The Bengals welcome in the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday for an AFC showdown. Ok, so maybe not a showdown, but a game that could have implications due to in-conference and tie breaking scenarios. The Chiefs are reeling a bit after a Week 1 win against the Houston Texans. In the past two weeks they faced two teams that many consider at the top of their respective conferences. The game the Chiefs played against Denver was a pretty good indication of what this team could be. Without the mistakes (first half interception of Alex Smith and two Jamaal Charles fumbles) this game may have been closer in KC's favor. So what will it take for the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the Kansas City Chiefs?
1) Pressure Alex Smith
Alex Smith is one of the worst performing quarterbacks under pressure this season. In an offense that looks like it is designed around short plays, putting them in a hole is the key to disrupting them. By pressuring Smith you force him to either dump it off behind the line of scrimmage, throw it away, or take a sack. Against Denver under pressure, Smith was 5-of-9 for 73 yards, 1 interception and 4 sacks. Against Green Bay under pressure, he was 7-of-14 for 87 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception and 7 sacks (per PFF). The Bengals defense should be able to get to Smith and this would prove devastating to a Chiefs' offense that can't handle that pressure.
2) Stop the pass rush
The Chiefs have one of the best defensive fronts the Bengals will face. Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston are outstanding players and great in the pass rush. If the Chiefs can disrupt the Bengals line and in turn, Andy Dalton, they can force poor throws.
The Bengals have a great passing attack. Many times this is built on timing. If the Chiefs are in Andy Dalton's lap all day this could spell disaster for a major part of the Bengals' offense so far this season.
3) Throw away from Smith
Sean Smith is back on the field for the Chiefs this week. Smith has proven his ability as a corner and also is a threat to pick off an errant Andy Dalton throw. With the amount of weapons the Bengals boast on offense, it would be wise to not tempt whichever side of the field where Smith is residing.
4) Get off the field
Kansas City ranks dead last in the NFL in third-down conversions this year. Through three games, the Chiefs converted five of 30 attempts on third down. Even worse, they are 2 of 17 in the last two weeks. The Bengals' defense needs to not only force the Chiefs into third and long situations, they need to get off the field after these opportunities.
What we witnessed Steve Smith Sr. do to the Bengals last week could have been easily avoided if the Bengals would have just made tackles when they had the opportunity. Again this week, Cincinnati faces a team that boasts a player who can create something from little if there is poor tackling. Jamaal Charles is one of the top running backs in this league and the Bengals need to limit his impact in the game. He will get his touches, they just need to be minimized by the Bengals. Charles also has shown some fumbling issues this season. Good hits and tackling could create similar opportunities for the Bengals.
Leave your keys in the comments. We will come back and compare after (hopefully) a Bengals' victory on Sunday. WhoDey!