EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce should be licking his chops. The tight end is a favorable matchup against almost any defense, let alone that of the New York Giants. He may be unguardable against them.
The Giants' defense has taken failing to stop opposing tight ends to a new level. They have made the Detroit Lions' Eric Ebron, the Denver Broncos' Jeff Heuerman and the San Francisco 49ers' Garrett Celek look dangerous. The Giants have allowed all three -- and every starting tight end they've faced this season -- to reach the end zone.
Ebron has two touchdowns this season -- against the Giants and the Cleveland Browns, who also struggle covering tight ends. Heuerman's only career touchdown came against the Giants, and Celek had the most productive game of his career against a defense that has proven time and time again incapable of stopping tight ends.
The Giants have allowed 37 catches for 424 yards and nine touchdowns to starting tight ends this season. They've allowed 50 catches for 632 yards and 10 touchdowns total. No other team has allowed more than seven touchdowns to tight ends.
Even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' O.J. Howard -- a backup -- found the end zone against the Giants' defense, which has allowed a touchdown to a tight end in an NFL record 10 straight games dating to last year.
So what will Kelce do? Probably a lot of damage.
Kelce is first among tight ends in yards (629), second in catches (51) and tied for second in touchdowns (five).
"He's a big basketball player playing tight end," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said.
This doesn't bode well for the Giants, who had trouble with tight ends before they were shorthanded at linebacker. Middle linebacker B.J. Goodson is likely to miss Sunday's matchup against the Chiefs at MefLife Stadium. Last week's starter, Kelvin Sheppard, was recently signed off the street and is struggling with a quad injury. Keenan Robinson, who did well in coverage last year, was also placed on injured reserve earlier this week.
The Giants' linebacker situation is shaky at best. Undrafted rookie Calvin Munson is expected to start at middle linebacker with Curtis Grant also factoring into the mix. Veterans Jonathan Casillas and Devon Kennard, neither known for their cover ability, should start at the outside linebacker spots but both have been dealing recently with their own injuries.
It all sets up for a massive day for Kelce, who has scored a touchdown in three straight games. He's had 14 catches for 203 yards in Kansas City's past two games, against the Broncos and Dallas Cowboys.
"He's got a good feel for the game," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "He's got physical skill and he's got a good feel. He loves playing."
Kelce may especially like playing against the Giants, who will need to find some way to stop perhaps the league's best receiving tight end. One solution could be more three-safety sets. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has often leaned on three safeties in the past, although not a ton this season.
That would make the Giants even more susceptible against the run. That could be troubling against the Chiefs, who also have a strong running game. They are tied for first in the NFL averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
Kelce and the entire Kansas City offense should be licking their chops against a Giants defense that is ranked 31st overall and has allowed 82 points in the past two games combined.