The Falcons first season under coordinators Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter takes off on at 1pm this Sunday. Earlier this off-season Zach did a write-up on this game so make sure you go back and check it out. Last year the Chiefs were a decent team that really struggled offensively and also struggled with injuries. One of the Chiefs stars on defense, Tamba Hali, will miss the game due to violating the leagues substance abuse policy. For the Falcons, this game will be about executing what they want to do offensively and keeping the Chiefs off-balance defensively. Here are the keys to a Falcons victory:
The Alpha Dog
Establish Julio Jones as the Alpha Dog
The Falcons have more receiving threats than the average team. Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Harry Douglas, etc. Julio has shown that he can be a dominant receiver and the Falcons need to establish that from the get-go on Sunday. Establishing Julio will open up the field for Roddy, Gonzo and HD and will also allow the Falcons to have success with their screen game. It's time to show why the Falcons spent so much on bringing Julio to the ATL.
Stop the Run
The Chiefs primary RB, Jamal Charles, went down with an injury last year and the Chiefs struggled offensively. Last year the Chiefs averaged the fewest yards per carry in the league and they are going to want to have a more balanced offense this season. If the Falcons can shut down the run and make the Chiefs one-dimensional then Nolan will be able to use his schemes to turn this game.
Win Third Down
I know it's generic and you could insert this "key" into every game but it really fits for the Falcons. Last year under Brian Van Gorder the Falcons were 29th in the league on third down allowing a 44.1% success rate for their opponent. This has been one of Mike Nolan's focuses this off-season as he tries to improve not only the success rate on third down for the Falcons defense but also their third down sack rate.