Chief Concern: Falcons Defensive Line Has Talent

Ask most fans of the NFL what comes to mind when they talk about the Atlanta Falcons and the most common answer is Michael Vick. But this year's Falcons have started the season 5-1 not only because of Atlanta's prodigiously talented quarterback, they also own the top-rated rushing defense in the league. The Atlanta Falcons defensive line and linebackers have played at an exceptionally high level in 2004.

Tuesday afternoon I asked Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil about the Falcons Defensive Line and their role in Atlanta's fast start, "They run, they can all run. They play with a tremendous amount of energy that we try to play with. Jim Mora, Jr. can transmit energy to people and that's what he's doing. He did that for the 49ers in San Francisco as their Defensive Coordinator," Vermeil said.

Falcons first-year head coach Jim Mora has implemented a 4-3 defense in Atlanta. Patrick Kerney has tallied seven sacks this season, tying him for second most in the NFL. Along with his teammates, Kerney is making the transition back to a conventional defensive end in the new 4-3 scheme after playing the last two seasons as a tackle in the 3-4 alignment.

Last Sunday, in a win against the Chargers, Kerney displayed his versatility when he moved inside to play tackle. "I've pretty much been a defensive tackle for the past two years in the 3-4. That's one of the benefits from playing in the 3-4. I'm comfortable rushing from a three-technique now. I did it so much for the past two years, it's no big challenge for me to go down there."

Starting alongside Kerney is Defensive Tackle Rod Coleman, a versatile lineman who has played both defensive tackle and end positions during a five-year stint with Raiders. Tackle, Ed Jasper and Defensive End, Brady Smith are durable veterans who are having excellent seasons.

Anchoring the linebacker corps is perennial Pro Bowl linebacker, Keith Brooking. While manning the weak-side, Brooking has amassed the most tackles in the NFL over the past three years. He leads the Falcons with 48 this season.

The bottom line is together, Atlanta's front seven has devastated their opponents running game each week. What does this mean for Priest Holmes and the Chiefs this Sunday? Holmes is such and elite runner that that he is liable to run for 150 yards and a couple of touchdowns on anyone in the league. He torched Denver for three touchdowns and 151 rushing yards in Kansas City's Week One loss. Denver owns the second-best rushing defense in the NFL after week six.

Expect Willie Roaf and John Welbourn to lead the way for Priest Holmes to rack up another big day.

Trent Green has been sacked eight times over the last two games. Green must do a better job of getting rid of the ball quicker to avoid taking a loss.

Though the defense is a high level of concern considering the Falcons rushing defense is tops, but I give the edge to Priest Holmes and the Chiefs offensive line against any defense today.

Mid-Week Prediction: Chiefs 21 - Falcons 20 Top Stories