To testify is to solemnly attest to the truth of a matter. This weekend with the Atlanta Falcons coming into town, the Chiefs have the ability to give their first testimony. The Chiefs are a somewhat sexy pick right now among pundits. We’ve all seen a number of NFL analysts from Peter King to Bill Williamson pick the Chiefs to win the AFC West. This Sunday, the Chiefs have their first big test to testify to the accuracy of those predictions. And make no mistake, the Atlanta Falcons will put the test in testify.
We are set to matchup against one of the NFL’s most elite teams. That’s right, I said elite. The Falcons honestly don’t get nearly the credit they warrant. Since drafting Matt Ryan in 2008, the Falcons have not had a single losing season. They play in one of the tougher divisions in the league right now, sharing it with the Saints (a perennial contender since 2006), the Bucs (a team that has been up and down the last few seasons, but has some strong pieces in place), and the Panthers (with one of the most electric QBs in recent memory). In three of the four seasons since drafting Matt Ryan, the Falcons have made the playoffs. So why aren’t they recognized as an elite team? Well, primarily because they haven’t won a single playoff game in that span. But it is worth noting that in the last two years, they lost their first playoff games to the eventual Super Bowl Champions (NYG in 2011, GB in 2010). Additionally in their worst to first season in 2008 they lost to the Arizona Cardinals, who would go on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
What makes this game an even better testimony than just the fact that the Falcons merit being called an elite team is what this Falcons team does well and how it matches up against our Chiefs this week in particular. The strength of our defense has been our passing defense, particularly thanks to the pass rushing abilities of Tamba Hali and the solid defensive backfield featuring Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry. The Atlanta Falcons were the #8 passing offense in the NFL last season, and in watching their preseason games, they seem intent on improving that with the dual threat of Roddy White and Julio Jones. In a way, it makes this matchup that much more of a test because our top pass rusher is out on suspension, our #1 cornerback will be playing his first snaps since missing most of the preseason, our star safety will be playing his first regular season game in a year while his starting free safety counterpart is out, and our #2 corner will be playing his first real game in a Chiefs uniform. The fact that we are banged up in the exact area that we need to be the strongest in makes this game a great test for this team. It’s also worth noting that the Falcons defense was #6 in the league against the rush last year. If our team has an identity on the offensive side of the football, it is our ability to run the ball and impose our will at the line of scrimmage. With Jamaal Charles back in his first real snaps in a year, and new addition Peyton Hillis out to prove last season in Cleveland was a fluke, being tested against a very underrated rushing defense will be an important measuring stick for our Chiefs.
According to Wikipedia, the root of testify is the Latin word testes, since that is what men would swear on when giving their testimony in court. So strap on those cups, sack up, and get ready to go balls to the wall Chiefs. Because in the words of Zach De La Rocha from Rage Against the Machine:
It's right outside your door.