Head coach Todd Bowles has talked about his respect for Chiefs chief Andy Reid, most recently before last year's third game at Kansas City. But this year Bowles gets to welcome his former boss on the Eagles to his home, show him some Jersey hospitality, and hopefully send him back west with another loss.
The Jets and Chiefs are in similar funks. Both teams have lost five of their last six games. The difference is that KC still sits (precariously) atop the AFC West at 6-5 while the Jets are trying to right their 4-7 ship in their next-to-last game at MetLife Stadium this season.
Reid was the toast of the NFL after his team's 5-0 start but lately he's being roasted for the recent free fall. Bowles prepared his players this week for the good Chiefs, not the bad.
"We expect to get the best Kansas City team," Bowles said. "They started off fast and we don't know the reasons why they won or why they lost. We just know they're dangerous and they're a very good football team coming in here and that's what we have to play for."
Here are seven points to consider ahead of Sunday's 1 p.m. ET kickoff:
1. Home Sweet HomeThe Jets trail in the series 19-18-1 but have historically done OK vs. KC at home. They posted the franchise's first shutout, 17-0, at the Polo Grounds in 1963. They got some postseason payback for the 13-6 AFL playoff loss in 1969 with the 35-15 wild card win in '86. The only game between the teams at MetLife, in '11, produced the Jets' largest victory margin in the rivalry, 37-10. One more good Green & White omen: The Chiefs have lost their last five in the Meadowlands — three to the Jets, two to the Giants, including 12-9 in OT two weeks ago.
Photos Capturing the Rivalry Back to the AFL
2. More RobbyWR Robby Anderson may not have to do his own Pro Bowl campaigning. His play and his coaches are doing it for him. OC John Morton said, "Robby's pretty special, the way he can go get it. He's got another gear to go get that ball." He went and got 33- and 54-yard touchdowns vs. the Panthers, becoming the first Jet with two 30-yard TD receptions in a home game since Wesley Walker's monster 1986 game vs. Miami. And one more score vs. the Chiefs will tie Anderson for the second-longest TD-receptions streak in franchise history at six games in a row.
3. Island MemoriesJosh McCown to Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, who also had a big day vs. Carolina, will get to work in this game against a familiar face for the Green & White faithful. Darrelle Revis is back at MetLife after signing with KC last week. Will he start opposite Marcus Peters for the Chiefs? At the moment he's listed as the backup behind third-year CB Steve Nelson. No. 24 can only help the struggling, banged-up Chiefs defense, which is 29th in overall yards allowed, 25th vs. the run, 28th vs. the pass and 30th in first downs allowed.
4. Which Smith?Like Reid and the Chiefs in general, Alex Smith has gone from hero to zero for many Chiefs supporters. He still has many good numbers — his 68.8% accuracy and 104.5 rating are both second among the NFL's quarterbacks and he's thrown only four INTs. But in the past month and a half the Chiefs offense has slipped from third to ninth and the passing offense from fifth to 13th. And Smith's TD drive rate, at a robust 32% in the 5-0 start, has been under 12% the last six weeks. The Jets defense will seek to continue Smith's and his offense's slumber.
5. Protect JoshMcCown has done well in many areas but one problem, with (lack of) help from his blockers, is staying upright. Sacks have come in bulk, such as the Bucs' six takedowns, or with dire consequences, such as Sunday's strip-sack TD by Luke Kuechly after DE Wes Horton came in unblocked off the Jets' right side. The Jets are 30th in sacks allowed/pass play and the Chiefs still have LB Justin Houston, tied for seventh in the NFL with 8.5 sacks. "You have to account for him at all times," said McCown. "He's a heck of a player."
6. Sit TightLB Darron Lee and rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye have another big TE task in Travis Kelce, who leads all KC receivers and all NFL tight ends with 62 catches and 777 yards. Kelce also has five touchdowns this year and 19 for his career, two of which came in his two previous meetings vs. the Jets in '14 and last season. If the Jets D isn't careful, the Chiefs may even try to perfect Kelce's passing game in North Jersey. He threw an interception on his first pro pass two weeks ago vs. the Giants.
7. Finishing the JobLee's observation on Panthers loss — "We played three quarters, but it's a four-quarter game" — has been an issue that Bowles and his players have been trying to solve all year. Two measures of the problem: The Jets are plus-34 in point margin through their first three quarters, but their minus-66 in the fourth quarter is the fourth-lowest by any NFL team in any quarter. And they have a plus-8 turnover margin in the first 45 minutes, minus-8 in the last 15 minutes. "It's a mindset," Morton barked, for his offense but also for his team. "Let's finish the game."