Week 1: Kansas City Chiefs Vs. Atlanta Falcons
- QuarterbackMatt Cassel is an accurate passer, has excellent intangibles and is respected in the locker room. However, he takes a lot of abuse and he missed the final seven games with a broken hand last year. Brady Quinn appears to be a competent backup.Matt Ryan has established himself as a quarterback who can move around the pocket well, throw the ball accurately and help lead his team to important regular-season victories. However, he has yet to win a game in the postseason and there will be questions about him until he can accomplish that feat.
- OffenseThe Chiefs appears to have a productive running game with explosive Jamaal Charles and versatile Peyton Hillis. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is a big-play performer who is capable of making the spectacular catch when the game is on the line.The Falcons like to have a somewhat balanced offense with Michael Turner providing the bulk of the carries in the running game. However, the offensive line did not block as well for him last year as it had in the past. Roddy White and Julio Jones are big-play receivers who enhance Ryan’s talent.
- DefenseThe Chiefs will run head coach Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense and there appears to be a good chance that Kansas City has the dominant linebackers to execute it well. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali has become one of the AFC’s best pass rushers while Derrick Johnson is a sure tackler who wears out opposing offenses with his hard hitting.The Falcons turn the defense over to Mike Nolan this year and even though he prefers the 3-4 set-up, the Falcons will stick with a 4-3 defense. The Falcons have been solid against the run, but Nolan’s goal will be to improve the pass rush and the pass coverage. John Abraham still posts big sack numbers but he is an in-and-out performer at this point. Speedy Kroy Bierman can also rush the passer.
- Special TeamsSpecial teams could be a big advantage for the Chiefs throughout the season. Ryan Succop rarely misses any field goal when the game is on the line and punter Dustin Colquitt knows how to pin opponents in deep. Returners Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas both have game-breaking speed.Matt Bryant doesn’t have the strongest leg in the NFL, but if you give him a field goal of 40 yards or less he’s not going to miss. Matt Bosher is an accurate punter who can also kick off for the Falcons.
The Chiefs may be one of the surprise teams in the league. While they don’t appear to be overwhelmingly strong, they don’t have any severe weaknesses. Look for Romeo Crennel to get off to a good start at home.