Each week I attempt to look at the approaching game from both perspectives. First, let’s take a look at what a loss might look like for the home team.
Kansas City is being largely overlooked by many Seahawks fans and pundits. The common refrain is that KC is a game Seattle should win at home. When people talk about how the Seahawks likely need three wins to get the division title, they point to home games against St. Louis, Carolina and KC. One of those things is not like the others. This is a disciplined and talented Chiefs team that could have won every game except one. Oddsmakers have KC as 2.5 point favorites in Seattle, where the home team typically gets 3 points automatically. It is highly unlikely that either Carolina or STL will be considered 5.5 points better than the Seahawks in Qwest.
KC is 1-4 on the road with its lone win @CLE, and the four losses @IND (by 10), @HOU (4), @OAK (3, OT), @DEN (20). They win with a league-leading rushing attack that averages nearly double what the Seahawks manage. Only once all year have they rushed for less than 113 yards as a team. They have gone over 200 yards rushing multiple times, including 274 in a game against Buffalo. Rushing yards correlate to wins & losses more than any other for the Chiefs. A win for them on Sunday will need to include over 135 yards rushing. Only two teams have rushed for more than 113 yards against the Seahawks all season. Unfortunately, both came within the last four games.
The Chiefs protect the ball better than any other team in the NFL, with only seven turnovers. Seattle feasts off of opponent mistakes in Qwest. The Chiefs can’t turn the ball over more than once and expect to win on Sunday.
Three players performance will largely decide the makeup of this game. Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster will make or break things for the Chiefs. Charles and McCluster are game-breakers who can take it to the house on any run or screen play. McCluster has been injured for a number of weeks and is coming back on Sunday. He is a rookie that has returned a punt for a TD, and is a threat in the short passing game. Seattle played the screen better against the Saints then they have at any point this season, but the Chiefs weapons are far more potent in space. Jones is the hammering counter-balance to Charles’ lighting speed. Seattle must quickly prove last week’s problems tackling were due to a great day by Chris Ivory, and not a trend. Jones will be the barometer there. Dwayne Bowe is a major threat in the passing game, but the Chiefs ability to control the ball with runs and short passes will be far more critical to the outcome. A Chiefs victory will have at least two TDs between the trio of Jones, McCluster and Charles.
The Chiefs have only won once when allowing more than 14 points. Victories generally include part ball control due to successful running on offense, and better play by their defense. Getting in a shootout is not something KC wants, or is built for. Staying in front, and keeping the Seahawks offense off the field will be key to a win for them. If Seattle scores less than 20 points, the chances of a Chiefs victory go up considerably.
Overlooking the Chiefs would be a major mistake by the Seahawks. Even looking at them as if they are just a tough opponent would be foolish. Seattle must play an excellent game to beat the Chiefs. Kansas City will be motivated to pick up just their second road victory, and have the personnel to do it. If the Chiefs can keep the Seahawks offense from continuing its resurgence, and run effectively, they could deal the Seahawks a second straight home defeat.