Chiefs opponent preview, Week 16: Scouting the Falcons

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Talon Graff
·5 min read
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The mission is simple for the Kansas City Chiefs this week, win against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16 and they are the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. A bye week is important for Kansas City to get healthier and gives them the best chance to get back to the Super Bowl.

Here is everything you need to know about the Falcons for Week 16:

Chiefs vs. Falcons History

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Kansas City and Atlanta have faced off nine times throughout history and the Chiefs have won all but three. In the years 2000, 2008, and 2012, the Falcons were victorious. Every other meeting has been K.C. that gets the win. The most recent encounter took place in 2016 and the Chiefs defeated the Falcons by one point 29 to 28. That would end up being the last loss Atlanta experienced that year before their infamous Super Bowl meltdown to the Patriots.

Marquee Additions / Losses

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Falcons Additions

  • HB Todd Gurley

  • WR Laquon Treadwell

  • TE Hayden Hurst

  • DE Dante Fowler

Falcons Losses

  • HB Devonta Freeman

  • TE Austin Hooper

  • DE Vic Beasley

  • DE Takkarist McKinley

Falcons Coaching Scheme

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Atlanta was coached by Dan Quinn from 2015 up until the Falcons dropped to 0-5 and Quinn was relieved of his duties. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris took over as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2020 season. Morris has an interesting coaching background that started at Hofstra. He earned his first NFL gig as the defensive quality control coach with the Buccaneers in 2002 and by 2006 he was the defensive coordinator at Kansas State. He returned to Tampa to be their defensive back coach in 2007 and then became their head coach in 2009 but kept the job for only two seasons. He has been with Atlanta since 2015 and received a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2020. Morris' background is mostly on the defensive side of the ball and has fine-tuned his secondary knowledge. Dirk Koetter was hired as the offensive coordinator for Atlanta in 2019 and he has been an OC dating back to 1985 when he served in that role for San Francisco State. He also was with the University of Missouri as the Tigers' play-caller from 1989 to 1993. This is his second stint with Atlanta as he was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons from 2012 to 2014. Koetter and the Atlanta staff like to run a balanced offense and utilize timing routes with their receivers. Jeff Ulbrich took over the defensive coordinator title when Raheem Morris became the interim head coach. Morris and Ulbrich instill zone cover schemes and switch between three-man and four-man fronts.

Key Players for the Falcons

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QB Matt Ryan

The former NFL MVP has been one of the better pocket passing quarterbacks in the NFL since entering the league in 2008. Ryan has been the Falcons starter since being drafted and so far in 2020, he has 4,016 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

WR Calvin Ridley

The former Alabama star receiver has exploded in his third professional season. He has secured his first 1,000-yard year with a total of 1,192 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Ridley has stepped up in a big way given the injury problems with fellow receiver Julio Jones in 2020 and leads the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.

DT Grady Jarrett

One of only two players for Atlanta to be named to the Pro Bowl is defensive tackle, Grady Jarrett. From his spot along the defensive line, Jarrett has four sacks, 48 tackles, and a fumble recovery. Jarrett is usually a candidate for double teams and with how banged up the Chiefs offensive line is, they must be ready to slow down Jarrett.

LB Deion Jones

The leader of the defensive unit is linebacker Deion Jones. He leads the team with four and a half sacks and he has added 94 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He has been able to deflect six passes on the season as well.

LB Foyesade Oluokun

The 2018 sixth-round draft choice from Yale has developed into an absolute stud for the Falcons defense. Leading the team in tackles with 104, Oluokun takes up enough attention that it opens up space for fellow LB Jones to utilize his athleticism and make plays. Oluokun has sacked the quarterback three and a half times, intercepted a pass, and forced four fumbles.

Key Matchups for Week 16

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Chiefs Offensive Line vs. Interior Defensive Line

Grady Jarrett is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league and the Chiefs will have their hands full with him. I expect double teams will be coming Jarrett's way all day from Kansas City in an attempt to open up running lanes while also keeping Mahomes upright.

Calvin Ridley vs. L'Jarius Sneed

Sneed has had a terrific rookie season and he should be tasked with lining up across from Ridley. Without Julio Jone, Ridley can be bracketed in coverage to try and contain the receiver who has eclipsed 100 receiving yards in three straight games.

Chiefs Running Game vs. Falcons Linebackers

Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will not suit up against the Falcons so Le'Veon Bell and Darrell Williams will be handling the carries for Kansas City. Given how Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun have been playing in 2020, this will be a key matchup.

Overview

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The Chiefs are playing for much more than Atlanta and on paper, this looks like it should be a blowout. However, even though the Falcons have only won four games, they have been competitive in almost all of their contests. The late-game meltdowns have plagued this NFC South team all season long and now that Kansas City is one win away from the top seed in the playoffs, expect to see a focused and determined Chiefs team.