Chiefs' ball-hawking defense ready for Saints
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Marcus Peters has duped just about every quarterback he has faced into throwing an interception to him, whether it was Peyton Manning a year ago or Derek Carr just last weekend.
He'd love nothing more than to add Drew Brees to his growing list Sunday.
The ball-hawking Peters will be tasked with leading an opportunistic Kansas City Chiefs defense against the prolific passing attack of Brees and the New Orleans Saints. It's an important game for both teams with Kansas City coming off a momentum-building win over Oakland and New Orleans having won two straight after a calamitous start to the season.
"It's the NFL. Every week you're coming in against the best," said Peters, who has a league-leading five picks this season. "You have to prepare for every quarterback to throw for 400 yards."
View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2016.
But here's the rub: Brees actually does throw for 400 yards.
Twice this season, in fact.
The 37-year-old Brees threw for 465 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Saints (2-3) to a 41-38 victory over Carolina last weekend. It was a performance that showcased the breadth and depth of the New Orleans offense, from high-flying wide receiver Brandin Cooks to tight end Coby Fleener.
Brees found four different players for touchdown passes.
"I don't have enough good things to say about him. He's a phenomenal player," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "He works at the profession, he's relentless. Is he getting better? Maybe he doesn't run as fast, but he sure has the skill throwing the football."
He also doesn't make many mistakes, at least not this year. He's only thrown four picks.
That should cause all kinds of heartburn for the Chiefs (3-2), who lost defensive end Allen Bailey and linebacker Justin March for the season this week, and could be without cornerback Phillip Gaines, who is dealing with a knee injury after having surgery to repair his ACL last year.
All of which puts even more pressure on Peters to make plays.
"When you see him, any errant throw or ball off-target, he gets his hands on. He has elite hands," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "You have to be decisive and your location has to be spot on. He can run, he can tackle. I think he's one of the real, real talented good, young corners in our league."
The matchup between Brees and Peters is only part of the intrigue on Sunday. Here are some of the other story lines:
The Saints and Chiefs have only played 10 times, and have not met in Kansas City since November 2008. But the two coaches are a bit more familiar with each since Reid spent so many years in the NFC with the Eagles.
"He's been (producing) a playoff-type caliber team and organization (wherever he's been)," said Payton, who is 3-1 against Reid, "and I consider him a close friend."
Sure, the Saints only ran for 63 yards against Carolina, and they're averaging just 78 yards per game. But with such a dynamic pass attack, Payton is only looking for some consistency on the ground to keep defenses honest.
"I think each week you look at how they are playing," Payton said, "and make your decision on how you want to win that game."
WARE IT WELL
The Chiefs showed against Oakland that Spencer Ware will continue to be a big part of their offense even with Jamaal Charles back to speed. Ware ran for 131 yards and the Chiefs had 183 yards rushing, which took pressure off quarterback Alex Smith to lead the way.
"They all have different strengths," Smith said. "That's what you can get to, those guys feeding off each other."
Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, drafted in the second round out of Ohio State, doesn't figure to be as outspoken as his uncle, Keyshawn Johnson, in demanding the ball. He doesn't need to be, because Brees is already looking for him. Thomas leads with the Saints with 26 receptions, which ties with the Giants' Sterling Shephard for the rookie lead. Thomas also has a TD catch in each of his last three games.
"He's extremely confident and humble," Payton said, "in a good way."
There was a time in the 1990s and early 2000s when Arrowhead Stadium was arguably the toughest place to play in the NFL. After a few lean years, the holder of the Guinness world record for loudest outdoor stadium has its swagger back. The Chiefs have won eight straight there.
"Any time you can get into Arrowhead, it is tough for them to win. But in the end, we have to come out and compete," Chiefs center Mitch Morese said. "We know what we have to do to win."