Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/3/12

Atlanta at Kansas City

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. - TV: FOX; DirecTV: 706

*TV announcers: Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin

*Keys to the game: Without OLB Tamba Hali and uncertain of LCB Brandon Flowers' stamina level after he was dogged by a knee injury most of August, the Chiefs won't be able to attack QB Matt Ryan as coach Romeo Crennel might have liked. Having allowed 75 total points to two passive offenses in the preseason -- Seattle and St. Louis -- Kansas City could be picked apart by the Falcons' up-tempo passing game. In their effort to cloud the deep middle of the field and challenge Ryan to throw through traffic, the Chiefs will dare 30-year-old RB Michael Turner to show he's still worthy of the "Burner" label. Their best defense, though, is a 1-2 punch of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis. Charles looks to be back to pre-injury form, having recovered from a Sept. 18, 2011, ACL injury. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll won't wear out Charles this week, and the grinding plow horse Hillis might be the better card to play against a smaller front seven with a new starter at middle linebacker in Akeem Dent.

*Matchup to watch - Chiefs C Rodney Hudson vs. Falcons DTs Jon Babineaux and Peria Jerry: Hudson is a first-year starter replacing Casey Wiegmann. A guard at Florida State, he has little experience at the position but his power and natural leverage give him the upper hand against Atlanta's twin 290-pound defensive tackles.

*Player spotlight - Falcons WR Julio Jones: He lit up the competition in preseason with 13 catches for 240 yards (18.5-yard average) and a touchdown after ending last season with six touchdown catches in his final four games.

*Fast facts: Ryan is 43-19 career as a starter. ... The Chiefs had only five rushing touchdowns last season. ... Kansas City has a 1-5 record in its past six regular-season openers.


The Chiefs can't contain the Falcons without slowing the game to a crawl. Even if Kansas City can get rolling downhill behind an underrated offensive line, the Falcons' array of weapons give them the quick-strike ability to counter most anything the Chiefs can conjure up.

*Our pick: Falcons 30-20

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