KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 09: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons catches a 8-yard touchdown pass against defensive back Jacques Reeves #35 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter their season opener on September 9, 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Chiefs Vs. Falcons: Matt Cassel Looked Good While Defense Struggled Against Matt Ryan

The Kansas City Chiefs opened the season with a dud against the Atlanta Falcons.

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Romeo Crennel Says Opportunities For Jon Baldwin 'Just Didn't Come Up Today'

All through the most recent offseason, the most buzz coming from the Kansas City Chiefs centered around the potential for second year wide receiver Jon Baldwin. The Chiefs thought enough of Baldwin's potential to select him with their first round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft, and then watched him reel off several head-turning catches throughout OTAs and training camp. Yet after the team's first preseason game, Baldwin didn't even have a single catch. In fact, he was never even targeted.

After such a promising offseason, many predicted Baldwin would make a major leap forward and give the Chiefs a dynamic red zone target. His rookie season was disappointing after missing the first several games with a thumb injury after a preseason locker room fight with Thomas Jones. After he healed and put in the time, it was clear that Baldwin was focused and ready to make good on his draft stock.

After the game, head coach Romeo Crennel didn't offer a specific reason for Baldwin's lack of playing time or plays drawn up for him. It simply didn't happen.

"Well he's trying to develop a role in the offense," said Crennel after the game. "He's working at it, and I think eventually he will have his spot and he will be making plays, but it just didn't come up today."

The Chiefs certainly have more offensive personnel to get the ball to than ever before in Matt Cassel's tenure with the team, but Baldwin has the size and athletic ability to do what no one else on the team can do. It will be interesting to see if any drama comes of this or if any further explanation is given in the coming days.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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Falcons Vs. Chiefs: Game Time, TV Schedule, Injury Updates And More

The Kansas City Chiefs open their 2012 season Sunday by hosting the Atlanta Falcons at Arrowhead Stadium. The game will be Romeo Crennel's first as the permanent head coach of the Chiefs. Crennel took over last season on an interim basis after Kansas City fired Todd Haley with three games left to play.

The Chiefs welcome back a number of players who missed large amounts of time for injury in 2011. Quarterback Matt Cassel returns to action after missing the final seven games of last season with a hand injury. Halfback Jamaal Charles, who tore an ACL in Week 2 last year, also returns to the field, as does tight end Tony Moeaki, who also tore his ACL and missed the entire season.

Crennel's dealing with a whole new set of injuries this week, though, mostly on defense. Cornerback Brandon Flowers (questionable) is nursing an injured heel, linebacker Derrick Johnson (questionable) has an injured ankle and safety Kendrick Lewis (doubtful) hasn't fully recovered from a shoulder injury. Backup cornerback Jalil Brown may also miss the game.

Former Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez makes his first appearance at Arrowhead Stadium since being traded to Atlanta prior to the 2009 season. The 12-time Pro Bowler has said he will likely retire after this season.

Coverage begins on Fox at noon CT.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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The Long-Term Rhetoric Around Dontari Poe Is Nearly Gone

The moment that the draft card for Dontari Poe was turned into the powers-that-be at the 2012 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, it seemed the team had already memorized the necessary rhetoric about the defensive tackle's long-term development.

Fans of the Chiefs learned a few things about Poe very quickly: the team had targeted him all along, his workouts were amazing, his level of competition at Memphis was subpar and the learning curve was going to be steep.

Through it all, the team said to expect very little from Poe up front. Romeo Crennel and other assistant coaches talked about the long-term nature of Poe's impact and how it takes a significant amount of time -- multiple seasons even -- for defensive linemen to learn the proper technique needed to succeed in the trenches. For a fan base still waiting for Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey to turn in a Pro Bowl season, patience was a word that was already in their vocabulary.

Now that week one is here in the NFL, all of that is gone. Or at the very least, things have changed significantly. Poe has been summoned. He will be needed -- not only against the Atlanta Falcons, but for the duration of his rookie year.

It's not that Poe will not need several games to get into a groove or that he will not continue to develop as the season's go on. But it's clear that the Chiefs have not made the investment at the position needed to maintain their initial stance.

If they really wanted to bring Poe along slowly, then they should have brought in a veteran free agent (i.e. last year's acquisition of Kelly Gregg) to help mentor and fill-in. Instead the team has rolled with familiar faces like Anthony Toribio and Jerrell Powe. The team is simply too thin at defensive tackle to take Dontari Poe's presence as anything but a player set to earn major playing time, a player upon whom the team is counting on to deliver at the point of contact for a significant portion of each game.

For Sunday's opening contest against the Atlanta Falcons, injuries further deplete the position to the point that Poe's first game as a professional football player will be one of his most meaningful. Anthony Toribio has been plagued by injuries and it will be surprising if Allen Bailey plays at all.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the Chiefs have been working out several defensive players this week in the face of injuries but none of them are along the defensive line. Chris Cook got a workout at linebacker while Bobby Carpenter among others got some reps at linebacker in front of Scott Pioli and his staff. But despite the listings on the injury report, no one reported to Arrowhead to help bolster the defensive line.

