The Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs begin their season at Arrowhead stadium on Sunday, September 9th.
Since 1990, the Chiefs have had a 25-9 record against NFC opponents at home. However this could be a game that goes Atlanta’s way.
Here’s what to expect Sunday.
Cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt vs. wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White:
The Chiefs' top cornerback, Brandon Flowers, has been missing in action since the start of training camp and didn’t play at all in preseason. He was working with the first-team in practice this week and will play, but will probably not be at 100 percent.
Stanford Routt was brought in to replace Brandon Carr who went to Dallas because the Chiefs didn’t want to pay his price tag. He looked pretty good keeping Victor Cruz quiet on Wednesday. Routt is average at best, and the reserve cornerback, Jalil Brown, is still trying to find his way.
Jones is a premier receiver in the making. White is a savvy veteran. The Falcons are expected to favor a 60/40 pass to run this year on offense. Expect at least one of these guys to score Sunday.
Running backs Jamal Charles and Peyton Hillis vs. the Atlanta Falcons' defensive line:
On paper Charles and Hillis maybe the Chiefs' best one-two punch since Christian Okoye and Barry Word from the early Marty Schottenheimer Polka Days. Charles is back from a 2011 early season knee injury. He looks strong in the preseason. The entire nation outside of Kansas City has forgotten about him. Expect Charles to have a big run or two on Sunday, he has a lot to prove.
Peyton Hillis is a goal-line crusher, and with an upgraded run-friendly offensive line featuring Eric Winston, the Chiefs will run the ball successfully on Sunday. Atlanta did have a top 10 run defense in 2011. Jon Abraham and Ray Edwards are solid players, but they will have their hands full trying to slow these guys down.
Kansas City offensive coordinator Brian Daboll vs. Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan:
Both of these guys were working together just last year for the Miami Dolphins. However after a poor start to last season, the Dolphins decided to make changes in 2012.
Faster than coach Tony Sparano could get his home on the market, Daboll and Nolan split and found jobs in Kansas City and Atlanta.
Nolan is a defensive guru. Along with being the head coach of the 49ers, he has lead successful defenses in Baltimore, Denver, and the New York Jets.
The younger Brian Daboll coordinated the Browns to a 32nd and 30th ranked offense in his past job experiences. He did get Miami to a 20th rank last year. These guys know each other well, but you have to give the nod to the more experienced Nolan.
Unless Daboll and Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel can throw in some successful surprise tweaks, expect the more experienced Nolan to get the best of Daboll’s run-first, throw later, old-school offensive play-calling.
No one will want to score more on Sunday than Falcon tight end Tony Gonzalez as he returns to Arrowhead for the first time since he left Kansas City. The Todd Haley Chiefs of 2011 let tight end Scott Chandler catch two touchdowns in the home opener at Arrowhead last year, as the Bills embarrassed the Chiefs.
Gonzalez will want his number called in the red zone. Look for quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons to win this game.