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Tag:Glenn Dorsey
Posted on: December 28, 2011 3:00 pm
 

Film Room: Broncos vs. Chiefs preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


Reputations will be on the line in Denver this Sunday. A Broncos win keeps the Tim Tebow mania alive, as it means the Mile High City will host a playoff games for the first time in six years. John Elway would almost certainly be compelled to keep his promise of bringing Tebow back in 2012, and the Broncos might start building around their unconventional quarterback.

A Broncos loss, however, jeopardizes the Tebow mania, as the unskilled passer who does nothing but win would have finished the season on a three-game losing streak. The fallout would be even worse for Elway given that the loss will have come at the hands of Kyle Orton, the veteran quarterback whom Denver allowed Kansas City to claim scot-free. Here’s the breakdown of Sunday’s matchup:

Last time
1. The Week 10 matchup
When these teams met back in Week 10, the Broncos completed just two passes (total!). One of those passes happened to be a 56-yard touchdown to Eric Decker, which, mixed with 244 yards on 55 rushing attempts, was enough for a Broncos victory.

Schematically, the Chiefs were prepared to stop the Broncos’ freshly unwrapped read-option run game; they had athletic inside linebacker Derrick Johnson spy Tebow, brought safeties into the box and had outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston stay home on the edge.

Physically, however, the Chiefs defensive line got manhandled. Their lack of penetration allowed the Broncos to continuously pick up three and four yards on banal inside carries. Tebow registered two big runs off the read-option, isolating end Glenn Dorsey on one run and Lawrence Jackson on the other. Because those two former first-round picks were neutralized by one-on-one blocking, Denver’s interior linemen consistently got bodies on Kansas City’s linebackers.

On the other side, Denver’s pass-rush got to Matt Cassel and their back seven defenders simply “out-athleted” Kansas City’s skill players.

This time
2. Chiefs D vs. Broncos run game
Some of the sizzle has naturally left the read-option, but that isn’t to say it’s not still an effective approach. The read-option forces a defense to play ultra-sharp, assignment-based football. As we saw early in the Week 15 Patriots game at Denver, when defenders fail to take on blocks at proper angles or keep the action from going outside, they get gouged.

Expect the Chiefs to be better against the read-option this time around. Hali and Houston have been excellent edge run-defenders in recent weeks.  Dorsey and Jackson are still hit or miss, but they’re more likely to “hit” when they can play finesse and attack gaps or work down the line of scrimmage. Their misses pile up when they’re forced to play with power in a phone booth.

The Chiefs know this and now know how to gameplan accordingly. They just watched the Bills defensive linemen last week attack gaps to eliminate some of the running lanes for Bronco ballcarriers. Those defensive linemen did not make the tackle or even always occupy multiple blockers, but by taking some of the “options” out of the read-option, they made the ballcarrier hesitant and, thus, predictable. That translated to minimal gains against an eight-man box.

3. Kansas City manning-up in pass defense
The Bills were able to be aggressive with their eighth box defender because they knew they could stop the Bronco passing game with man coverage. That’s a great defensive tactic against Denver’s offense, as possession type receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are best handled that way.

Man defense also takes away the surprise factor in the screen game and keeps a spy on Tebow, which limits his scrambling. The irony is that Tebow has shown he’s more inclined to scramble against man coverage. The reason for this is, not being strong-armed or a precision passer, Tebow is uncomfortable fitting the ball into tight areas. To a young quarterback, NFL man coverage makes all areas appear tight. If Tebow’s first read isn’t there, his first instinct is to tuck and run.

The defensive risks in a man coverage approach are linebackers missing their assignments when they bite on a good read-option fake (which Buffalo’s did on Dante Rosario’s 32-yard catch-and-run), or players allowing themselves to be taken out of run defense position by an easy release (which is when a tight end runs a pass route away from the point of attack on a run play, carrying his man-defender with him right out of the picture).

The Chiefs – with two superb press corners in Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers outside, a shifty slot corner in Javier Arenas and athletic linebackers – should eagerly bog down and play man this Sunday. They beat the Packers with this formula two weeks ago and would have beaten the Raiders last week if they had stayed with it the entire game (they went to Tampa 2 a small handful of times and saw their safeties get burned by speedy receivers on two long passes that decided the outcome).

