The big win in Denver sets the table. Now Chiefs need to let the big dogs eat.
Coming off an emotional win at Sports Authority Field last week, the stage is set. As the Chiefs get ready for the final 5 regular season weeks, they face solid competition including one game against every other AFC West team. The defense that squeaked by the Broncos with physicality and some bad plays is getting some much-needed injured players returning.
First up, Atlanta presents a challenge with their high-powered passing game. They start a guy named Julio Jones. You might have heard of him. He leads the league in receiving yards. Jones isn’t alone, though. The Falcons have the #3 offense in the NFL in both total yards and passing yards. They have dynamic targets in Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, and the elusive running back Tevin Coleman.
KANSAS CITY, MO – NOVEMBER 06: Linebacker Dee Ford
The Chiefs secondary struggled in Denver, giving up 368 yards passing to Trevor Siemian. Philip Gaines had three big passes go against him including the nearly-comical lob to Fowler that Gaines lost track of. It was rough for gains, but lost in the flow of the game is the fact he also led the team in passes broken up. Look for him to try to rebound against the Falcons.
For Atlanta, it appears the secondary will get some reinforcement in the form of Steven Nelson who practiced on Wednesday. Nelson has quietly improved this season and will be a boon against Jones and Sanu. Nelson is second on the team with 10 passes defensed. He’s second only to Marcus Peters.
The Chiefs also got Dee Ford back to start this week’s practice. Ford is still tied for second in the league in sacks with ten. the success of the secondary may be dependent on how well the pass rush trio of Houston, Ford, and Hali can get to Matt Ryan.
We dug into the mechanics of the what is bringing Kansas City success with Pro Football Focus’ Senior Analyst Mike Renner this week. Here’s the show:
This offense needs to be challenged. They’ve shown they don’t fold under pressure, but revel in it. After the methodical, conservative passing game of the first 57 minutes versus the Broncos, something changed. It wasn’t just the hurry-up desperation to try and tie the ballgame. Not just the more aggressive calls.
The offense got smoother as it got more aggressive. It found a rhythm. The passing offense looked as good at that point as the running offense did against Oakland. The tempo is something they can build on.
That was without the number one receiving threat on the field. Jeremy Maclin is back at practice Wednesday and could be ready to play the Falcons. Tyreek Hill stepped up admirably in Maclin’s absence. Smith looked for him. Reid called plays for him. With Maclin back to demand coverage, this passing offense can take a leap forward. If it continues, the pass will open up room for the run and make this offense deadly.
Reid has seen examples of how his offense can deliver. If it can consistently play aggressive and with tempo, this offense can rival any team they’re likely to see in the postseason. They will need it to close out the season with an AFC West title. They’ll need it more with a possible playoff contest versus New England.