When the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday, both teams will be playing for different rewards. On one hand, the defending champs secure the AFC’s number one seed and home field advantage with a win this week. Getting healthier all around is also another top priority. Meanwhile, the Falcons are trying to help interim head coach Raheem Morris‘ case to become the permanent head guy.
A lot of the discussion around Kansas City is that they are not winning games comfortably. Some of that is sincere. However, you have to know that head coach Andy Reid is saving up some special tricks for the playoffs. The Chiefs have also faced a good share of playoff caliber teams capable of making a run. With all that in mind, we will discuss ways in which both the Chiefs or Falcons could emerge victorious on Sunday. Here are our keys to victory for both teams before kickoff. Let’s get is started!
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Kansas City- 3 Keys To Victory
1) Get Running Backs Rolling Early
Now that Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be out with an injury, Le’Veon Bell will assume a larger role. The veteran has grown more and more comfortable in the Chiefs offense. He is learning how the blocking schemes are set up and is adjusting to the pace of the game plan. Over the last three games, Bell has responded well to the opportunities awarded to him. That was especially true in last week’s game against New Orleans. That was even the case before CEH got hurt.
His vision and powerful running (at times), has been too difficult for defenders. One on one tackle attempts are just not getting it done right now. Bell is not the only one capable of having a strong day against the Falcons either. Darrel Williams can win with a tough, hard nosed running style. In addition, he has been the guy mostly called upon in obvious passing situations on third and long. It would be wise for the Chiefs to get both rolling early in this game, in order to open their endless possibilities of putting up points for later.
2) Bring Extra Pressure
An opposing Atlanta Falcons offensive line has been improved this season. Recent draft picks like Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary have shown that they can hold their jobs down and have taken steps forward in their improvement. But at the same time, there has still limitations and up and down play.
Atlanta enters the week having allowed 36 sacks on the season. That is tied for the ninth most allowed in the NFL. Lately, the Kansas City Chiefs have done a better job of getting consistent pressure by rushing four. Depending on who is in or out of the lineup due to injury on Sunday, it is possible that KC’s defense could bring increased blitz calls. This tactic would also limit the chances for Matt Ryan to take deep shots, which he does a better job of than most.
3) Eliminate Calvin Ridley
Wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) is looking like a game time decision. He has missed a handful of games this season. As a result, the Chiefs defensive backs may have to be most aware of Calvin Ridley. The Alabama product brings a good deal of speed to the field. However, his suddenness in route running and body control at the catch point are the finer points that make him one of the better young receivers. This Kansas City secondary has been playing extremely well throughout the season. Mainly, Bashaud Breeland and L’Jarius Sneed have been locking down opposing receivers, making things look easy. Both may have chances to matchup with Ridley. And if both are able to continue their dominant level of play, it may be a long day for the Atlanta offense.
Atlanta- 3 Keys To Victory
1) Take Chances Downfield
We mentioned this last week, and we will say it again. If you cannot test the Chiefs defenders deep, they will become too comfortable. The man coverage looks run by Kansas City has been stout. Again, Ryan has the accuracy and touch to connect deep all game long. Knowing the Falcons have that at their disposal, they must be willing to use it as much as possible. As well as Breeland, Sneed, Tyrann Mathieu and Charvarius Ward are playing on the backend, guys like Ridley, Hayden Hurst and Russell Gage have been hot lately. Atlanta has to be able to push it deep in order to keep up with the Chiefs offense.
2) Find Offensive Balance
The ability to find any sort of balance on offense is important against Patrick Mahomes and Co. Regardless of the opponent, Atlanta is hoping to build a more solid presence in the running game. Todd Gurley is no longer the starting running back. He is on pace to set or tie career lows in many categories. Coach Morris has named Ito Smith the new starting ball carrier. While he may be small in stature, Smith is a physical runner. On plays that are run on the inside, the Kansas City Chiefs must be able to tackle as well as they have over the last few games. The Falcons cannot win this game with simple drop back passes on every play.
3) Double The Cheetah
Literally no one in the league can keep up with Tyreek Hill. And that is not going to change this Sunday. Atlanta’s struggles of building a shutdown secondary has been well documented. Only two Falcons cornerbacks currently have allowed a completion percentage of less than 70% (Darqueze Dennard and Blidi Wreh-Wilson). Knowing their limitations on the outside, one would think that Atlanta would want to keep plays in the middle of the field. They may not be able to slow down all of Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and more. But, number ten in red and gold is the one who could do the most damage to how the Falcons are built.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.