Already missing top pass rusher Tamba Hali with suspension, the Chiefs have 3 other defensive starters who will be game time decisions this week against the Falcons. Hali’s loss is probably going to be the biggest as he’s been their only consistent pass rusher over the past 3 years (though 2nd year player Justin Houston looked great down the stretch in 7 starts last year). However, his loss won’t be the only significant one.
Flowers been a top-8 cornerback on ProFootballFocus in each of the last 3 seasons, something only Champ Bailey and Darrelle Revis can also say. Last year was his worst year as he ranked 8th and though he did play really well, he also surrendered some big plays. He allowed 46 completions on 86 attempts (53.5%) for 667 yards (7.8 YPA), 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, while deflecting 8 passes and committing 5 penalties. Johnson, meanwhile, was ProFootballFocus’ 4th rated middle linebacker last year and Jovan Belcher is a talented two-down run stuffer at middle linebacker.
All of these injuries and potential injuries will make it very hard for the Chiefs to win this week. Their game plan is based on playing good defense, running the ball well, and making live easy for limited quarterback Matt Cassel. Missing so many key guys, it’ll be tough for them to play good defense against an Atlanta offense that looked very good in the preseason, backing up what many people felt before the preseason, that Matt Ryan and company were about to make the leap with Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. That’s going to make it tough for the Chiefs to follow their conservative game plan and will force Matt Cassel to have to do more than they would like.