The Kansas City Chiefs clinched the top seed in the AFC with a close win over the Atlanta Falcons, in large part because of their improved defensive play.
The Kansas City Chiefs are officially the top seed in the AFC. The Chiefs squeaked out yet another close win, this time against the Atlanta Falcons. The Chiefs 17-14 win on Sunday may not have been pretty, but that has become a regular occurrence this season. We could spend another week breaking down what went wrong, but the bottom line is that the Chiefs are now 14-1 on the season. The Chiefs offense may have put up the lowest point total of the season, but this is an offense that we all believe in come playoff time. The bigger story here may be the defense peaking at just the right time.
It would be easy to write off a solid defensive performance in this game as simply being the result of playing a 4-11 Falcons team. However, I believe if you look a little deeper, there are some real reasons to feel good about this defense heading into the playoffs. We don’t know what next week will bring, or if we’ll get to see the actual starting defense again during the regular season. So let’s look at just what they did this week and why K.C. fans should feel good about where they are trending.
First, while the Atlanta Falcons don’t have a great record, they haven’t had many games like Sunday’s performance in terms of scoring and protecting Matt Ryan. The Falcons entered the game on Sunday averaging a respectable 25.4 points per game despite their losing record. Their 14 points scored on Sunday was their second lowest total of the season. Only a 9 point performance against the New Orleans Saints was worse. The four sacks allowed to the Chiefs was tied for the second most they allowed in a game this season as well.
For the Chiefs, the 14 points allowed was the third lowest total allowed this season behind the 9 points allowed against the New York Jets and 10 points allowed against the New England Patriots, who didn’t have Cam Newton. The difference being that both the Patriots and Jets are near the bottom of the league in scoring, which isn’t the case for the Falcons.
If we look at the big picture for this defense going forward, I believe there are three things that this game highlighted that are very good signs for the Chiefs going forward. In fact, if you look inside the numbers over the last three games, I think you can see a trend in all three areas. Let’s start by talking about the emergence of a quartet of Chiefs rookies that are contributing on defense.