BY Doug Farrar 07:52AM 11/28/2010

Numbers Crunched: Chiefs bring thunder

The Chiefs have a run-heavy offense with a few surprises

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has to come up with a plan Sunday to thwart the NFL's premier rushing attack / Rod Mar, Seahawks

There’s a lot to watch for in this battle of two improbable division leaders. The Chiefs come to Qwest Field with the NFL’s most effective rushing attack, led by the tandem of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. Jones is a very good power back, but Charles is the one to watch.

Charles in Charge

Through Week 11, Charles ranks second in the AFC in yards from scrimmage behind Houston’s Arian Foster with 1,204. He’s 152 yards away from 1,000 on the ground, and he’s a threat out of the backfield with 30 receptions for 356 yards. That 11.9 per-catch average indicated Charles’ ability to get upfield after contact (343 yards after catch), and his 57 total first downs ranks fifth in the league.

The First Will Be First

If you want to get to Charles, the best way is to hope that he doesn’t get going early – he’s one of the NFL’s best rushers on first down and in the first quarter. He ranks fourth in the league in percentage of carries on first down (.295; 41 carries for 139 yards), and he’s averaged 8.3 yards per carry in the first quarter (26 for 217 yards and two touchdowns).

Alone & Easy Target

Just because the Chiefs have a great running game, don’t assume they’re impaired in the aerial game – receiver Dwayne Bowe is a devastating scoring threat in particular, with 11 touchdowns in just 45 catches. Perhaps Bowe’s most impressive stat is his performance on third down this season – 14 catches for 227 yards and four touchdowns.

Rookie tight end Tony Moeaki is also rolling – he’s got 31 catches in 46 targets for 378 yards. The problem that plagues the current Chiefs team is the lack of a secondary receiver target.While head coach Todd Haley and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis mask that liability with different types of targets, Seattle can roll its coverage to Bowe and deal with tight ends and running backs underneath. Chris Chambers is the team’s second-most productive wide receiver with just 13 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Crunch-Time Cassel

Quarterback Matt Cassel is the key to the Chiefs’ +5 turnover ratio – he’s thrown just four picks to his 18 touchdowns, and he’s got 14 scores to just one pick in the span of the last six weeks. This is a new phenomenon for the third-year NFL starter; Cassel threw 16 touchdowns and 16 picks in 2009, and a 21/11 plus-minus when he took over for Tom Brady and helped the Patriots to an 11-5 record without their future Hall of Fame quarterback.

However, Cassel is vulnerable in one aspect – his 59.5 completion percentage is the sixth-worst in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 200 passing attempts. That does speak to a boom-and-bust offense, though it also says that Cassel’s learned what a lot of young quarterbacks don’t – that an incompletion is better than an interception.


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