In this series, I'll break down one position-specific battle I expect the Falcons to exploit in the upcoming game. This week we're tackling the Chiefs' injury-ridden and precarious pass defense versus our new-and-improved vertical attack.
As we know, Dirk Koetter is all about the vertical attack. Koetter is to the vertical attack as Dave is to canned cheese. And don't get it twisted, the vertical attack will be in full effect this Sunday. We'll look to exploit a questionable pass defense and they'll look to resemble a professional sports franchise.
Brandon Flowers didn't practice much this week, and he's listed as questionable. Jalil Brown (Flowers' backup) is also listed as questionable. Their premier pass rusher (Tamba Hali) is suspended. Starting safety Kendrick Lewis is out. One word: Yikes!
Javier Arenas and Stanford Routt - their other corners - are healthy, but if Flowers and Brown are out or playing at less than 100 percent, then Koetter will surely look to take advantage. To be fair, Flowers has an infamous injury history; he's used to playing hurt. Still, Hali makes up the majority of their pass rush, and they'll be very thin at DB.
The Chiefs had a decidedly mediocre pass defense last year. It ranked 13th in the league, and they were just slightly above average (0.3 percent more efficient than league-average). They're not going to lock us down, that's for sure.
Their defensive backs actually excelled against #1 WRs. Opposing #1 WRs managed only 41.9 yards a game. In fact, their DVOA against #1 WRs was 31.9 percent more efficient than league-average.
But lucky us! They fell off significantly against #2 WRs. Against #2 WRs, they were less efficient than league-average. Our one two punch is formidable, to say the least, and Koetter obviously knows that. He knows he can exploit that, especially given the Chiefs' injury report. Don't get me wrong, players progress, teams change, schemes change, stuff happens, et cetera. But if their recent history is any indication, our new and improved passing game should stack up.
It could be a very bad week for the Chiefs defense. But in particular, look for us to exploit their pass defense as much as possible.
As always, I'm curious what y'all think. Ready? Set? Discuss!