Chiefs sackmaster Justin Houston will be hunting Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton this Sunday.
The Kansas City Chiefs enter Cincinnati on a short week to face the undefeated Bengals. The Chiefs had no answers for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Monday night, and now they’ll get a red hot Andy Dalton.
Dalton has eight touchdowns and one interception in three games for the Bengals (3-0). Last Sunday’s 28-24 win over Baltimore marked the first sack and interception against Dalton, but he still he carved up the Ravens for 383 yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs (1-2) are on the road for the third time in their first four games. They’ve been able to score points, but playing against Rodgers and Peyton Manning would give any defense headaches.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Chiefs and Bengals:
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1. Give Sean Smith some help vs. A.J. Green
Kansas City can’t realistically expect its suspended top cover corner to return and shut down A.J. Green all in the same week. Green makes two or three splash plays a week; it should be up to Smith and a helping safety in order to limit Green this weekend.
2. Arms up against Andy Dalton on defense
Rodgers exposed the perfect game plan to beat Kansas City’s pressure defense — he got rid of the ball in record time. Justin Houston and Co. should expect some quick throws from Dalton this week, which means it’ll be an afternoon ripe for batted balls. If those tips become turnovers, all the better.
3. Look for Travis Kelce on third down
The Chiefs’ offense has faced 30 third downs in 2015. They’ve converted only five of them (16.7 percent) — easily the worst mark in the league. Finding their big bodied tight end with explosive play ability could help move the sticks at a better rate.
1. Get Tyler Eifert involved again
With Green surely the focal point for the Chiefs’ defense, Dalton must look to spread the ball around, particularly to his big tight end. Eifert was held without a catch in Baltimore as he was targeted just three times, although he did have a touchdown overturned by replay. Eifert had 13 for 153 yards and three touchdowns in Cincinnati’s first two games. Don’t count on a repeat performance of last Sunday.
2. Get up early
The best defense against Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is good offense. If the Bengals can get an early lead, the Chiefs will be forced to throw the ball, just like they did in Green Bay on Monday night. Charles still scored three times despite getting just 11 carries while Alex Smith attempted 40 passes. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis will glady sign up for a 1-to-4 run/pass ratio.
3. Give Andre Smith some help with Justin Houston
The Bengals have one of the best left tackles in the game in Andrew Whitworth while Andre Smith is above average on the right side. Above average isn’t going to cut it against Chiefs sackmaster Justin Houston so Cincinnati would be wise to give Smith help on the outside on passing downs.