The reason has been made clear at this point: Dontari Poe is a player the Chiefs believe will make an impact from day one. It should not be surprising if Poe warrants a lot of playing time against the Falcons. If the Chiefs are right, he could also make a strong impact. While no one from the Chiefs has directly said it, it's clear from their lack of roster moves that Poe is expected to make significant contributions from the outset.

For more on the Kansas City Chiefs, check out the discussion and analysis at Arrowhead Pride.

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Multiple Contract Years Should Play In Chiefs' Favor In 2012

Every season is a big season in the NFL for each franchise and player involved. The beauty of a 16-game season is that each week is a do-or-die affair and reputations are formed for better or worse with each passing week. Unlike the 82 game basketball season or the 162 game baseball season, the NFL realizes that less is more and the level of drama with each game is significant.

Yet every year there is a tier of players for whom the games are that much more meaningful. Players who are entering the final year of their contracts, otherwise known as a contract year, have more on the line than others with a bit more job security. While the NFL can become a cruel business for players who believe they are on solid footing (i.e. the Ravens recent dealings with offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie), the guys who are entering their final season with an official contract all realize a significant level of pressure.

Several members of the Kansas City Chiefs have significant paydays ahead if they can warrant the big payday they are hoping for -- either from the Chiefs or another team on the open market. On both sides of the ball, the Chiefs have several decisions to make to lock up a number of players before next year's free agency period. While fans can become frustrated with the lack of certainty for the Chiefs at a number of positions, it also means these players know they have a 16-game audition with which to impress the powers-that-be.

Think about the names that are out there for a minute: Dwayne Bowe at wide receiver, Brandon Albert at left tackle, Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey at defensive end, Ryan Lilja at guard, Peyton Hillis at running back. Even punter Dustin Colquitt can walk next season. Those are significant players at impact positions for the Chiefs, and that can be a very good thing for the 2012 NFL season.

Several of these players will likely re-sign with the Chiefs at some point, whether by warranting an in-season extension or by returning to the team in the offseason. But the pressure hanging over their heads is likely something that the front office wanted all along for these players in particular.

Let's take the case of Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, who is technically not a free agent in 2013 but whose contract is certainly cost-prohibitive next year at over $14 million. Both LSU players were top five NFL draft picks (No. 3 in Jackson's case) who have developed an unfair reputation as potential draft busts and players who have failed to live up to the billing. While both are fine run stoppers, neither one has made the national splash expected and their next contract should reflect that perception.

Yet they also have the chance to make that impression over the next 16 games. The Chiefs defense is predicated on what the front line can do to free up playmaking linebackers like Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, so Dorsey and Jackson absolutely must become a consistent force in the Chiefs base to earn that next check. While neither player will find themselves out of the NFL anytime soon, it's that first contract after the rookie deal that can set them up for life. Just ask Brandon Carr.

None of these players can afford to miss a game or fail to practice hard. Every one of these players must show up on every down. While they are always being watched by the front office and coaching staff, this is a significant year of evaluation for each player along the trenches and among the skill positions. This is a good thing for the Chiefs, who can expect each player to perform at the highest levels possible knowing that their earning power is at stake for the next 16 weeks.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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NFL Week 1 Predictions: Sports Guy Bill Simmons Picks Falcons Over Chiefs

Week 1 in the NFL is finally here and that means a slew of predictions and picks columns will begin to emerge over the next 4-5 months, including the always entertaining Bill Simmons, a.k.a. The Sports Guy. The Grantland/ESPN columnist has released his first predictions feature for the 2012 season and that includes the upcoming Kansas City Chiefs vs. Atlanta Falcons game this Sunday.

Simmons writes, "Feels like a 'fool's gold' victory much like the one Dallas just had - Atlanta comes through outdoors on the road against the banged-up Chiefs, everyone gets a little too excited, and ultimately, it doesn't mean much. Here's where I remind you that Rex Grossman and the Redskins beat the Giants in Week 1 last year, followed by people picking up Rex in fantasy leagues and stuff."

The Chiefs are 2.5 point underdogs to the Falcons, but Arrowhead is a tough place to play. It should be interesting to see how the Chiefs respond to numerous injuries on the defense, especially against such a dominating Falcons' offensive unit.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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Week 1 NFL Odds: Falcons Slightly Favored Over Chiefs

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will kick off their NFL season against the Atlanta Falcons. As the game approaches, Atlanta continues to be a very slight favorite. According to the odds at Oddsshark.com, the Falcons are being listed as anywhere from a two and a half to three point favorite by the various odds-makers listed.

SB Nation's NFL odds page has the Falcons listed as the favorite by a single point.

Around the NFL, the biggest margins given are for the Chicago Bears, who are a nine point favorite over the Colts, and the Detroit Lions, who are given the same margin over the St. Louis Rams.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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Chiefs Work Out Linebacker Bobby Carpenter

The Kansas City Chiefs worked out linebacker Bobby Carpenter earlier this week, according to reports.

