Your 8-3 Kansas City Chiefs just defeated the Super Bowl champs, but they’ll be the underdogs again today. According to Oddsshark.com, the 7-4 Atlanta Falcons need four or five points to cover the spread at the Georgia Dome this week. As I did my homework for this important meeting between two playoff teams, a trend quickly made itself apparent; the reasons why KC “should” lose this game all boil down to the coaching staff.
The Chiefs need a plan to limit Julio Jones’ effectiveness, but local media won’t let me forget that Bob Sutton’s defense never changes. Marcus Peters can shut down half the field on most plays while Jones lines up and attacks whichever part of the field the Falcons prefer at the moment. Atlanta is the league’s worst passing defense, yet we all know about Andy Reid’s stubborn and sometimes-stupefying play-calling on offense. That’s not to mention our struggling franchise QB. Then we have the injuries to not only the team’s best receiver but also one of history’s best running backs. It’s hard to pick the Chiefs to win this week. I’m still doing it.
KC’s stellar defense matches up today against the highest-scoring team in football, as KC’s recently-ugly offense faces a mediocre Atlanta defense. Last week, the Chiefs took an injury-riddled defense to Denver and won against one of this era’s greatest defenses. KC played a ridiculously incomplete football game and still managed to beat the Super Bowl champs at their house. The Chiefs needed all the tremendous help they got from the special teams and defense in order to win last week, but there’s reason to believe they’ll have more game-changing moments going forward.
Leading the league in turnover differential is not a fluky way to a winning record when those turnovers are clearly caused by a certain defensive strategy. Peters won’t stop jumping routes for picks, even if it means he gets burnt for it on occasion. A healthy combination of Justin Houston and Dee Ford, with some Tamba Hali sprinkled in, should consistently provide enough pressure to force mistakes from opposing QB’s. It’s simple when you read it here, sure, but Bob Sutton’s job is to complicate things for the coaching staff on the opposite sideline. Numerous game-changing moments like Eric Berry’s pick-six in Carolina prove that Sutton is doing so successfully. Maybe, to an extent, he doesn’t change the defense up because he shouldn’t.
The numbers indicate that Julio Jones can catch roughly a thousand passes today and still not ensure victory for Atlanta. Denver’s Emmanuel Sanders beat up on Phillip “now synonymous with toast” Gaines and the rest of the Chiefs secondary for 162 yards last week. You may remember that Denver was unable to win that game. Oakland’s Amari Cooper caught 10 passes for 129 yards while KC destroyed the Raiders in Week 6. Saints receiver Michael Thomas had virtually the same numbers against the Chiefs while KC handled New Orleans in Week 7. When a good receiver gets hot against the Chiefs, he’ll make his fantasy football owners happy, but it doesn’t spell disaster for Kansas City.
I know it undoubtedly sounds cliché, but the league-leading +14 turnover differential for your Kansas City Chiefs is a huge part of their identity, and a huge part of why they can win today. Especially after I described a team without an identity earlier this season, not mentioning turnovers would be simultaneously unsound as a journalist and stupid as a Chiefs fan trying to predict the outcome of this huge game.
The realistic chance of a KC win should give all Chiefs fans good vibes today, especially since this is the most “okay-to-lose” game of the season. It’s only a 16-game regular season, so there is never a loss that doesn’t sting, but you know what I’m sayin’.
Once I get another real writing gig, I’ll never get the chance to end a paragraph with “you know what I’m sayin’” again, so I’ll just leave it at that. Chiefs win another thriller, 26-23, and my emotional hangover continues.