FLOWERY BRANCH — Matt Cassel, the one-time backup to the great Tom Brady, has posted an 18-21 record in three seasons with the Chiefs.
He guided them to the AFC West title in 2010, but he played in only nine games last season because of injury. He’s the X-factor when the Falcons face the Chiefs at 1 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“He’s taken us to the playoffs before, and we anticipate that he will be ready and able to do that again,” Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said. “He’s got some talent and he’s learned the new system.”
The Falcons have some inside information on Cassel.
Cornerback Asante Samuel was with New England along with Cassel for three seasons (2005-07).
“He has developed well,” Samuel said. “When I was in New England he was running the scout team most of the time.”
Samuel may talk a lot, but he’s film student of the game. He said it’s hard to read Cassel, who does a good job of not tipping off where he’s throwing his passes.
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan faced Cassel twice in 2009 when he was Denver’s defensive coordinator.
“He’s a very competitive player,” Nolan said. “I’ve played him several times over the years. He’s always been a guy that you have to be really detailed and prepared for. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
Cassel started nine games last season. He was placed on injured reserve Nov. 21 after suffering a hand injury.
He expects the Falcons will show multiple fronts and try to disguise their blitzes.
“One thing that shows up to me is they play with a tremendous amount of speed,” Cassel said. “They get to the football. They’re aggressive. They have a great group out there.”
Cassel has some dangerous receivers in Dwayne Bowe, Jon Baldwin and Dexter McCluster.
“We’ve got the potential to do some good things, but at the same time it’s got to come together on Sunday,” Cassel said.
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