The Kansas City Chiefs start the NFL regular season on September 9. With rosters basically set and in place after offseason moves, it’s time to see how the Chiefs match up with their 2012 opponents. This article is the first of 16 that will walk through the Kansas City Chiefs schedule. Today we start with the September 9 opener, a home date with the Atlanta Falcons.
A lot of people around the league are going to be watching Atlanta to see if there’s any hangover after a disappointing playoff loss to the New York Giants last year. From a personnel standpoint, both teams made their big draft additions on the interior of the line. Kansas City’s Dontari Poe makes his debut on the nose in the 3-4, while Atlanta drafted Wisconsin Badgers center Peter Konz and moved him to guard where he sits atop the depth chart. The Falcons finished 17th in rushing a year ago despite the presence of Michael Turner, so improving this area is paramount—and stopping it is going to be crucial for Kansas City to win their opener.
The Chiefs don’t want to get into a situation where Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan can get run-pass balance and start feeling comfortable in a deep drop and looking downfield. Wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones are a mismatch for the Kansas City corners. The Chiefs need to first stop Turner on the run, thus allowing Tamba Hali to not worry about rush defense and liberate him to attack Ryan on the edge and create some havoc.
When Kansas City has the ball, the new-look offensive line is going to get its first test. Atlanta has a quality pass-rushing defensive end in John Abraham, while Ray Edwards is trying to show he still has some gas left in the tank on the other side of the 4-3 front. KC’s free-agent acquisition Eric Winston will get to earn his money right from the outset. And when Atlanta’s defense is in full throttle—which was not nearly often enough in 2011—they get gut pressure from the tackles, meaning second-year center Rodney Hudson has a stiff test in his first year as the starter.
Atlanta defends the run well, so even with Jamaal Charles back in the fold, it’s going to be important for Matt Cassell to work efficiently, and with tight end Tony Moeaki back in the fold as the underneath complement to Dwayne Bowe, I think he can do just that. I’m also with those who feel the Falcons are headed for a hangover season and Kansas City wins a good game thanks to a big day from Hali and an efficient offensive performance.
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