Everything is gearing up for the matchup between the Falcons and the Chiefs. I’m extremely excited, I know all Falcons fans everywhere are excited, and that the Chiefs fans are fired up too.
It is always good to get an opinion of your team from an outsider’s perspective, as well as that individual’s expert opinion on their own team. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Patrick Allen, Arrowhead Addict‘s Senior Editor. I posed six questions on the Kansas City Chiefs team, and gained a tremendous amount of insight on this team from an inside source.
Blogging Dirty- I have read a lot about the Chiefs secondary having some injury issues, players like Kendrick Lewis, Brandon Flowers, and even Eric Berry having difficulty knocking off some post-injury rust. How much will injuries in the secondary, and other roster injuries, affect this game?
Arrowhead Addict- It could be a problem. Eric Berry has looked rusty at times and Flowers, who I think will play, hasn’t practiced fully since July. Lewis isn’t as big a loss as some people might thing. His role is to mainly play center field and I think KC’s backups can handle it in his stead. But Romeo Crennel is great at game-planning and getting the most out of the players he has. I think the KC secondary will still put up a strong showing Sunday.
BD- Tamba Hali will be missing this game due to violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. How reliant on Hali are the Chiefs for his pass-rushing abilities, and what affect will his absence have on the game? How well will Andy Studebaker do as a replacement?
AA- Hali IS the KC pass rush. The defensive line doesn’t really get much pressure so the focus should shift to 2nd year OLB Justin Houston. Houston appears to be a star in the making and with Hali out, he’ll need to prove it this Sunday. I also expect Romeo Crennel to dial up some exotic blitz schemes to make up for the loss of Tamba. Keep an eye on MLB Derrick Johnson and CB Javier Arenas. Studebaker is an average NFL backup. He could be a liability if the Falcons run sweeps and tosses to his side. He sometimes is just a step late setting the edge. His pass rushing ability is not good.
BD- What do you think the Chiefs will try to do offensively to beat this Falcons defense? Any weaknesses you believe Kansas City will take advantage of?
AA- KC will probably sport a ball control offense and will try to use their various weapons to nickel and dime their way into the red zone. Look for a lot of screens, slip screens and throws to the tight ends. Play action will be KC’s friend in this game. Expect hook and dig routes from the wide receivers. As far as weaknesses, from my point of view, Atlanta’s defense is very solid. I think the Chiefs will try to establish the run early and then try to get the Falcons to bite on the play-fake.
BD- How are the Chiefs going to approach this Falcons’ offense? Realistically how productive can this defense be, and will it be able to hold up against all of Atlanta’s weapons?
AA- Make no mistake, injuries and suspensions aside, the Chiefs have a very strong defense. They can be erratic at times and are prone to meltdowns but if they are on their game, they are formidable. I’d expect KC to drop a lot of DBs into coverage and I expect Romeo will throw a lot of different zone looks at Ryan to confuse him and get him to hold on to the ball. I’d expect they’ll use an extra safety to take away the top and will allow Eric Berry to roam free, get up in the box and protect against the run. Unless the Falcons have something Romeo is unprepared for, I look for Atlanta’s offense to struggle early. They may move the ball a bit but Rome is good at frustrating QBs. When facing a Crennel defense, adjustments are often the key. If the Atlanta coaches can figure out what Romeo’s doing, I could see the Falcons getting some big plays in the second half. If not, it could be a lot of field goals.
BD- The Falcons offensive line isn’t exactly battle-tested, and there are question marks at right guard and left tackle. Will the Falcons offensive line be able to hold Kansas City’s front seven at bay, or will they struggle in both the run and pass game?
AA- The KC defensive line, as I mentioned above, doesn’t get a lot of pressure. The ends, Jackson and Dorsey, look for the run first. Neither is particularly fast or explosive and they rarely create pressure in the backfield. If I am Atlanta, I am focusing all my efforts on Houston and Studebaker and I’m leaving a back in the backfield to cleanup anyone who might sneak through.
BD- What is your prediction for the game?
AA- I really don’t know because I am just not sure how good this Chiefs team is going to be. They have all the talent but I don’t know if they will put it together in time to beat a team like Atlanta. With Tamba in the lineup I’d feel better about this game but without him, I worry about the big-threat receivers the Falcons have.
I hope I’m wrong but Atlanta 27, KC 17
A couple things here, Falcons fans. Now I know that everyone is expecting the Falcons to score on every possession, but that obviously isn’t realistic. Look what Patrick said about the Chiefs defense holding the Falcons early, then succumbing to what is expected to be a prolific offense. I really agree with what he said here. The Chiefs may be slightly/significantly less than full strength on that side of the ball, but the facts are that we are still an un-tested offense, and the Chiefs still feature an NFL defense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Falcons score on their first possession (they have been outstanding at first possession scoring the past few seasons), then only get a field goal in the rest of the first half. The Falcons will probably be able to do a little more damage in the second half. Maybe I’m wrong and the Falcons will score early and often. Hopefully the opposite of that isn’t the case.
One last note, the defensive line of the Chiefs isn’t designed to generate much pass rush. Running a 3-4 defense, the d-linemen are expected to play 2-gap techniques which entails taking up as many blocks and double-teams as possible, allowing the linebackers to make plays in the running game, or blitz from a variety of directions. What made Tamba Hali so good was his ability to use size, strength, and speed to take whatever chip blocks came his way, power through them, and get to the quarterback. Let’s just say that Andy Studebaker, the linebacker who will replace Hali this week, doesn’t possess all or most of those traits. He is an NFL player, but he isn’t necessarily outstanding. Based on what Patrick had to say about Studebaker, the Chiefs will have a devil of a time generating pass-rush.