Thanks to Dave over at SB Nation’s Falcons blog, The Falcoholic, for answering our Chiefs-Falcons questions. Find our Q&A below.
Why should Matt Ryan be the MVP?
Falcoholic: Great question, my friend. I have three good reasons for you:
1) He's not Tom Brady.
2) He's putting together the most successful season of his career and is running the most effective offense in the NFL with very few mistakes and a ton of eye-popping numbers. He's had a great supporting cast and Kyle Shanahan has done a nice job with his scheming, but you don't get these results with Alex Smith (sorry) or Joe Flacco at the helm. Ryan is simply one of the better quarterbacks working today, and he's finally in a situation that maximizes what he brings to the table.
3) Again, he's not Tom Brady.
The Chiefs will want to run the ball. What can we expect out of the Falcons run defense?
Falcoholic: I'm not expecting a ton, truthfully. The Falcons did a reasonable job with David Johnson last week, but that was partially because the Cardinals were forced to move away from the run after falling behind, and partly because they simply didn't commit to it.
The Falcons have a lot of problems up front right now, and a quality offensive line and physical running back and can take advantage of those issues and go right up the gut successfully. I anticipate Kansas City will run a lot, and that it will work.
The Chiefs pass rush is key. Will the Falcons be able to stop Justin Houston?
Falcoholic: Yes and no. They won't be able to hold someone as good as Houston in check for an entire game, and we know that, but they have been able to slow them down enough for the kind of quick passes Kyle Shanahan favors to get into the air and to the team's myriad receiving threats. That and a strong ground game may help keep Ryan safe, but even a strong pass blocking offensive line is going to scuffle. Against Ryan Schraeder, who has had several tough matchups this year, he'll probably eat.
If the Falcons scuffle early, or they attempt to take too many deep shots, Houston is going to wreak his share of havoc. That's unavoidable.
How are the Chiefs supposed to stop Julio Jones?
Falcoholic: You can't, really. The best way to hold Julio in check is to put a quality cornerback on him (which you have), give him quality safety help (which you also have), and supplement that with a strong pass rush (hey, what do you know) to keep Ryan from finding him. The only men who really stop Julio Jones, though, are Julio Jones himself (when he drops the ball) and Matt Ryan (when he looks elsewhere), but if you can limit the damage, you at least force the Falcons to look at less compelling options.
What's your score prediction?
Falcoholic: Call me crazy, but I think as good as the Chiefs are, asking them to keep up with this offense at home is a tall ask. The Atlanta Falcons are going to win this one, I believe, and while it'll likely be close throughout much of the game, I've got Atlanta by a score of 31-24. I keep waffling on whether this Atlanta team can score 30 against one of the league's better defenses, but in the end, I gotta be bold.