The Kansas City Chiefs are hosting the Atlanta Falcons tomorrow and even though they're underdogs they can win this game. And, really, it's not far-fetched in the least bit to imagine how the Chiefs can win.
Here's what the Chiefs need to do to win the game:
1. Start fast and don't give up the Arrowhead advantage
The most important part of this game. The Chiefs will not be able to win if they get into a double digit hole early. They have shown us they are not a team that can consistently come back from deficits like that. So the Chiefs need to start fast on both offense and defense. Offensively, they need to be the first one to put points on the board. Defensively, they need to at least contain the Falcons offense. A turnover would be nice but mostly just don't melt down. Give the offense a chance.
Doing all of this will keep the Arrowhead crowd into the game. The home field is a big advantage for the Chiefs. Don't waste it. Make Arrowhead part of the solution.
2. Run, run, run
Some people will disagree with me here but the Chiefs need to run the ball all day long against the Falcons. If the team doesn't reach 150 yards rushing then I think they will have a problem in this game. There's a new and improved offensive line. Jamaal Charles is healthy. Peyton Hillis is in town. Dwayne Bowe is back to block on the edges.
Own the running game. It's the easiest way to success.
3. Don't get beat deep
The Falcons have the offensive weapons to take advantage of any Chiefs miscues defensively. Don't let Atlanta do what they want on offense and don't have any meltdowns. Atlanta drives 80 yards on 12 plays? I can handle that because it means they're just a better team. Atlanta scores touchdowns on 50-plus yard passes? I can't handle that.
Don't lose yourself mentally. Stay in the game and don't allow any blown coverages deep.
4. Next man up needs to play like a starter
The Chiefs are going to be in a position where they're missing a minimum of three starters -- Tamba Hali, Anthony Toribio and Kendrick Lewis. Three more starters -- Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers and Jovan Belcher -- have their status up in the air. The "Next man up" philosophy is a real thing and something the Chiefs need to fully believe in on Sunday.
No one cares that the Chiefs have five (six including Tamba Hali) starters who may not play. The Falcons certainly don't. Those backups need to play like they're starters. They can't make dumb mistakes that make this easy for Atlanta.
5. Make the big play happen
Will it be a Javier Arenas return touchdown? A pick-six? Jamaal busting one out for 75 yards?
Whatever it is, the Chiefs need the big play to happen. They need something that not only keeps Arrowhead going crazier than a Raiders fan in the prison yard but something to take the energy out of the Falcons, whether it's on offense or defense, or both.
I seem to remember the Chiefs needing a big play in a season opener a few years ago...
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