It may have been closer than many expected. But, the Kansas City Chiefs were able to secure the AFC’s number one seed on Sunday. With a 17-14 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Andy Reid‘s squad showed once again that they can win in multiple ways and that the depth of the Chiefs is as strong as anybody else’s across the NFL.
It was a refreshing feeling to see a mostly dominant performance from the defense. We will have more thoughts on what stood out there in many areas. Also, the running game proved they can grind out tough yards without first round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire being in the lineup. Coach Reid understands just how important Le’Veon Bell and Darrel Williams are to this team. With all of that in mind, let’s go ahead and get started with our three biggest takeaways from the Chiefs win.
- This Or That: Draft Wide Receiver Round 1 Or Later?
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Kadarius Toney
- This Or That: Eric Fisher Or Mitchell Schwartz?
- Staying Or Going: Chiefs 2021 Pending Free Agents
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Darius Stills
Pass Rush Power
It is one thing to get pressure while rushing four consistently. That is what the Chiefs defensive front was starting to show over the last few games. Yet, it is another thing when pressures/blitzes against the opposing quarterback are actually creating negative plays throughout the day.
Atlanta’s patty cake attempts up front left Matt Ryan with having to continuously make quick decisions. It was an extremely trying day for blockers like Matt Hennessy and Kaleb McGary. And it was evident that Ryan had no room to evade the pass rush. Not like he is a huge threat with his legs, though defenders were closing or waiting from any and all angles. Frank Clark had a sack where Ryan was forced to slide to his left. Number 55 caught the passer literally as easy you can, with Ryan stepping right into his rush path.
Having that kind of get off and being able to set the edges will continue to be important come playoff time. Alex Okafor and Tershawn Wharton made many plays where their pass rush led the ball carrier into the pursuit. Chris Jones and Mike Danna were able to show off their quickness and agility for players their size. And the special Steve Spagnuolo DB blitz calls mixed in just at the right time, also wreaked havoc. L’Jarius Sneed secured a sack for a second straight week. Furthermore, Tyrann Mathieu made life difficult on running backs in pass protection.
Youthful Players Prove They Can Be Reliable
The aforementioned Sneed, combined with Willie Gay are looking like a dynamic duo of draft picks. Sneed continues to keep receivers primarily locked down in coverage. His speed is an asset on the backend, that not many teams can say they have, especially in the slot. Meanwhile, Gay continues to feel more comfortable in his role. The closing speed and quickness he has when flying downhill is noticeable. Both 2020 draft picks flipped the momentum back to the Chiefs in a tight game by uniting to force a fumble on Brandon Powell.
In addition to Gay, the other young linebackers made crucial stops while being thrust into action. Darius Harris recovered that fumble for that takeaway when forced by the two rookies. He also played a whopping 50+ snaps and got better as the game when on. Elsewhere, Omari Cobb also did a fine job in a more limited opportunity. Two former UDFAs proved they can take on larger roles for the Chiefs.
Resilient Style Will Carry Chiefs In Playoffs
It was not a perfect performance, more so for the Kansas City offense on Sunday. An interception in the red zone from Patrick Mahomes was uncharacteristic. He continues to be smart with the football when needed though. And that happened plenty of times against Atlanta. Give credit to the Falcons, they guarded the Chiefs receivers fairly well during most of the contest. This forced Mahomes to have to throw it away or create even more with his legs. The struggling offensive line also led to more of those plays.
Blowing teams out is being looked at as the only way for the Chiefs to be labeled as successful or dangerous. However, they continue to win. Teams are doing a good job of hanging with them, but actually defeating the defending champs is a different story. The Chiefs are now 23-1 in their last 24 games.
Is the AFC playoff picture rather deep? Yes. Can Kansas City still improve in multiple areas? Yes. Nonetheless, this team has played the best with their backs against the wall, could still get healthier and have the ability to put the fear into opponents better than anyone.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs articles throughout the week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– 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.