Broncos vs. Chiefs: Orton's revenge? (Getty Images)

4. Kyle Orton
In some ways, the seven-year pro is the consummate system quarterback. Whatever the system calls for, Orton delivers. He can post big numbers in a wide open aerial attack like he did two years ago under Josh McDaniels, or he can move the chains in a ball control scheme like he did two weeks ago under Romeo Crennel. His issues are consistency and playmaking.

Orton managed the game brilliantly against Green Bay two weeks ago and then threw two costly interceptions by failing to read basic safety help last week against Oakland. In Denver, Orton’s limitations showed up when John Fox and Mike McCoy installed a more traditional system to run with only mediocre receivers. Orton was unable to extend plays and improvise, which is why the Broncos offense was lethargic until Tebow replaced him.

Overall, the Chiefs can feel good about who they have under center in this game. Orton is certainly familiar with the opponent. He has terrific ball-handling skills, which allow him to manipulate safeties and execute play-action effectively. And since taking over, he’s made good use of his tight ends and running backs in the passing game.

5. Chiefs base offense
Tight ends and running backs could be prominent in the Chiefs’ passing attack this week given that linebackers Joe Mays and Von Miller aren’t great in coverage out of base defense. The Broncos will spend more time in base defense than they have in recent weeks, as the Crennel-led Chiefs predominantly utilize run-first personnel.

The run formations will keep Miller at strongside linebacker, nullifying his punishing first-step off the edge. Miller doesn’t have to line up at defensive end in order to rush the passer; he’s a great blitzer from the second level. However, teams lately have used a lot of three-and five-step drops against Denver, which completely nullifies a second-level blitzer and significantly softens the impact of pass-rushing ends. That’s the best way to contain Miller and Elvis Dumervil (who has come alive after a slow start).

Against the quick drops, the Broncos should tighten their coverage and force the Chiefs receivers to beat them early in the down. Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin are strong but not savvy enough to outmaneuver veterans like Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman. Steve Breaston is quick and can get early spacing by lining up off the line, but most of his (limited) damage this season has come on deeper crossing patterns, not quick strikes.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 17 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:07 pm
 

Film Room: Steelers vs. Chiefs preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Let’s be honest: Chiefs-Steelers is not a great matchup. It’s the Sunday night game because this week’s great matchups all fall on Turkey Day. A straight-up breakdown of this game would yield predictable analysis, with a “take your pick” list of reasons why the Steelers can be expected to cruise to victory (the most obvious being, Tyler Palko’s tendency to pat the ball and re-hitch in the pocket; if the Patriots D generated sacks and interceptions off that weakness, what will the Steelers D do?).

But this matchup is certainly not worthless. Analyzing its contrasts and comparisons gives us a chance to examine some of the broader pictures of today’s NFL. Here are five of them.


1. Valuing an offensive line
As passing games have evolved rapidly in recent years, we’ve started to change our outlook on offensive lines. These days every lineman weighs north of 300, and a lot of them move pretty well. What separates good and bad lines is the mental approach. The aggressiveness and versatility of blitzing defenses has put a premium on blockers’ intelligence.

It doesn’t matter how well a lineman moves his feet if those feet are taking him to the wrong assignment. With the league-wide increase in Byzantine defenses and quick, timing-based passes, for an offensive lineman, recognizing an assignment is often more challenging and important than executing an assignment.

The Steelers offensive line, battling countless injuries and personnel changeability the past few seasons, has struggled mightily at times in recognizing pass-blocking assignments. This is a window into another revelation. The idea that you need a great offensive line to protect your quarterback is becoming less and less valid. The reality is you need a great quarterback to protect your offensive line.

Now, don’t take this too far. Of course you need to protect your quarterback. But in today’s pass-oriented league, one superstar quarterback can compensate for five “not-so-superstar” offensive linemen. Most superstar quarterbacks do it through presnap reads (see Brees, Drew or Manning, Peyton -- two guys who have played behind arguably the worst offensive tackle combinations of their respective conferences the past few years). Ben Roethlisberger does it through incredible postsnap improvisational abilities.

No one can argue that the Steelers have had anything more than an average offensive line the past five seasons. But no one can argue that the Steelers offense has not been still been successful. It’s when your quarterback is, say a 28-year-old left-handed fringe backup, that your offensive line woes become problematic.

