It is fascinating to see the Kansas City Chiefs franchise embedded in ongoing success. They proved last season that they are capable of doing such great things with a young nucleus on offense and an offensive minded head coach that was still battling postseason ghosts of his previous tenure in Philadelphia.
In week 16, the Atlanta Falcons are now assigned to take on the uber-talented Chiefs that have home field advantage in the playoffs in their sights. At this period of the season, the Falcons are limping into a matchup against arguably the best team in the NFL. If you recall on last season, the Falcons battled the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers on the road in week 15. With a pinch of luck, they walked out of Levi’s Stadium last year with a win over the Niners.
It will take that amount of effort and more to take down the Chiefs on the road in this season. So let’s breakdown this week 16 encounter.
About their opponent
The Chiefs have not lost a game since early October which came against their division rival Las Vegas Raiders. Since that week five defeat, the Chiefs have won their last nine games which included a road win last week against the New Orleans Saints. In that win, quarterback Patrick Mahomes produced a three touchdown, zero interception performance while the Chiefs offense held the ball for over 41 minutes of game time en-route to their victory.
Falcons defensive line vs. Chiefs offensive line - The Chiefs possess an overall solid offensive line that is severely overshadowed by the amount of talent the team has at the skill positions. But if you dig hard enough, you will see plenty of evidence as to why the Kansas City offensive line is one of the better units in the league. The Chiefs are 10th in the NFL in sacks allowed this season with just 23.
The Chiefs also have totaled 1,007 rushing yards before contact this season which is 12th in the league. That statistic is also a feather in the cap for the offensive line. While helping lead a solid run game and protecting the franchise in Mahomes, the Chiefs offensive line is a tall task for the Falcons. Sure, the Falcons are one of the better run defenses in the league, but if the Falcons are unable to sack Patrick Mahomes, they will find themselves in a hole early that will likely be impossible to climb out of.
Atlanta Falcons vs. themselves - I know, you know, and every single person that is tied to the NFL somehow knows how elite the Kansas City Chiefs are. The odds are completely against the Falcons in this one thanks to being shorthanded and simply facing a team that is overall better. But for the Falcons to pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, they will have to play flawlessly.
Penalties, committing turnovers, sloppy tackling on defense, poor communication on defense are all factors that must not show up today for the Falcons. Winning on offense on third downs as well as the turnover margin in last year’s matchup with the 49ers were two huge components that aided the Falcons to pulling off the upset win. This is a well coached and focused Chiefs team. Making things easier for the defending champs is something that does not need to occur, but of course we worry it will.
The passing game for the Chiefs is arguably the best pure offensive element in the entire NFL. With the precise arm talent of Mahomes and the plethora of pass catchers from Tyreek Hill to Mecole Hardman to Travis Kelce, the passing game for the Chiefs is deadly and can devastate any defense.
The Chiefs are the league leaders in yards after catch (2,096) as well as lead the league in broken tackles forced (35). On the other side of the line of scrimmage is a Falcons defense that is second in the league in yards after catch allowed (1,910). The big plays from the Chiefs will likely be an occurrence, but the Falcons defense needs to do the necessary tasks to prevent productive plays from becoming massive chunk plays that may eventually put the game out of reach.
The Falcons are walking into the lion’s den in week 15. This is a Chiefs team that is focused, motivated, and playing as if they are attempting to send a message across the league. Of course, at this point of the season, the Falcons are not playing for much. With the season drawing to a conclusion in a few weeks, the front office for the Falcons is truly taking a look at which players are still playing hard and wanting to win.
That type of evaluation can go a long way in an offseason that is sure to see plenty of turnover for this team. The cards are stacked against the Falcons and quite honestly, it’s tough to see which Falcons team we will see on Sunday.