Adam Caplan of The Sideline View tweeted the news on Wednesday. The Chiefs also worked out linebacker Bryan Kehl, Caplan said.

Starting inside linebacker Derrick Johnson is fighting an ankle injury and told the Kansas City Star he's "optimistic" he'll play in Sunday's season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Jovan Belcher, the Chief's other starting inside linebacker, missed practice Thursday (after it was reported that Carpenter and Kehl had worked out) with a sore groin.

The workouts of Carpenter and Kehl were likely intended to bolster depth amid a slew of injuries to Kansas City's defense, but the latest news on Belcher may make the situation more urgent.

Carpenter was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He was traded to the St. Louis Rams in May 2010 and was cut in September 2010. He has since spent time with the Miami Dolphins, the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots.

The Chiefs kick off against the Falcons on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT on Fox.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub for additional news and analysis around the league.

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Tony Gonzalez Misses Chiefs Fans, Atmosphere

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez hasn't played in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium since Dec. 21, 2008. The NFL's career leader in touchdowns and receiving yards as a tight end played for the Chiefs from 1997-2008 will make his first trip back to Arrowhead when the Falcons open their season against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Gonzalez told Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star that he's very sentimental about his time in Kansas City; he's particularly fond of the fans and the Arrowhead Stadium atmosphere.

From Covitz:

"Everybody is asking me, ‘What's it like in there? Is the stadium loud?' " Gonzalez said of his Atlanta teammates, who last played at Arrowhead in 2004. "And, I'm like, ‘Oh yeah, it's going to be crazy, it's opening day, they've got a pretty good football team ... wait until you hear the national anthem, and wait until you hear, after every first down, the whole crowd shouting, ‘That's a Chiefs' first down!' "

Gonzalez already led the NFL's career list for tight ends in touchdowns, receptions and yards when he was traded to the Falcons prior to the 2009 season for a second-round draft pick. (Gonzalez requested the trade; he did not want to be part of another rebuilding process at that advanced stage in his career.)

Now Gonzalez trails only Jerry Rice in receptions among any position. He has 1,149 career receptions, 13,338 yards and 95 touchdowns.

The Chiefs kick off against the Falcons on Sunday at noon CT on Fox.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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Falcons Vs. Chiefs Odds: Kansas City A 2.5-Point Underdog

The Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons open their seasons Sunday against each other, and oddsmakers are giving the Falcons a slight nod. Atlanta is a 2.5-point favorite in the game at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

Sunday will begin the Chiefs' first full season under coach Romeo Crennel, who replaced Todd Haley 13 games into last season.

It seems the key to Crennel's hopes Sunday would be in an improved run game against what was a stout rushing defense in 2011. Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles spent much of last season sidelined with an injury, and Kansas City ranked 28th in the league in yards per carry, while Atlanta gave up the sixth-fewest rushing yards in the league.

Charles is now healthy, and the Chiefs signed Peyton Hillis during the offseason to bolster their rushing attack. How Atlanta handles those two will likely determine the outcome of Sunday's game.

Oddsmakers also set the game's over/under at 42.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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Chiefs Vs. Falcons: Atlanta's Mike Smith Keeping Secrets Before Opener

If Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith knows who he's starting in Sunday's season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, he's not telling anyone.

Smith pre-empted any questions about personnel at a Monday media availability in the interest of secrecy. According to Jay Adams' blog at atlantafalcons.com:

"Have we decided on who's going to be the starting (right) guard, and who's going to start at the corner position?" Smith asked rhetorically. "Come to the game on Sunday and see. We're not going to discuss it, simply because I don't want to give a competitive advantage to our opponent."

One major question for which the Chiefs cannot prepare is which Falcon will be returning Dustin Colquitt's punts. Dominique Franks was cut Friday, and he was the Falcons' primary punt returner during the preseason. It seemed he had the inside track to replace Eric Weems, who was the only player to return a punt for the Falcons last year. Weems signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

Smith said he has three players in mind to return a punt Sunday. Who ultimately trots out Sunday is anyone's guess. As Smith said, come to the game on Sunday and see.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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Chiefs Have Second Most Salary Cap Space In NFL

The Kansas City Chiefs have the second-most amount of salary cap space in the NFL, according to Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.

Florio's entire list can be found here. His calculation was made as such:

...based on the top 51 cap numbers for all players under contract. The calculation converts to entire 53-man roster plus all players on injured reserve and other reserve lists at the launch of the regular season.

The Chiefs have $26.6 million available under the salary cap, which only the Jaguars have topped at $28.7 million.

The number can be seen as a relative competitive advantage moving forward; the Chiefs have money to absorb in trades or free agency that, say, AFC West rival San Diego doesn't have at just $4.1 million under the cap. The Denver Broncos are $11.1 million under the cap, and the Oakland Raiders are $6 million under.

The Chiefs open their season Sunday at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The game kicks off at noon CT on Fox.

Read more on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Pride and SB Nation Kansas City. Head over to our NFL hub page for additional news and analysis around the league.

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