On paper, the New York Giants are entering the most challenging part of their 2021 regular-season schedule starting this week when they visit the Kansas City Chiefs for a Monday Night matchup down in Arrowhead Stadium.
But the defending AFC Champions have had a rough time of things of late, posting a 3-4 record and not resembling the powerhouse team they've been the last couple of years.
Can the Giants pull off the mother of all upsets against the Chiefs in prime time, a time slot, which by the way, the Giants don't perform very well in? Arrowhead Report team publisher Joshua Brisco offers insight into the Chiefs' struggles and where they might be beatable.
How has the revamped offensive line looked?
It's been solid but not overwhelming so far. Left guard Joe Thuney is playing through a broken hand, and veteran Mike Remmers has taken the right tackle job from first-year player Lucas Niang, who started the season there. Between a combination of some speed on the edges and some not-so-great pocket maneuvering from Patrick Mahomes against the Titans last week, the OL and Mahomes had their worst combined game of the year.
Patrick Mahomes has had a few uncharacteristic turnovers this year. I know several are a result of balls bouncing off receivers' hands, but with that said, has he looked more uncomfortable this year to you?
"Uncomfortable" is a great word to use there. Mahomes hasn't looked entirely at home behind the aforementioned o-line, and there have been long stretches of games where Mahomes and the wide receivers haven't seemed to be entirely on the same page.
Mahomes acknowledged after the Titans game that he has been "pressing" a bit, presumably trying to make up for the defensive woes with offensive fireworks. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, that's primarily led to more turnovers, only exacerbating their biggest problems.
This is a broad question, but what is going on with the defense?
There are a lot of issues. The widest-ranging problem is that they're not particularly good at any unit anywhere on the defensive side, even though they're the second-most-expensive defense in the NFL this year.
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The Chiefs invested heavily in their deeply underperforming defensive line, where Frank Clark and his $25.8 million cap hit has been a total non-factor, along with free-agent addition Jarran Reed. Their best defensive lineman, Chris Jones, has spent most of this season at defensive end after rising to dominance at defensive tackle. He hasn't been nearly as impactful at his new spot.
Despite also having an additional second- and third-round pick on the interior, the pass rush has been more of a concept than an actual observable factor. The defense has been bad across the board, but if the defensive line lived up to their price tags, the entire unit wouldn't look quite as historically awful.
The Chiefs are coming off an embarrassing loss last week. From what you can tell, how are they responding, and are they in desperation mode right now?
They should have been in desperation mode after losing to the Bills, but they had many of the same problems in the first half against Washington the following week.
They supposedly reentered desperation mode again at halftime against Washington, then won that game convincingly before being trounced by Tennessee last week. I'm sure they're focused and desperate, but unless the defense improves and the turnovers stop, they'll still have work to do.
What do you consider the X-factor in this game, the one thing no one is talking about but should be?
The defense has been gashed by screens and passes into the flats, as well as by athletic quarterbacks in get-off-the-field moments — all things the Giants should be able to exploit.
As an underrated storyline, can the Chiefs solve any of those problems and force the Giants to punt (or go for it on fourth down!) on third down? The more obvious x-factor for the Chiefs is all about their plague of turnovers and if Mahomes returns to his peak form.
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