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Preseason Analysis: Packers at Chiefs

Is Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs the smallest guy in the NFL?
Is Dexter McCluster #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs the smallest guy in the NFL?

Great googly moogly! It's the Green Bay Packers final preseason game in Kansas City against the Chiefs.

The starters shouldn't play more than one or two series at the start of the game. It's really a chance for the guys on the bubble to prove they belong, and force the Packers to decide that whether they really need to keep them on the active roster. And the punting battle between P Chris Bryan and P Tim Masthay will finally be decided. 

I traded emails with Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. My answers to his questions were posted yesterday and focused on the run defense and on the development of QB Aaron Rodgers and LT Bryan Bulaga. Below are his answers to my questions:

Brandon: Head coach Todd Haley recently stated that the Chiefs don't have enough depth anywhere. I'd expect to see mostly the Chiefs second string players, and other guys battling for a roster spot, on Thursday night. Do you think the backups will play fine or is the bench really that bad?

Joel: Todd Haley wasn't just going with coach-speak -- the Chiefs really don't have enough depth anywhere. Running back is one of the positions I think other teams would look at the roster and say the Chiefs are deep. The starters will play on Thursday night for less than a full quarter, at least that's my guess. The backups are what you think they are on a bad team like the Chiefs. Lots of undrafted free agents, cheap players and guys other teams didn't want.  That said, despite lacking talent they seem to control the things they can -- being in shape, knowing the playbook -- which is a plus.

Brandon: Who are a couple players we might want to keep an eye out for on Thursday night?

Joel: I'll give you a no-name and a rookie. 

Keep an eye on WR Jeremy Horne. He's your classic over-achiever undrafted free agent. The guy just seems to be in the right place at the right team often and he really busts his tail. He's a rookie so he's playing special teams and receiver. He was involved in nearly every special teams play last week so you'll see No. 8 flying around a lot.

I'm not sure how much the Chiefs will play him but you'll enjoy watching Dexter McCluster touch the ball. He's among the quickest players in the league and has been putting on a show in practice during training camp and preseason. We'll see how he does over a 16-game schedule but during practice-like settings like training and these preseason games he'll probably be the most-fun-to-watch player on the field. 

Brandon: I haven't followed the Chiefs this year, and I'm not sure how they stack up compared to the non-Chargers part of the AFC West. What are your general expectations for this season?

Joel: I think the majority of folks are predicting 7-9 wins for the Chiefs this season. They've made significant improvement in some areas (particularly the coaching staff) so fans are expecting them to win some games this year. Is this a playoff year? No, I don't think so. But I think most fans want to see the organization competitive in December, which means 6, 7 or 8 wins. Somewhere in that range.

The Chargers, in my opinion, have been knocked down a perch (or two) in the AFC West. The Vincent Jackson/Marcus McNeill situations could haunt them so, with them being down a little, it's giving the Chiefs the opportunity to stake their claim. ESPN The Magazine recently picked the Chiefs over the Chargers in the West so Kansas City fans aren't the only ones who think a .500 or better season is possible.