Chiefs must deal with depleted defense

In the end, Brandon Flowers’ foot did not improve enough for him able to play in the Kansas City Chiefs’ opener against the pass-happy Atlanta Falcons.

Thus, the Chiefs will be without four defensive starters Sunday and with two starters who were listed as questionable on the injury report.

I picked the Chiefs to win the AFC West this season. I still stand by that pick, but today could be rough for the Chiefs playing with such a depleted defense against such a potent offense. The Chiefs must control the game clock with their stout running game featuring Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis.

There was hope Flowers could play after he practiced on a limited basis all week. Expect him to be able to play next week at Buffalo unless there is a setback, Jacques Reeves will replace Flowers.

Also out for the Chiefs’ defense are star pass-rusher Tamba Hali (one-game NFL suspension), safety Kendrick Lewis (shoulder) and nose tackle Anthony Toribio (ankle). First-round pick Dontari Poe, who improved steadily in the preseason, will start at nose tackle.

The Chiefs did get some good injury news. Linebackers Derrick Johnson (ankle) and Jovan Belcher (groin) are active. They were listed as questionable on the injury report.

In Other AFC West news:

  • CSN Bay Area reports the Raiders have decided on who will be their kick and punt returners Monday night.

  • The Broncos are wearing a ribbon on the back of their helmet that features the state flag. The ribbon is in remembrance of the victims of the July movie theater shooting in suburban Denver and the wild fires that ravaged the state this year.