Between these two teams we have a 0-4 record. Certainly the more surprising of the two is the New Orleans Saints. Coming into this season there were questions surrounding this Saints club, the Bounty violations that splattered across the headlines everyday in the offseason has undeniably had an impact on them. But even then, there were still fans and pundits that gave the Saints a shot at making it to the Super Bowl in New Orleans even with this dark cloud hovering over their heads. From speaking to fans, I suppose the recurring theme has been that they are going to come out with a vengeance due to this adversity. The suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith were lifted, but Vilma has been placed on the PUP list and the defense is severely sputtering. Scoring 30 points a game may not be enough for this team with the way the defense has performed the last two weeks. Betting plenty of Saints over bets is sure to make plenty of cash this season.
It seems as if every year the Chiefs enter the season with high expectations. Fans and pundits always talk of how this is the year the Chiefs are finally going to breakout and compete for a playoff position. Needless to say this hasn’t come to fruition, and it looks like 2012 may be another long year in Kansas City. On paper the Chiefs don’t look all that bad, the defense has playmakers abound, and looks to have a potent rushing attack with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis. Much of the Chiefs problems can be accredited to injuries, primarily on the defensive side of the ball. It was no different to start 2012, as the Chiefs played without key personnel against the Atlanta Falcons, including standout corner Brandon Flowers and pass rusher Tamba Hali. In week 3 the defense appears to be getting much healthier, so expect Flowers and Hali to suit up, but the Chiefs still haven’t averted the injury bug completely. In fact, the team was supposed to have a full practice with pads on Wednesday, but that was scrapped due to the amount of injuries. The most notable injury being offensive lineman Ryan Lilja, not that Lilja is a perennial pro-bowler, but if Lilja can’t play, rookie Jeff Allen out of Illinois will be getting his first NFL start in the Super Dome. The Chiefs will need a much better performance from the line after giving up five sacks against the Bills. The running game against the Bills looked promising, compiling 150 yards on 24 carries even with Charles on the sidelines for most of the game, but the majority of that was from the second game when the game was out of reach. The Chiefs trailed the Bills 21-0 at the half, which snowballed to a 35-3 lead in the 3rd quarter. Matt Cassel threw two 4th quarter touchdowns to Dwayne Bowe to make the final score a little more respectable, 35-17. Charles reinjured his surgically repaired knee last week, but is listed as probable for week 3 and should be fine to start. It is something to take into consideration for during the game, though. The Chiefs will need Charles at full speed if they expect to do anything this week, even against a below average Saints’ defense.
If you were to look at the Chiefs statistically it looks mighty impressive, 407 yards a game for 5th best in the NFL. The problem is that they were trailing big against the Falcons and Bills. A lot of that yardage gets a boost from garbage yards in the remaining minutes of a blowout. The defense on the other hand can’t hide, they are bad in the box score and on the field. The Chiefs surrendered 35 points last week and 42 against the Falcons in week 1. It is important to note that the Bills all but packed it in after they took the 35-3 lead. So, they were not far off from allowing 40 points in consecutive weeks, which averages out to 37.5 points allowed per game (31st). Things shouldn’t get much easier in front of an upset Saints team.
As I pointed out earlier, this is an offense that can score 30 points week in and week out. Drew Brees has a host of options around him with Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, and of course one of the best tight ends in the NFL today, Jimmy Graham. The Saints’ offense is statistically ranked 3rd best in the league, with 422 yards per game and 29.5 points a game. Brees is already at 664 passing yards for the year. While I think the Chiefs ranking is a little skewed, the Saints are right where they should be, and probably where they will be at the end of the year. It’s no secret then why the Saints are 0-2, the defense. The Saints and Chiefs’ defense are identical in terms of points allowed at 75 points in total. I think the Saints’ defense is still in shock mode over this offseason and in a little disarray without Sean Payton’s guidance. It would also help if Jonathan Vilma wasn’t on the PUP list. The Chiefs strength on offense is the running game, and the Saints weakness is stopping the run, giving up an average of 186 yards on the ground for dead last in the NFL. A big chunk of those numbers coming last week by Panthers’ Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart. The Chiefs are going to feed the ball to Charles all day long in this one.
Chiefs vs. Saints Spread and Betting Odds:
Kansas City Chiefs +9 (-115)
@ New Orleans Saints (-105)
Under 53 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Chiefs vs. Saints Pick:
I think this game will go a long way in telling how the rest of the season is going to shape up for the loser. If the Saints lose to the Chiefs at home and fall to 0-3, all hope will completely be lost in the 2012 season. If the Chiefs get blown out again, I’m sure whispers of them being the worst team in the league will start to blossom in Kansas City. Do I think the Chiefs are as bad as their record indicates? Yes. Are the Saints? Well for the most part, no. There is no doubt that the Saints miss their head coach, Sean Payton, dearly. And the defense just seems to be going through the motion as if this is a throwaway season given the nature of this offseason.
I think this Saints’ defense is beginning to hear the rumblings in the press about how putrid they are. Even with the offseason distractions, it is unacceptable for this unit to allow 75 points in just two weeks. What I think they need is some rejuvenation from the Saints faithful in the Super Dome. While the Chiefs rank in the top-5 offensively, I don’t feel like this offense is good as advertised. In both games they were getting hammered, playing late in games against defenses that weren’t exactly playing at full speed. In fact, the Chiefs didn’t even have a single point going into the second half and only hit 17 with just over a minute remaining in the game. The Saints’ defense will look much better this week against a below average, dinged up offensive line, and the offense will do their usual weekly act en route to covering the 9 points at home.
PICK = Saints -9