2. 3-4 defensive ends
A leading ingredient to the Steelers’ defensive success has been the outstanding play of their ends. This ingredient was secret until just recently, when Brett Keisel finally went to the Pro Bowl and casual observers finally appreciated Aaron Smith after injuries took him out of the lineup. The value of great 3-4 ends is that they can attract forms of double teams.

(We say forms of double-teams because there’s a misguided belief that a double-team is one player needing to be blocked by two blockers for an entire play; in reality, for an end, attracting a double-team simply means forcing a guard or tight end to make some sort of contact with you in a manner that prevents them from being able to get out in front and block an inside linebacker. Making that contact last the first 1.5 to 2 seconds of a play is all it takes. For many intents and purposes, a 3-4 end is actually more of a blocker than a pulling guard.)

The Steelers scheme calls for the ends to disrupt through motion more than power. Lateral mobility is a key trait. If both ends are destructive along the line of scrimmage, Pittsburgh’s three defensive linemen will stalemate the opposing team’s five offensive linemen, leaving room for the four linebackers to make plays. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert recognizes the value of this; he invested his ‘09 first-round pick on Ziggy Hood and his ’11 first-rounder on Cameron Heyward.

Scott Pioli also recognized this value when he became the Chiefs general manager in 2009. He converted defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the No. 5 overall pick in ’08, to end and spent his No. 3 overall pick in ’09 on LSU’s Tyson Jackson. The results, however, have been disappointing. Dorsey and Jackson are both movement-oriented players. Problem is, Kansas City’s scheme is more like New England’s old 3-4, where the ends cause disruption not through motion but through sheer power.

Consequently, neither Dorsey nor Jackson have been worthy of consistent double teams. That was painfully apparent watching the Broncos-Chiefs film from Week 10. The Broncos didn’t win that game because Tim Tebow mastered the read option -- they won because their tackles manhandled the Chiefs ends one-on-one, allowing the guards to easily get a body on inside linebackers Derrick Johnson and Javon Belcher.

3. Chiefs Injuries impact -- tight end versatility
You could argue that Kansas City’s season ended when tight end Tony Moeaki tore his ACL in August. Moeaki was not just a flexible receiver who could work off the line of scrimmage or out of the slot -- he was also a versatile run-blocker. His ability to operate out of shifts and motions brought potency to the play-action game and allowed the Chiefs to disguise a lot of their run concepts.

In this sense, Moeaki was very similar to Heath Miller, Pittsburgh’s steady, soft-handed, fundamentally fine-tuned X-factor. In today’s NFL, where every play is preceded by a chess match at the line of scrimmage, a tight end who is versatile in the run AND pass game is invaluable.

4. Chiefs injury impact -- safety versatility
Same concept as tight end, just different side of the ball. The loss of Eric Berry (ACL Week 1) not only took away Kansas City’s rangiest pass defender, it also took away Romeo Crennel’s third-level blitzes, which previously had given opponents fits. Berry’s speed and open-field hitting made him an easily disguisable weapon. With him out, the Chiefs don’t just lose his big plays, they also lose the indecisiveness that his presence naturally instills in opponents.

As far as a parallel to this in the Steelers defense ... you can probably figure it out on your own

5. Understanding the value of a playmaker
On a similar note, let’s take this opportunity to grasp the full value of a playmaker like Jamaal Charles (lost for the season with an ACL in Week 2). As with Berry, when a weapon like Charles goes out, you don’t just lose explosive plays, you lose the threat of explosive plays. Charles was Kansas City’s only true playmaker (that is, a guy who can regularly create his own opportunities with the ball in his hands; the Steelers have two players like this: Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace).

It would take 10,000 words to explain, but in short, in watching film, it’s apparent that the difference between the way defenses attack an offense that has a truly explosive weapon versus the way a defense attacks an offense that don’t have one is staggering.

That likely stems from the difference in preparation during the week. Think about it. How much practice time does a defense devote specifically to “not getting killed” by Charles? With him gone, that’s how much practice time the defense now has to devote towards creating unique ways to attack.

