The New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs both seem unable to get out of their own ways, although the Chiefs began the 2017 season with much higher expectations.
The Jets are a walking fourth-quarter nightmare, while the Chiefs have apparently been asleep since mid-October. Kansas City has lost five out of six since starting the season 5-0, while the Jets have fallen into an identical rut after starting the year 3-2.
Something has to give Sunday at MetLife Stadium between two AFC foes who seem to be unraveling as December begins.
The Chiefs have already taken a trip to East Rutherford, N.J., this season and it wasn’t pretty. Kansas City looked awful in a 12-9 overtime loss to the hapless Giants two weeks ago.
Alex Smith has gone from MVP candidate to, well, Alex Smith. He hasn’t thrown for more than 300 yards in four weeks after posting three 300-yard outings through the first seven weeks. Smith has fallen back into his old, conservative self. Kansas City’s offense has suffered and has scored only 36 points in the last three contests.
Perhaps more important than Smith’s regression is the fact that teams have figured out how to stop breakout, rookie tailback Kareem Hunt. The Toledo product racked up 609 rushing yards through his first five professional games, but has only 281 yards in his last six performances. New York’s run defense has been tumultuous and enters Week 13 ranked 26th against the run. It wouldn’t be surprising if Hunt found a few running lanes and converted them into big plays Sunday.
Speaking of big plays, the Jets will have their hands full containing gamebreaking receiver Tyreek Hill. The spry receiver is limited by Smith’s conservatism, but he can make touchdowns occur out of thin air. Hill has 54 receptions for 726 yards and four touchdowns on the season. New York’s secondary will have to keep tabs on him at all times. Tight end Travis Kelce also could give New York fits. Kelce is on pace for a career-high in touchdowns to go with his 62 receptions for 777 yards.
Kansas City’s defense isn’t nearly as formidable as it’s been in past seasons. The Chiefs rank 27th in total defense, allowing an average of 372.5 total yards. For comparison’s sake, the Jets allow 342.5 yards per game. Stars such as Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are still threats, but they’re exiting their primes. The loss of safety Eric Berry has drastically hurt a secondary that lacks much talent outside of cornerback Marcus Peters.
And that’s where the biggest storyline of this game comes into play. Former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was signed by Kansas City last week after spending the entire 2017 season without a team. Revis claims he has nothing to prove to the Jets, which is true, but he’ll be surely looking to make a statement in his first game back against his former team.
While the Chiefs have only 14 takeaways on the season, they also don’t offer many opportunities for turnovers. Kansas City’s eight turnovers are the second-fewest in the league, so the Jets might have to earn points the hard way.
If you took a look at this matchup in October, you would say the Chiefs would win in a rout. Now, this matchup represents another winnable opportunity for Gang Green. If they can keep Josh McCown intact and pick on Revis or whoever else is opposite Peters, they’ll have a chance.
On the other hand, it’s tough to trust the Jets to play a full game at this point. New York’s season has been epitomized by fourth-quarter collapses, so it’s fair to be skeptical until the clock reads zero. The Jets will hope Kansas City’s struggles at MetLife were a trend and not a blip on the radar.