Atlanta @ Kansas City
Recommended Wager: ATL +10.5
Sizing: 1 unit
Atlanta Falcons: (Week 10 bye)
-WR Julio Jones (hamstring) was INACTIVE week 15 after missing practice all week. This is a lingering issue for Jones. He did not practice Wednesday.
-LG James Carpenter (groin) was injured week 15. He did not practice Wednesday.
-C Alex Mack (concussion) was injured week 15. He did not practice Wednesday.
-CB Darqueze Dennard (quad) was INACTIVE week 15 after missing practice all week. He did not practice Wednesday.
-S Ricardo Allen (concussion) was injured week 13 and INACTIVE weeks 14 and 15. He was limited in practice Wednesday.
IR: WR Olamide Zaccheaus (toe), S Damontae Kazee (Achilles)
Kansas City Chiefs: (Week 10 bye)
-RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) was injured week 15. He is expected to miss the rest of the season and could potentially return for the playoffs.
-RT Mike Remmers (back/neck) was injured week 14 and INACTIVE week 15 after not practicing all week.
-LB Damien Wilson (knee) was INACTTIVE weeks 14 and 15. He has not practiced since the injury.
IR: RB Damien Williams (opt out), G Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (opt out), RT Mitchell Schwartz (back), LG Kelechi Osemele (knee – season ending), DE Taco Charlton (leg)
Spread watching: The line is still at 10.5 with a ridiculously high total of 54.
The Falcons offense (21st in DVOA/16th in EPA/play) matches up fairly evenly against the Chiefs defense (17th in DVOA and 16th in EPA/play). Matt Ryan is sitting at 10th in PFF grades (84.0), he’s completing 64.2% of his passes and gaining 7.3 yards per attempt. His supporting cast will likely be without Julio Jones, who has been dealing with lingering hamstring issues all season. With the Falcons officially eliminated from playoff contention, my guess is Atlanta decides to shut down their star receiver for the year. Even without Jones, Ryan still has Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and Hayden Hurst as weapons to work with. The offensive line is also solid — I’m not particular concerned about losing LG James Carpenter (groin) since he’s a replacement level guard, however, if Alex Mack (concussion) can’t go, that hurts a bit more. Mack’s concussion injury is a surprise as he played every snap last week. The Chiefs defense does have solid depth at corner, but they don’t have any stars either. Chris Jones is one of the best interior pass rushers in football, but outside of that, there’s weaknesses at every other position. It’s also worth nothing that the Chiefs are much better vs the pass (13th in DVOA) then the run (30th). This style suits them since they have Patrick god damn Mahomes on the other side — if he’s dropping TD passes left and right, the other team won’t have time to try to take advantage of the Chiefs poor run defense.
I don’t think we need to spend a ton of time going over the Chiefs offense (1st in DVOA, 3rd in EPA/play). They’re reliant on Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill, and Andy Reid’s brilliant play-calling. The offensive line is a bit of a weak point without RT Mitchell Schwartz (back), but when you have that much fire power at key positions it really doesn’t matter. The expectation should be that they’ll get the better of whatever offense they’re facing — last week, they dropped 34 on the Saints defense, which is second in DVOA. They’ll be without rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle), but if you’re a smart reader you already know that running backs don’t matter. The Falcons defense is underrated — they started out horrible and have faced the 7th toughest schedule of opposing defenses, but they’re up to 12th in DVOA on the season. The strength is their pass rush, lead by defensive tackle Grady Jarett (54 pressures this season). Dion Jones is also an excellent coverage linebacker — he’ll look to limit the effects on Le’Veon Bell’s receiving skills. The corners are weak, but if they can get back Ricardo Allen (concussion, already missed two games) they’ll have a decent safety tandem with Allen and Keanu Neal.