A business analogy: as a defense, prepping for Charles is like sitting around the boardroom talking about covering your bases so you don’t get sued; prepping for “no Charles” is like sitting around the boardroom brainstorming the next big idea. Which meeting will ultimately lead to more sales?

What’s more, for an offense, when it becomes apparent that your gameplan is not working, a true playmaker still offers the hope and possibility of success. (And all the players know this.) Without a true playmaker, a staggering offense often hopes to simply control the damage by waiting for a lucky break. When that’s reflected in the play-calling, the entire team becomes reactionary.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: March 30, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Kansas City Chiefs

Posted by Will Brinson

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups . Also, check out our checkup podcast:





The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t -- as a certain former Chiefs coach-turned-analyst said -- the “story of 2010.” Maybe at the midway point of last year, but now? Come on. Still, watching the Todd Haley’s crew grow up right before our very eyes last year was definitely fun.

And definitely a reason to give tons of credit to Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis, the two coordinators that managed to get a slew of the Chiefs’ early-round draft picks to actually play to their potential. Glenn Dorsey, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, and Tamba Hali all blossomed on the defensive side, and Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki turned into fantastic offensive seasons.

Various talent levels aside, there were too many players who took a step forward in 2010 to simply call it a coincidence. Sustaining those levels, though, is the bigger problem.




Scheme, Blocking

The offensive skill positions are pretty well set for KC (depending on what you think about Matt Cassel anyway, and with the notable exception of a second wideout with wheels) and if they can bring back Brandon Carr, the secondary is going to be sick long-term, and possibly even as soon as next year.

But the Chiefs still need some help in the trenches, though. Defensively, Tyson Jackson played well before suffering an early season injury and Glenn Dorsey certainly made people in Kansas feel a little better about his top-five selection.

And offensively, well, it’s pretty obvious how good this team can be. The biggest question is whether or not Haley can stay out of his own way. (Or, alternately, if Weis really is that brilliant a playcaller -- 2011 will let us know to some degree.) Weaknesses in one particular area -- offensive line -- could put the risk of not repeating on the table.




1. Offensive Line
The key indicator that the Chiefs’ offensive line played better than it is in 2010 is the differential in yards per carry for Thomas Jones (3.7) and Jamaal Charles (6.4). That’s not to say the two backs are equal, because they’re absolutely not; Charles is many times better than Jones at this stage. But Charles also creates his own yardage to a significant degree, and made it easier for KC to be the top rushing team in the NFL. There’s enough talent at O-line in the draft this year to warrant beefing up early.

2. Wide Receiver
Chris Chambers, clearly, isn’t the answer to line up across from Bowe, who had one of the more dominant stretches by a wide receiver we’ve seen in a while across the middle of last season, despite the Chiefs not offering anyone that warrants not double-teaming the Pro Bowler. Putting a talented speedster on the opposite side of Bowe would boost the offense’s overall potent-ability and make life easier for Cassel.

3. Defensive Line
Though the defense produced some surprises from guys who previously underwhelmed, don’t be shocked if the Chiefs look to the defensive line with an early pick in this draft. There’s ample talent available in the early rounds (we’ve covered the depth at this position, no?) and stockpiling some big bodies will bode well for an overall defensive improvement in 2011.



2011 will carry the unusual burden of high expectations for Kansas City. On offense, that’s a distinct possibility if Charlie Weis’ presence really was that important to the development of his skill position guys (Cassel, Bowe and Charles, specifically). If Kansas City struggles to score points out of the gate, all fingers will be pointing at Todd Haley, who’s reportedly clashed enough with Weis to run the big guy out of Dodge and down to work for Will Muschamp in the college ranks.

Defensively, Crennel can help continue to restore his reputation if Jackson can step up and the Dorsey/Johnson can keep the redemption story rolling. Eric Berry, Javier Arenas, Brandon Flowers, and Carr should grow as well, so there’s absolutely some upside from last year’s defensive performance.

It’ll all come down to expectations, though. If some of the guys who performed so well last year regress, or the offensive performances in 2010 were a mirage built on Weis’ brain, there’s a good chance that 2011 looks more like a mirage than a blossoming team for a recovering franchise.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Posted on: October 12, 2010 4:35 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 5:37 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Overpaid players

J. Delhomme is making more than $19 million this year. He's probably not worth it (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I saw a stunning stat on Twitter as the Browns mucked their way to a loss against the Falcons this past Sunday. It had to do with how much money QB Jake Delhomme is pulling in this year. Naturally, the number is ridiculous, as I’ll detail further in the below paragraphs.

