Chiefs vs. Steelers: Jamaal Charles Is Key to Kansas City Upset

William SmithCorrespondent INovember 12, 2012

Charles is the only hope for the 1-7 Chiefs on MNF.
Charles is the only hope for the 1-7 Chiefs on MNF.Peter Aiken/Getty Images

If Jamaal Charles is heavily involved in the Chiefs offense on Monday Night Football, the Chiefs have a small chance of pulling off a huge upset.

However, if the Chiefs do anything short of riding Charles, they will suffer another lopsided defeat.

Kansas City comes into the game with a league-high 29 turnovers (14 interceptions, 15 fumbles) in its first eight games and has been crushed in all but two games—a 27-24 overtime win at New Orleans and a 9-6 loss to Baltimore.

In those two contests, Charles touched the ball a whopping 72 times, racking up 449 yards and a touchdown in the process.

However, the explosive back has had over 20 touches in only one of Kansas City's other six games—all blowout losses.

He only received five carries in a Week 8 loss to Oakland, a game in which head coach Romeo Crennel couldn't explain how that happened.

The Chiefs have many problems, including a defense that allows 30 points per game

On the offensive side of the ball, it starts with their lack of commitment to Charles.

Charles tore his ACL early in the 2011 season, and it is understandable that the Chiefs want to be cautious with him, but he did not suffer any setbacks following those heavy workloads.

He has been banged up at other points this season, but the Chiefs coaching staff has to understand that they must ride Charles against a stout Pittsburgh defense that is surrendering the fewest yards per game (262.6) in the NFL

The Steelers will once again be without Troy Polamalu due to injury. If Charles can sneak out of the backfield and catch some balls in the middle of the field, he could split the safeties for big gains. Also, if Charles takes a handoff and gets past the first level of defenders, he has home-run potential that nobody else in this matchup has.

Early in Charles' career, he could make the most of limited touches by ripping off a big run or two. 

Now, he needs a high volume of touches to increase his potential of doing that. The Chiefs must feed him the ball early and often. 

Matt Cassel has a very limited upside and the potential to throw multiple interceptions against the Steelers defense. The Chiefs would be best served giving their most talented player 25 to 35 touches in this game.

If Charles gets involved often, it will make life easier on Cassel and set up play-action passes to star wideout Dwayne Bowe and the rest of the receiving corps. 

The Chiefs may fall behind early, but it is crucial that they stick to a game plan of getting the 25-year-old Charles the ball any way that they can.

They may need to put the ball in the air, but Charles can be an elite pass-catching running back out of the backfield.

In fact, Charles caught 66 balls for 468 yards and three touchdowns in a full 2010 season.

Peyton HIllis was brought in before the 2012 season to be the thunder to Charles' lightning, but he has yet to find paydirt, rushing for a mere 130 yards on the season.

Since Hillis has not been an effective complement, the Chiefs have to realize that their fate rests on the legs of Charles.

Even if Charles goes nuts on Monday night, it may not be enough to give the 1-7 Chiefs a victory.


Predicted Stat Line for Jamaal Charles: 16 carries, 97 yards, TD, four receptions, 38 yards