Chiefs must beat Giants to stay in the playoff hunt

By John Onan  |   Friday, December 16, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

Kansas City Chiefs
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The 8-5 Kansas City Chiefs will have to shake off a tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, as they head east to face another dangerous NFC East foe, the New York Giants, Saturday at the Meadowlands. The Chiefs find themselves tied for the final AFC playoff spot with San Diego and Pittsburgh after the 31-28 loss to Dallas, in a game they had plenty of chances to win.

The 9-4 Giants, who emerged victorious 26-23 in overtime at Philadelphia last weekend, thanks to the foot of kicker Jay Feely, who connected on all four of his field goal attempts after missing three kicks in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks, a game they would end up losing in overtime.

Since taking over for injured starting running back Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson has played like a man possessed, rushing for over 100 yards in six straight games. On the year, he has 1251 yards on 247 carries with 14 touchdowns. He also scored three times last Sunday against the Cowboys, and the Chiefs as a team are ranked fourth overall in the league in rushing.

But don't expect the Giants defense to be able to plan solely for Johnson, as Kansas City also ranks sixth in passing, and no. 1 in overall offensive yards, thanks to an equally dangerous air attack led by quarterback Trent Green.

Green is currently connecting on 63 % of his throws for 3287 yards and 14 touchdowns, while being picked off just nine times. After being forced to be mostly a blocker early in the year, tight end Tony Gonzalez has once again emerged as the top pass catcher for the Chiefs with 64.

The assignment of slowing down the Kansas City balanced offense becomes even more difficult for New York,, as they will be without their top defender, linebacker Antonio Pierce, who is nursing a high ankle sprain and could miss the rest of the regular season.

Giants signal-caller Eli Manning enters Saturday's action as the NFC leader in touchdowns throw with 21, but has also tossed 15 interceptions, including three against the Eagles this past Sunday. The top pick in the 2004 NFL Draft is completing nearly 53 % of his passes for 3128 yards on the season.

New York, like their opponent of Saturday, also possesses a well-balanced offense, and the running game is led by Tiki Barber. The ninth-year veteran out of Virginia has gained 1357 yards on 284 yards with six touchdowns, and has went over the 100-yard mark in his last four outings, three of which have resulted in victories.

Both defenses have been stout against the run this season, but have given up big plays through the air. But with Johnson and Barber expected to see plenty of carries, both stop units will be in for possibly their stiffest tests thus far.
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