The first week of the NFL is always interesting because of all the unanswered questions from the preseason finally begin to take shape. One of the biggest questions always asked is how much does preseason performance carry over to the regular season? For the Kansas City Chiefs, they hope the transfer is minimal at best.
Finishing a disappointing 7-9, resulting in last place in the AFC West, the Chiefs look to start the season off strong against the Atlanta Falcons. Offensively in 2011, the Chiefs had a difficult year. Averaging 310 yards a game, Kansas City had the fifth least yardage per game. Averaging 192 passing yards and 118 rushing yards each game, the Chiefs had the seventh worst passing attack, but the 15th best running game.
As far as statistics go, the Chiefs had a decent defense. The Chiefs allowed the 11th least amount of yards a game, averaging 333. As far as limiting points, Kansas City was 12th best, surrendering only 338 points. The main reason for the Chiefs losing record last year was their lack of offensive points scored. Kansas City had the second-least points scored with 212.
For the Falcons to be victorious, they need to keep pace with their stats from last year. The Falcons were the seventh best scoring team last year, totaling 402 points. With the Chiefs’ lackluster pass defense, Atlanta needs to continue throwing the ball to Julio Jones and Roddy White. Last year, the Falcons averaged 262 yards passing each game, the eighth highest of any team.
For the Chiefs, they have one weapon that’s always available to them: their fans. Regardless of their team’s record, Chiefs Nation averages more than 77,000 fans at Arrowhead Stadium.
Kansas City head coach Romeo Crennel said he wants the Chiefs to focus on the things his team has done well and to build off those successes. This probably means a focus on their ground game mixed in with quick, short passes. As a team, the Chiefs do not have enough speed at wide receiver to be considered a continuous downfield threat.
Of course, the biggest story of this Week 1 matchup is the return of Tony Gonzalez to play the team he spent his first 11 years with. Gonzalez finished his time in Kansas City owning five team records, including 916 career receptions, 10,940 receiving yards, 76 receiving touchdowns, 10,954 yards from scrimmage and 130 consecutive games with a reception.
Gonzalez is looking forward to the game, but knows it’ll be an unusual feeling when he enters the stadium. “It’s going to be a little weird being in a different locker room and coming out of that tunnel when we first come in,” Gonzalez said on the Chiefs’ official website. “It’s going to be a little weird, but I’m looking forward to it.” The general consensus is that Gonzalez will receive a hero’s welcome from the 77,000 plus members of Chiefs Nation when he steps onto the field Sunday.
In the last 10 years, these two teams have only met twice, each team winning at home. Back in 2008 when Matt Ryan was a rookie, the Falcons defeated the Chiefs 38-14. Back in 2004, the Kansas City overpowered Atlanta 56-10.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.