Kansas City Chiefs: Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis Key vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Kansas City Chiefs made it apparent how they plan to succeed on offense during the 2012 season by finishing fourth in the league in rushing (159.2 yards per game) after four preseason games.
While quarterback Matt Cassel has a plethora of weapons in the passing game (Dwayne Bowe, Jon Baldwin, Dexter McCluster, Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss), opposing defenses are sure to see plenty of Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis and the rest of the Chiefs backfield this season.
That all starts this Sunday as the Atlanta Falcons come to Arrowhead Stadium to take on Kansas City in the season opener.
Regardless of the opponent, the Chiefs' plan should be to control the line of scrimmage on offense. The fact that the Falcons finished 27th during the preseason by giving up 132.2 yard per game on the ground gives Kansas City a great opportunity to start the season out on the right foot.
Putting too much credence into preseason stats can often yield heartbreak, but the fact that the Chiefs seem to have this much of an advantage in the running game can only bode well for their chances; it may even be their only chance.
The Chiefs will enter the Week 1 matchup with the Falcons with many question marks.
Tamba Hali, their top pass-rusher, will be suspended for the game. And injury concerns surrounding cornerback Brandon Flowers, linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Kendrick Lewis will also hamper Kansas City's chances against the high-powered Atlanta offense.
Top pass-catching threat Dwayne Bowe is also still familiarizing himself with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's new system after holding out all of training camp.
That all puts more emphasis on the Chiefs to control the ground game and keep the ball out of Matt Ryan's hands.
It will be a very tough task to keep Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Michael Turner out of the end zone. But, if Charles and Hillis can find enough holes to extend drives and score some points themselves, Kansas City should be able to keep up with the Falcons on Sunday.
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