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What to know about Falcons vs. Chiefs in Week 16, or, preparing for a bloodbath

Atlanta’s going up against the #1 seed in the AFC on the road and that doesn’t promise to be pretty.

Kansas City Chiefs v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Falcons are not a good team, and right now, they’re also a reeling team. They’ve lost three in a row, all sealed in the final minutes, against the suddenly scuffling Saints, the lousy Chargers, and the capable Buccaneers. As bad as those losses have been, Atlanta is riding that three game skid into their toughest matchup of the entire year.

The 13-1 Chiefs are one of the 2-3 best teams in football, if not the obvious best, and they’re at home playing to lock up the #1 seed in the AFC. The Falcons are 4-10, reeling, and the offensive coordinator might be getting snippy with the head coach for installing Ito Smith as the starting running back. I generally can find some small reason to believe Atlanta stands a chance in a given week, but I got absolutely nothing this time out.

The show must go on, though, so let’s preview the Week 16 matchup ahead.

Head-to-head comparison

The Falcons have a better run defense, statistically, than the Chiefs. That is their sole advantage this week, and it’s not exactly the most inspiring one.

Week 16 Comparison

Team Record Points For Yardage For Passing Yards Rushing Yards Points Against Yardage Against Passing Yards Against Rushing Yardage Against Turnovers Giveaways
Team Record Points For Yardage For Passing Yards Rushing Yards Points Against Yardage Against Passing Yards Against Rushing Yardage Against Turnovers Giveaways
Falcons 4-10 15 14 4 28 18 28 31 9 15 7
Chiefs 13-1 2 1 1 14 8 15 10 21 5 4

The Chiefs are an unstoppable juggernaut. On his worst weeks, Patrick Mahomes casually chucks three touchdowns and does things no other human being can do on the football field. Their defense is pretty good, their ground game is pretty effective, and there are no weaknesses that aren’t easily overcome by having a passing game that can grind even great secondaries to dust. The Falcons are 31st overall in passing yardage allowed, and even with their recent improvement, they are probably going to be toast against this Chiefs team.

Atlanta did at least put together an improved offensive effort against the Buccaneers, giving some hope they can make this a competitive game against the Chiefs. I’m not going to go any further than that because it simply doesn’t seem wise to do so.

How the Chiefs have changed since the last time

The last time the Falcons played Kansas City, Alex Smith was at the helm of the offense, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a distant glimmer in this team’s backfield, and they were still heavily reliant on Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The defense still featured players like Dontari Poe, Eric Berry, and Frank Zombo, all of whom are now gone.

Since then, Kansas City has added Mahomes and more team speed to the offense between players like Mecole Hardman, CEH, and Demarcus Robinson. They’ve beefed up their secondary with capable draft picks like L’Jarius Sneed and Juan Thornhill and added talent to the defensive front with Breeland Speaks and Derek Nnadi, though the defense has not become elite with those additions. Basically, Kansas City is like the 2012 and 2016 Falcons on steroids, in that their defense is looking to cause turnovers and play well enough to keep the offense in it, and the offense is hoping to bludgeon you to death regardless of how well the D performs.

That’s a familiar formula for the Falcon, but not an easy one to overcome.

What you need to know

I’m not going to belabor an unfortunate point, but you need to steel yourself for a bloodbath. The Falcons offense would need to be spectacular to win this game and the defense would need to play at peak level, and even that might not be enough if the Chiefs are properly motivated to win this one.

Chances are good Atlanta is going to make this closer than they should—that’s just what they do—but if Kansas City doesn’t win by double digits it’ll be a true surprise. Get your chosen libations and/or distractions together for this one and prepare for it to be ugly, because it probably will be.