But it gave me the idea for the newest edition of Top Ten With a Twist. Who are the most overpaid players in the game today? By overpaid, I mean the players who are either busts or has-beens or guys who simply found an owner who decided that spending tens of millions of dollars on a problem child was the way to go.

I’m not talking about rookies like Sam Bradford. Of course, the first-round NFL draft picks are overpaid, but at this point, I’m not including them on this list (it’d be an entirely new list altogether). Instead, I’m including guys like Delhomme – either guys who have been around the league for a while who are getting a good payday because they were good at one time, or guys who were supposed to be good but haven’t shown it.

Be forewarned: the salaries we’ll discuss might make you a little nauseous. So, pop a Dramamine or two and let’s go.

10. Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Before last season, you’ll recall, Manning signed a seven-year deal worth $106.9 million that pays him an average of about $15 million from 2009 through 2015, and that doesn’t include his endorsement deals. There’s little doubt that Manning is the most important player on the team, but is he really worth the money? I’m not saying Manning isn’t good, because he is a good quarterback. But he’s not an elite top-five kind of guy, and he’s making elite top-five kind of money. For what it’s worth, he currently makes more than his brother, Peyton (and his oldest brother, Cooper, for that matter).

9. Marvin Austin, DT, Tar Heels: OK, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves if we’re talking NFL. But look at the damage Austin – well, the recruitment of Austin – has done already and look how much money it’s cost the people around him. Austin apparently accepted gifts and other improper benefits from agents (the NCAA determined it was worth between $10,000-$13,000). As a result, Austin was kicked off the team Monday and UNC teammates Robert Quinn and Greg Little have been made permanently ineligible, the NCAA has brought up academic violations, coach Butch Davis might get fired, the Tar Heels football program has been set back in a major way, and the school in general has taken a hit to its reputation. That’s quite a bit of money Austin indirectly is costing everybody, and as one of my colleague says, “And he hasn’t even played yet!”

8. Joey Porter, LB, Cardinals: Blame the team in this case instead of the player. The team which gave a 33-year-old LB a three-year deal for $17.5 million which could max out at $24.5 million. Porter was coming off a pretty good season in Miami in 2009, where he recorded nine sacks in 14 games. This year, though, has been a rough one. He’s recorded 16 solo tackles, good for 10th on the team, and he’s only recorded one sack through the team’s first five games. No doubt that Porter has had a standout career, but there’s also little doubt that he’s not the player he once was. He’s still making good bank for it, though.

7. Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Perhaps if Jacobs had been signed as a discus hurler, his four-year, $25 million extension that he signed before last season would have made sense. Instead, Jacobs is solely a RB who’s gained 172 yards in the team’s first five games and who’s lost his starting position (for the record, in 2009, his attempts rose from the 2008 season, but his yards gained fell and his touchdowns dropped from 15 to five). Plus, you had the throwing-his-helmet-into-the-crowd incident at the Indianapolis game. The $15 million he was guaranteed doesn’t look so good now.

6. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders: We’re not discussing rookies in this list, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about second-year players (or players that are still in college, I suppose). For some reason, the Raiders took him with the seventh pick in the 2009 Draft, and then they blew up the slotting system by awarding him a five-year contract worth $38.25 million ($23.5 million guaranteed). He promptly went out and caught nine passes in 11 games. This year, he’s got 11 catches through five games, so that’s an improvement. Good thing the Raiders took Heyward-Bey instead of, say, Jeremy Maclin.

5. Tyson Jackson, DE, Chiefs: He was the third overall pick of the 2009 Draft, and while he wasn’t great last year – hell, he wasn’t even decent – he wasn’t the worst bust in the history of the Draft. It could be argued that he wasn’t nearly as bad as Glenn Dorsey, the Chiefs 2008 first-round pick who had tallied exactly two sacks in his first two years. But Dorsey is playing better this year, while Jackson – 38 tackles last year but zero sacks – has been out with a sprained MCL. At this point, he’s a big disappointment.

