good the team’s All-Pro tight end is when he found the end zone twice. Hunt, the NFL’s rushing leader last season, is still looking for his 2018 breakout.
Rookie Fred Warner has played well in Foster’s stead. The BYU product has 19 solo tackles and a forced fumble to his credit. That said, Foster has a nasty streak that can infuse an entire defense. The Niners could use some of that if they hope to slowdown Kansas City’s fast break offense.
Houston, the Chiefs outside linebacker, is getting paid an awful lot of money to rush the quarterback. He earned his huge contract after getting 22 sacks in 2014. That was his last season of double-digit sacks, but he was close last season with 9.5.
So far this season, Houston has zero sacks. Granted, his counterpart on the other side, Dee Ford, only has a single sack and the entire defense only has two. Still, Houston is supposed to be a premier pass rusher.
While Ford will be going against 49ers veteran Joe Staley, who might be diminished but still knows all of the tricks of the trade. Houston will be rushing against rookie McGlinchey.
The Notre Dame product has been good in his first two games, having to kick into right guard during San Francisco’s first game for a time. Kansas City’s defense has been shaky as a whole and Garoppolo proved last year that he can pick apart inferior defenses.
Houston has to find a way to get around the 49ers first round pick and put pressure on Garoppolo. The Detroit Lions managed six sacks last week and no one is going to mistake Matt Patricia’s group for the second-coming of the Steel Curtain.
The Chiefs have proven that they can outscore any team in the league. It would just be nice if the defense made that a little easier one of these weeks.