PREVIEW: CHIEFS (5-7) @ NY JETS (7-5)

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Looking at this game on paper, you’d be surprised that, to the Jets, this is a playoff game. After all, the Kansas City Chiefs are two games below .500 and without three of their most talented players in QB Matt Cassel, RB Jamaal Charles and S Eric Berry. But as the NFL season draws closer and closer to January, the Jets find themselves in a familiar position: with their backs against the wall, scratching their way to a playoff berth.

The key to a Jets victory on Sunday will be stopping the dynamic Chiefs defense, lead by All-Pro defensive end Tamba Hali — whom was on the mind of all the offensive players of the Jets this week. Despite losing their two cornerstones of their offense, the Chiefs defense has been playing admirably — with their national stage performance two Sunday nights ago against a potent Pittsburgh Steelers aerial attack.

WHEN: Sunday December 11, 2011 @ 1 p.m. EST (Can be seen on CBS or heard on 1050 ESPN Radio).

WHERE: East Rutherford, NJ / MetLife Stadium (capacity:82,500).

SERIES HISTORY: 34th meeting, tied 16-16-1.

LAST MEETING: Jets 28 — Chiefs 24, The Meadowlands on 10/26/08.

NOTABLE: Sunday’s contest will be the fifth time in the last six games between the two franchises that will be hosted by the Jets. New York has won three of the previous four home contests. The Jets earned the most recent victory in the series when QB Brett Favre found WR Laveranues Coles from 15 yards out with 1:00 in the game.

Shonn Greene (above) has to have another big day if the Jets offense hopes to have success against a tough Chiefs defense. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

STATISTICS:

  • CHIEFS –  OFFENSE: 299.8 TOTAL YPG (27th), 13.6 PPG (30th), 179.2 PASSING YPG (30th), 120.7 RUSH YPG (9th), 38.5 3rd DOWN % (14), 28 SACKS ALLOWED (18th-T). DEFENSE: 344.2 TOTAL YPG (16th), 22.3 PPG (18th), 213.8 PASS YPG (12th), 130.3 RUSH YPG (25th), 34.8 3rd DOWN % (8th), 20 SACKS (29th).
  • JETS — OFFENSE: 310.8 TOTAL YPG (26th), 24.2 PPG (8th-T), 210.3 PASS YPG (20th), 100.4 RUSH YPG (24th), 37.8 3rd DOWN % (16th), 26 SACKS ALLOWED (16th). DEFENSE: 317.5 TOTAL YPG (7th), 21.7 PPG (16th), 204.6 PASS YPG (7th), 112.9 RUSH YPG (15th), 31.45 3rd DOWN % (3rd), 24 SACKS (20th-T).

HEAD COACHES:

  • CHIEFS — Todd Haley / third season with Chiefs / 19-25 Regular Season / 0-1 Postseason
  • JETS — Rex Ryan / third season with Jets / 26-17 / 4-2 Postseason

INJURY REPORT:

  • CHIEFSDOUBTFUL — Kyle Orton (right finger). QUESTIONABLE — Jovan Belcher (shoulder), Demorrio Williams (groin). PROBABLE — Wallace Gilberry (chest), Casey Wiegmann (finger).
  • JETSDOUBTFUL — Mike DeVito (knee). QUESTIONABLE — Marcus Dixon (hip), Joe McKnight (right elbow), Brandon Moore (hip). PROBABLE — Vlad Ducasse (knee), Shonn Greene (rib), David Harris (ankle), Jeremy Kerley (knee), Eric Lankster (low back), Nick Mangold (ankle), Calvin Pace (groin), Tanner Purdum (low back), Matt Slauson (knee), Eric Smith (knee), LaDanian Tomlinson (knee), Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Jets O-Line vs. LB Tamba Hali – He just won’t be the concern of D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel uses Hali all over the field, forcing the offense to always be on the look out for number 91. He brings a variety of moves in his pursuit of the quarterback, starting out as a strongside defensive end before Haley and Crennel converted him to an upright 3-4 linebacker. With 41.5 career sacks, 15 of them coming last season, Hali has to be public enemy number one for offensive line coach Bill Callahan.
  • Mark Sanchez vs. Chiefs Corners — Sanchez feels like he knows this Chiefs defense. “They get after the ball carrier whether it’s the quarterback, receiver or running back. They have a great pass rush and their secondary is good enough to hold up until they get to the quarterback, so we really have to run on the perimeter, get open down-field and our running game has to be strong again.” But with Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr, they combine for arguably the best cornerback duo the Jets have faced this year. If they Jets don’t want the Chiefs to clip their wings, it will be imperative for Sanchez to play a smart, controlled game against this secondary and aggressive pass rush.

X FACTORS:

  • Shonn Greene, RB, Jets — It will be because of the offense if the Jets win on Sunday, as the Chiefs offense is rather JV with Tyler Palko at the helm. December is ground and pound time and Greene seems primed to carry the offense on his back. Sanchez said it himself, he needs another great game from his running backs if the offense is going to be effective against this well-rounded Chiefs defense.
  • Dexter McCluster, WR/RB, Chiefs — He’s versatile and can beat you in a blink of an eye in so many ways. Whether running the ball or receiving his speed is a threat, and can be exploited against a thin Jets secondary. On special teams McCluster has the speed and talent to be a threat on every return. If the game is close he could be the difference maker and it only takes one play.

THE PREDICTION: Chiefs 13 — NY Jets 24. The Chiefs defense will give the Jets a tough time, but it will be a score from the defense or special teams that decides this game. The Jets know how to protect their home, where they are 4-1 this year.

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