Currently, the Kansas City Chiefs have five defensive starters listed on their injury report heading into their Week 1 clash with the high-powered Atlanta Falcons. However, Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis and the offensive line are healthy as can be.
With all those looming issues for Kansas City, it's easy to see why people might be concerned about what the Falcons are going to do offensively. Well, the easiest way to stop Atlanta's attack is to keep it off the field, and predictable when it has the ball by grabbing the lead.
The Falcons don't have a great rushing defense, something that the Chiefs need to exploit the entire game. It not only burns up the clock but forces Atlanta to get more aggressive in its mind-set and run-blitzing, opening up more opportunities for Matt Cassel and his receivers.
Jamaal Charles is the focal point of the offense and can really do some damage against a front seven that isn't built to deal with a front like Kansas City has. Behind Eric Winston, Jon Asamoah and Rodney Hudson, the Chiefs should pound away up the middle and to the right all afternoon.
Add in a two-tight end set with Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss, and Atlanta will have its hands full trying to contain the running game. Plus, it's not like the left side is chop liver especially with a tight end on that side. All of these options will force Mike Smith's squad to remain honest.
Hillis is also a potent weapon who can be used to soften up the defense for Charles. With Charles' speed to the outside and the Chiefs' linemen having the skill set to pull, Kansas City should have ample running room.
Despite the Falcons playing against a bevy of teams in 2011 that couldn't run the football (either because of a bad line or no running back) they finished 15th in the NFL in rushing yards against per attempt, with 4.2. Consider they were average even with a schedule that featured New Orleans twice, Tampa Bay twice, Detroit, Minnesota, Chicago (maybe the worst line in football), Tennessee and Indianapolis.
When Atlanta had to play teams with some ability on the ground, they were generally hammered for over five yards per carry. They also lost middle linebacker Curtis Lofton to the Saints and replaced him with Akeem Dent; not exactly trading up. Corey Peters is another huge loss, the Falcons' best interior run-stuffer.
Kansas City definitely has a tough game ahead of it on Sunday, but let's not forget Atlanta does as well.
"When I touch that field going out there, you're going to feel my pain; you're going to go through what I went through." - Jamaal Charles