NFC Game Of The Week
Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) at Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
Chiefs: After what I saw them do in Denver, I became more of a believer in them now than I have been for most of the season. I think they’re a great football team and I think this is the only team in the AFC that can hang with the New England Patriots and I’ll explain why I feel this way. They can control the clock with their running game and win the time of possession battle, their receivers outside of Travis Kelce can make some big catches when it matters (the go-ahead touchdown in Denver showed me that) and on defense, they are fast, aggressive and physical and with Justin Houston back in the mix on the field, they have the guy that generates their pass rush and he’s also their best defensive player. We can’t forget Tamba Hali on the other side of Justin and they have a great run stopper in Dontari Poe in the middle of that defensive line. Outside of the front seven, they have a great secondary. Marcus Peters to me is slowly becoming an elite corner and Eric Berry is the heart and soul of this entire football team. What I enjoy about the Kansas City Chiefs is their style of football. They aren’t fancy at all. They run the ball downhill, Alex Smith can move the pocket and make throws on the run and they move the football down the field very efficiently. Now, they are still in the hunt for the division crown and December starts them off with a big inter-conference game in Atlanta.
Falcons: It’s become a two-team race in the NFC South between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. This may be the best I’ve seen Matt Ryan ever look and if you really study the film of the Falcons offense this year, he’s made much smarter choices with the football and the offensive line has been able to protect him along with him having the time to stand tall in the pocket and get the football down the field. The biggest improvement has been their ability to spread the football around to everyone on this offense and not just be predictable in targeting Julio Jones always. Last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals was a perfect example of that. Julio, as we all know, is one of the top receivers in football and he’s leading the league once again in receiving yards. Last week, he caught only four passes for 35 yards and when he has fewer than 35 yards receiving, the Falcons have been 4-0 so them making it a point of emphasis to include everyone in the mix has paid off. This also has to do with number 11 demanding so much attention so that simply allows other receivers to see single man coverage opportunities across the board. Their defense has also improved in some ways, but I still have a hard time trusting them because they can look lights out one week and then give up over 30 points the next. They held a pretty good offense last week to only 19 points and if they can continue to play at that high level, they will be a very tough group to beat.
Chiefs Player(s) To Watch: The Offensive Line– They gave up six sacks on Sunday night in Denver and coming into this one, they can’t afford to underestimate the Falcons pass rush. It may not be as consistent as some of the others in the league, but they are probably studying the film and looking for ways to get to Smith. These five need to bounce back and show better protection.
Falcons Player To Watch: Taylor Gabriel– I remember the days when this used to be one dimensional with a terrible offensive line. Not anymore and this guy has put together a really nice season for the Falcons. He’s a 5’8 receiver that’s more than capable of going over the middle to make the catch and taking it to the house for six points. He has great speed and he’s just another added weapon for Matt Ryan.
Prediction: These are the match ups you love to watch. Potent offense facing a physical defense and we’ll be in for a treat with this one. I like the Falcons in the dome. Falcons 31 Chiefs 21