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Preview: Falcons at Chiefs

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Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have had plenty of success over the past few seasons, but it has yet to lead to a playoff win. The Falcons brought in new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to help Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White form a more dynamic passing attack and take some pressure off running back Michael Turner. That offense gets its first test on Sunday afternoon at the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs went from division champs in 2010 to 7-9 in 2011 but are optimistic under new head coach Romeo Crennel, who will have a healthy Eric Berry to add to a defense that was sixth against the pass last season. Also returning off a knee injury is Jamaal Charles, who now has Peyton Hillis to alleviate some pressure in the Kansas City backfield.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -3. O/U: 43.5

ABOUT THE FALCONS (2011: 10-6): Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez will be making his first trip back to Kansas City since being traded prior to the 2009 season. Gonzalez, who is likely playing his final season, is just one of the weapons at the disposal of Ryan. The Falcons averaged more than 25 points in the regular season but did not score on offense in a 24-2 loss at the New York Giants in the first round of the playoffs. Koetter has worked on more deep routes for Jones while getting Jacquizz Rodgers more involved in both the run and pass games. Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan is the new defensive coordinator and he will have former Pro Bowl defensive back Asante Samuel added to the backfield. Atlanta returns 19 of 22 starters from 2011 and is hoping the new coordinators make the difference.

ABOUT THE CHIEFS (2011: 7-9): Kansas City is also hoping a change in staff makes a big difference. After Todd Haley was let go with three games left last season, Crennel kept the team focused and playing hard through the final month to earn himself a second chance at a head coaching job in the NFL. Crennel will still have a heavy hand in the defense, which gets safety Berry back after he missed last season with a torn ACL. Berry was joined by Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki in rehab from knee injuries throughout the 2011 campaign, and all should be ready for Sunday. Quarterback Matt Cassel missed the final seven games with a broken hand in 2011 and will guide a conservative attack based around Charles and Hillis.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Chiefs will be without LB Tamba Hali, who was suspended one game for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

2. The Falcons are 23-0 when Ryan has a quarterback rating over 100.

3. Kansas City CB Brandon Flowers (heel) returned to practice Monday after missing over a month.

PREDICTION: Falcons 24, Chiefs 17

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Stadium

Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
Capacity: 76,416

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Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs

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Last Injuries

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Andrew Wylie

    Stomach
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Wylie sat out the previous game due to stomach pain, and it is unclear if he will line up Sunday versus the Patriots.

  • Alex Okafor

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Okafor has been held out of the past two games due to a minor hamstring strain, and it is uncertain if he will suit up Sunday versus the Patriots.

  • Chris Jones

    Groin
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Jones has a groin injury, and it has yet to be established if he will take part in Sunday's matchup with the Patriots.

  • Charvarius Ward

    Hand
    day-to-day | questionable

    Ward sat out the previous game with a fractured left hand, but he is projected to play against the Ravens on Monday.

  • Antonio Hamilton

    Groin
    Prob Mon | probable

    Hamilton left the previous game with a groin injury, but it is not expected to affect his status for Monday's contest versus the Ravens.

  • Darrel Williams

    Ankle
    Prob Mon | probable

    Williams exited the last game with an ankle injury, but he is expected to face the Ravens on Monday.

  • Frank Clark

    Illness
    Prob Mon | probable

    Clark was lifted from the last game due to an illness, but the symptoms will subside in time for Monday's matchup versus the Ravens.

  • Sammy Watkins

    Concussion
    Prob Mon | probable

    Watkins left the previous game due to a head injury and is going through the league's concussion protocol. It is anticipated that he will be available Monday versus the Ravens.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Kendall Sheffield

    Foot
    Ques Mon | questionable

    Sheffield has sat out the previous three games due to a foot injury, and it is unknown if he will suit up Monday versus the Packers.

  • Calvin Ridley

    Ankle
    Ques Mon | questionable

    Ridley is hobbled by an ankle injury, and it remains to be seen if he will suit up for Monday's contest against the Packers.

  • Takkarist McKinley

    Groin
    Ques Mon | questionable

    McKinley missed the last game due to a groin injury, and it is unknown if he will participate in Monday's matchup against the Packers.

  • Foyesade Oluokun

    Hamstring
    Ques Mon | questionable

    Oluokun was held out of the last game with cramping in his hamstring, and it is undetermined if he will be ready for Monday's clash versus the Packers.

  • Russell Gage

    Concussion
    Ques Mon | questionable

    Gage left the last game due to concussion-like symptoms, and his status for Monday's contest against the Packers is in question.

  • Grady Jarrett

    Hip
    Ques Mon | questionable

    Jarrett departed the previous game with a hip injury, and it is uncertain if he will line up versus the Packers on Monday.

  • Younghoe Koo

    Groin
    Out indefinitely | out

    Koo will miss an undetermined length of time due to a groin strain.

  • Julio Jones

    Hamstring
    Prob Sun | probable

    Jones is managing a left hamstring strain and did not play in the previous game. It is anticipated that he will take the field against the Packers on Monday.