It's time for that weekly opportunity to find out some questions about this week's game from the Baltimore Ravens opponent's perspective. I sent some questions to SB Nation's Kansas City Chiefs' blog, Arrowhead Pride, and here they are with the responses from Brendan of The Official Arrowhead Pride PARADE:
Here are five questions regarding the Kansas City Chiefs coming to play the Baltimore Ravens in the first week of the 2009 NFL season:
Q: Will the injury to QB Matt Cassel affect his status against the Ravens defense and are you sure the coaches wouldn't prefer to hold him out of the game rather than subject him to the Ravens ferocious defense?
A: Since the Chiefs hired former Patriots GM Scott Pioli, it's been tough to get a straight answer about the status of player injuries. With that in mind, Cassel's actual status probably won't be determined until game day. Considering the disheartening state of the right side of our offensive line, lots of Chiefs fans would like to see Cassel sit out regardless and come out strong in week 2 against the lowly Raiders. Don't be fooled dear Baltimore Beatdown readers, those fans are cowards, COWARDS we tell you. Coach Haley likely shares this sentiment, there's just too much need to change the attitude around the Chiefs to start conceding games in that fashion. On the other hand, Haley seems to like playing his cards close to the vest and our #2 & 3 guys, Croyle & Thigpen, both bring different potential wrinkles to a game plan. So, long story short... we'll see Sunday.
More Q&A With Arrowhead Pride PARADE after the "Jump."
Q: What does backup QB Tyler Thigpen bring to the table different than Cassel?
A: Thigpen, or as we know him "Bones," is probably one of the more mobile QB's around the NFL right now. He's definitely most effective out of the shotgun, and last year he was greatly benefited by the so called "Arrowspread" offense. That said, Bones has struggled with running a more traditional under center offense and definitely struggles with underthrowing the long ball. Additionally, we wouldn't be surprised to see some 'creative' use of Thigpen over the season regardless of who is the starter in week one.
Q: How do you expect the removal of Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey to affect the playcalling?
A: The removal of Gailey as OC presents some sticky issues for the Chiefs. On the one hand, Gailey was the architect of the "Arrowspread" offense last season. Those with long enough memories will remember Gailey as OC during the Kordell "Slash" Stewart years in Pittsburgh (which is in no way, we repeat NO WAY, a comment on any former Steelers players' sexual preference, jeez Baltimore). That said, Gailey was more of an old school "run to set up the pass" and if that doesn't work, go Hunter S. Thompson style on the motha Fs and blow up the playbook. Haley is far more likely to implement something like you saw in Arizona last year (e.g., stretching the field with some long passes and big chunks of offense). It could be a big day for Ed Reed one way or another. This is probably a good move in the long run, but takes away the likelihood of the "Arrowspread" ever coming back, even if Thigpen has to come in.
Q: Is RB Larry Johnson anywhere near his form of the past and how do you expect him to do versus the Ravens run defense?
A: There seems to be some sort of collective mental scarring in Bodymore after that 2006 game so it's difficult to tell what level we're talking about. For us, in Kansas City there was some concern after the last two seasons LJ had gone the way of Edgerrin James (not to mention all the malcontent business). But LJ seems to have turn things around this off-season, he's in better shape than he's been in a while and has bought - at least vocally - into the new KC regime. That said, is he in 2006 form and likely to make Ray & Co. look foo foo silly pants again? Eh, not too likely. Will he get a couple good chunk runs at some point Sunday? Probably. He's also probably splitting the load with Jamaal Charles who's more of speed threat as well.
Q: How do you see the Ravens QB Joe Flacco and company doing offensively against the Chief's defense, who do we need to watch (on both sides of the ball) and what is your prediction of the final score?
A: Flacco needs to be careful after some questionable comments earlier this week. The Chiefs secondary has been the one aspect of our team not to be taken lightly after last year. That said, there's been some turnover in cutting Bernard "Brady Killer" Pollard, which raises serious questions. Also, Brandon Flowers who's looking to be our biggest young secondary star is coming off a shoulder injury and listed as questionable. We'd guess a lot of this game is going to come down to whether the Chiefs front seven can stop your running game. On offense if you see a lot of DE Tyson Jackson and converted OLB Tamba Hali, it could be a rough day for Flacco. On defense, like we said, Jamaal Charles could surprise people. Obviously, Dwayne Bowe presents a threat, but there's a big concern in KC over whether we have a real #2 receiver. Look out for Mark Bradley, he's got a long Haley relationship and has been under the radar in the preseason.
Ultimately, the Chiefs are in the unenviable position of wanting to make this about their defense stopping your offense. Ideally, we'd like not to have long day of our right offensive line trying to keep our backfield healthy against the Raven's physical pass rush.
Final prediction: 15-14 Chiefs in the City that bleeds, the PARADE doesn't let logic get in the way of principle (and we like safeties).