A. Smith still hasn't won a starting job with Cincinnati (Getty). 4. Andre Smith, OL, Bengals: The one thing I’ll always remember about Smith – aside from the whole running-the-40-shirtless-at-his-pro
-day-only-to-be-mocked-unmercifully
thing – is that after he signed his contract for $21 million on HBO’s Hard Knocks, his agent turned to him and said, “Congratulations. You’re a millionaire now.” Yep, that’s pretty much how he’s acted the past two years in Cincinnati. He’s been overweight, and his work ethic has been questioned. He only played in six games last season, starting one, and he still can’t be used as an every-play offensive lineman. Dennis Roland, who’s much less talented than Smith, has been starting ahead of him.

3. Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: One good year can get you a big contract, and for proof, look no further than Cassel. In 2008, he led the Patriots to a 11-5 record while completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. After New England QB Tom Brady returned, Cassel signed with the Chiefs for a six-year, $63 million deal with $28 million guaranteed. Not bad for a career backup in the NFL and in college at USC. This year, he’s completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 650 yards (about 162.5 yards per game), four TDs and three INTs. That’s not much production for a guy being paid a lot of money.

2. Albert Haynesworth, NT, Redskins: You thought I was going to put Haynesworth No. 1, didn’t you? While we’ve spent so much time on Haynesworth and the $100 million contract and the tens of millions of dollars of guaranteed money, he’s begun to play better lately (he sat out this past week, though, after the death of his brother). Surely, he’s not worth the money, but considering some thought he could have been released from the Washington squad at this point, the fact he’s still playing is sort of a win. Sort of. Still, it’s hard to overlook the fact he’s made six tackles and recorded exactly zero sacks this season.

1. Jake Delhomme, QB, Browns: Ah, the impetus for this column in the first place. Delhomme, between what the Browns and his former team, the Panthers, are paying him, is making $19.7 million this season. Doesn’t that number just absolutely blow you away? He started the first game of the season but was lost for three games with an ankle injury. Then, he backed up Seneca Wallace against the Falcons on Sunday, replaced him when he went out with an ankle injury and then reinjured his own ankle. He’s likely to be out for a while now. On the year, he’s 33 of 60 for 324 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Not real good. Not a real good return on Cleveland’s money either.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .


Posted on: September 13, 2010 6:54 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2010 7:08 pm
 

Chiefs v. Chargers: Monday Night Football Preview

Posted by Will Brinson



First things first -- I recorded a podcast preview for tonight's second game with Joel Thorman of ArrowheadPride.com and Kansas City SB Nation . Give it a listen now and go and Subscribe via iTunes to the award-winning* CBS Sports Football Podcast.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .

Now, onto what we'll be watching for in the second matchup:

1. Left Tackle Loss
Two of the biggest weapons for San Diego -- Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill -- will be absent Monday night. The latter is far more concerning, because the Bolts can't just plug-and-play a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, though. If Philip Rivers' blindside gets, um, blindsided against the Chiefs, it's only going to be tougher for San Diego to maintain their stance that McNeill should sign his (now lowered) tender.

2. Jack of All Trades
Dexter McCluster is primed for a big year. I'd be willing to bet not-so-hard-earned money on it. Even if he doesn't catch a ton of passes or rush the ball like crazy or lead the league in return yards, he'll do enough of everything in route to sparking the Chiefs' offense to draw rave reviews. That needs to start tonight, though.

3. Franchising
Matt Cassel had a monster year for the Patriots when Tom Brady went down, and then he got straight paid. Unfortunately, he hasn't done much to justify that pay day since -- a lot of people, myself included, think Charle Weis joining Cassel in KC can result in a big year. He gets to start justifying his contract tonight.

4. D-Line Redemption
The Chiefs (still) hope that Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey can become the anchors of a dominant defensive line. Jackson's time obviously isn't running as short as Dorsey's, but they'd still like to see a significant uptick in production for their 2009 investment. If both guys can produce, the Chiefs can really be dangerous.

5. Replacing LT
Ryan Mathews has some serious hype heading into 2010 -- there's no question that he can succeed at this level, but can he adequately replace LaDainian Tomlinson? No, not the 2009 LdT -- the one who became a Hall of Famer in San Diego.

*My mother said it was awesome.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com