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Preseason Game # 4 (3): Saints vs. Chiefs

Part I: Insert Witty Headline Here

The third preseason game is traditionally the longest game for the starters, so today -- being the Saints' fourth game -- will be a bit of an abnormality, since it's really serving the purpose of the fourth. The Saints have shown a steady progression from week-to-week, and should be able to dictate the pace of the game to the Chiefs. Expect most of the starters to play into the third quarter, with Drew Brees being one exception. Brees will probably only play into the second quarter, to give Jamie Martin some snaps with the first-string offense. Interestingly, there has been no announcement about who will relieve Martin. Sean Payton kept his hand a secret:

I'll probably, by and large, try to stick with a half (for regulars) and a half (reserves) in this game [...] Try to get into the third quarter with the starters. I probably won't stay to that rotation with a couple of players, probably Brees, probably into the second quarter to get Jamie Martin some work, and we'll see where we're at with the third quarterback if we get to one. (Times Picayune)

The game could provide an insight into the battle for the third quarterback. Or not. Expect several two-to-five-yard completions from Martin. People who won't see the field include: Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Brian Young and Jason David.

Part II: Will Kansas City Play to Win Tonight?

Chris, who runs the fine Chiefs blog Arrowhead Pride, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the 2007 Chiefs that Hard Knocks hasn't covered yet. He also likes to live-blog games. Be sure to check out my answers to his questions on his site. While you're there, feel free to talk some 4th preseason game, and to remind Kansas City fans that Jorge Orta was clearly out (yeah, still bitter).

What is the most worrisome question for the Chiefs' offense as they enter the season, and how do you see the unit performing in 2007? For the LSU fans who may read this, what are your impressions of Dwayne Bowe?

The most worrisome position on the Chiefs for me is the same as the majority of Arrowhead Pride's readers- the offensive line. With the loss of Willie Roaf and Will Shields over the last two years, the Chiefs have seen a once dominant offensive line filled with pretty average players. Our biggest free agent signing, left tackle Damion McIntosh from the Miami Dolphins, went down with a knee sprain (its actually worse than that but more complicated) a couple of weeks ago. He rather quickly returned to light conditioning just this past week but his status for the opener is in question. Hopefully McIntosh is back as soon as possible because he is the standout on what, in my opinion, will be an average offensive line at best.

Dwyane Bowe held out until August 5th and has only seen brief action in the preseason. I can tell you that Kansas City fans are very excited about Bowe but we just haven't seen much of him to date. He will be playing quite a bit against the Saints though.

It seems like in recent years, the Chiefs were held back by their lack of a defense. After placing in the top half of the league in both yardage and points allowed last season, are the Chiefs' defensive struggles things of the past? Is Derrick Johnson primed for a monster season?

The Chiefs 2007 defense has a chance to hover around being a top 10 defense in this league. One of the main factors in this transformation has been our draft picks since Herm Edwards arrived. DE Tamba Hali and Safeties Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page are three examples of guys just drafted on defense that are now starting for the Kansas City Chiefs. We also added LB Napoleon Harris from Minnesota and LB Donnie Edwards from San Diego. This could be Derrick Johnson's "breakout" year. He will get the opportunity to learn from two really good linebackers, who have already shown a willingness to teach Johnson.

Your obligatory Priest Holmes questions: If, for whatever reason, Larry Johnson is absent, can Priest be a successful featured back in the NFL again? Or is this a bit of a farewell tour, like Jerome Bettis and Marshall Faulk received in their final seasons?

The Priest Holmes story is interesting because those who do not follow the Chiefs have been assuming that Priest Holmes has the chance to step in be the 2003 Priest Holmes. Priest had not worked out in nearly two years until just a few weeks ago. There is a lot of speculation going on in KC about Priest's motivation for coming back- money and  pressuring Larry Johnson into ending his holdout are the two main ones. Priest Holmes is one weird guy when it comes down to it so I'm not really sure of his motivation. If he does make this team which I think is unlikely, it will be in a 10-12 touch capacity, not a featured RB capacity.

Part III: That Challenge Thingy

Football cards -- just for kids (unless they're really cool).
Please get your Saints Soothsayer Gameday Challenge predictions in before kickoff. Since I was the only person to score a point last week, and since I don't count my points (because, you know, I can't win something that I already own), everybody is starting anew. The prize pack has grown. I was able to secure a rare Michael Lewis trading card (pictured) that will also be included in the prize pack, along with the framed photo of Tom Benson and some other fabulous SWAG. The card is a 2003 Topps Pro Bowl Card, and features a swath of Lewis' actual jersey (it's one of those cards). You know you want this card, so get your predictions in before kickoff. Please note: the categories have changed subtly, but significantly.

Category 1: Predict the Saints' score. Closest to the actual score wins, regardless of whether they were over/under; ties are allowed. An example would be 24.

Category 2: Select a team MVP. After each game, 3 MVPs will be selected, to emphasize the ridiculousness of selecting a single MVP in a team sport. Everybody who selects one of these MVPs will be awarded a point. You will only be awarded points for one selection. An example would be Will Smith.

Category 3: Wildcard. This category hasn't changed. It is your opportunity to rack up several points with a prediction. An example would be predicting that Will Smith will get a sack that forces a fumble in the first quarter, and get four points for predicting the player (Smith), the action (sack), the consequence (fumble) and the time (1st quarter).

Remember, this is a cumulative competition. It's also designed o be fun for everybody. Even if you don't get started until midseason, you still have the opportunity to win the contest with some hyper-accurate soothsaying. At the end of the Saints' season, the winner will receive the afore mentioned prize pack. Good Luck.