The Kansas City Chiefs host the Green Bay Packers in the final preseason game for both teams Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. CT, but don’t get to your seat late or you may miss seeing anyone you recognize on the field for either team.
It doesn’t matter what team it is, the last preseason game of the season comes down to one thing: Don’t get anyone important hurt. Therefore, it’s doubtful you’ll see Aaron Rodgers take a snap at all for Green Bay, and Jamaal Charles might only get carries in Kansas City’s first series – if he gets that much.
Anyone who has read these articles for the last four years knows that I consider the NFL to be criminal in their insistence that fans pay full price for preseason games. Since you won't see stars on the field, you should be seeing red – and I don’t mean Chiefs Red.
The only bright spot is that sometime before the next collective bargaining agreement is hammered out, the NFL may drop the preseason down to two or three games and increase the regular season schedule. But both the owners and players like that money that comes with the four games and the players like not having to play much during them.
By the way, if you have 20 minutes or so and you’re upset about paying full price for preseason tickets, shoot a note to Commissioner Roger Goodell at the League Office:
National Football League
345 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10154
It won’t do any good because the owners will ride this Golden Goose until Armageddon, but it might make YOU feel better … for a few minutes ... until you pay full price for parking at Arrowhead on Thursday ... and the equivalent price of a tank of gas for concessions ... but I digress ….
Ok, enough of the soapbox. There are some questions about the Chiefs that still need to be answered even in the fourth preseason game. Here are some things you should watch for on Thursday:
OFFENSIVE LINE: The truth is, the starting O-line did not play bad against Pittsburgh considering how poor they looked the week before against the 49ers. Yes, there is NO DOUBT that the running game was non-existent outside of our quarterbacks scrambling for yardage, so don’t think I’m trying to sugarcoat it. But it WAS Pittsburgh they were playing, and the Steelers have been doing that to even the best running games for the last decade. This week, the Chiefs O-line needs to open some holes for the running backs and get a little balance restored to the offense. It wouldn’t hurt the Chiefs to play their starters through the first quarter at least because these are some very inexperienced players and they need all the snaps they can get before Jacksonville next week.
DEFENSE: Stop giving up so many big plays!!! The new scheme by defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton is more of an attacking defense and will be more susceptible to giving up big plays. However, so far this preseason, they are giving up way too many big plays to the opposition. Fortunately this week, nobody does big plays better than the Pack, so the coaches will get a good idea if the defense is getting any better at recognizing when they are about to become toast. Even without Rodgers at QB, the Packers will push the ball down field and try to strike deep. Chiefs cornerback, Vince Agnew, probably the most picked-on member of the secondary I’ve seen in a decade is gone now, a victim of the first cut last Tuesday. However, Jalil Brown, the other corner who has gotten a great view of the back of opposing wide receiver’s jerseys, is still around. Oh-oh ….
WHO WINS THE LAST IMPORTANT POSITION BATTLES? There is still some question about who the starting left middle linebacker will be next to All-Pro Derrick Johnson. Both Akeem Jordan and rookie Nico Johnson have played well at times, as well as both have made some mistakes. It’s too close to call right now, but Jordan might get a slight edge at the beginning of the season due to his seven years of experience. However, it wouldn’t be shocking in the era of the salary cap if the Chiefs go with the rookie.
At running back, Jamaal Charles is The King and Knile Davis is the heir apparent. However, given the recent injury history of both backs, the #3 running back spot is important. Like the battle at linebacker, both Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray have flashed some potential. In a perfect world, the Chiefs would probably like to keep both as they also play well on special teams, but part of being a good team is getting to the point where you end up cutting good players.
And finally, the injury bug keeps biting tight end Tony Moeaki in the butt (or actually, in the arm causing a fractured shoulder in the Steelers game), and it undoubtedly has the Chiefs front office looking for someone that can stay on the field as a #3 tight end. Anthony Fasano is the veteran presence, but he lacks the explosive offensive skill set that this edition of the Chiefs probably needs at tight end. Rookie Travis Kelce has the skills, but lacks the experience of playing in the NFL. They are locks to be the top two tight ends and will play a majority of snaps for KC.
That leaves youngsters Kevin Brock and Demetrius Harris to take Moeaki’s place on the roster. Brock has been running alongside Fasano with the first-team starters in the Chiefs 2-TE sets this week at practice, which is always a good sign that you might sneak past that final cut-down. But Harris is a former basketball player in college who is making a transition to tight end in football and we all know what happened the last time the Chiefs took a former basketball player to play tight end. Does the name Tony Gonzalez ring any bells???
Prediction: With the Pack being confident in their ability to win the tough NFC Central and just wanting to get the heck out of KC with all their players intact, there’s no reason to pick Green Bay to win this game. The Chiefs, on the other hand, are at home and going 2-2 in Andy Reid’s first preseason in KC is a nice step forward for the franchise. The stadium will undoubtedly be half-full on a school night, but the 45,000 or so that are there will be loud. Look for the Chiefs to pull off a 24-23 win and get a good vibe going for Jacksonville next week.
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