Kansas City earned the most resounding win of the weekend with its 29-28 victory in Atlanta. In doing so, the Chiefs (9-3) displayed a big-play gear that they've lacked in recent seasons. Quarterback Alex Smith came into Week 13 having thrown just 22 passes of at least 20 yards on the season. He had five against the Falcons, including three to tight end Travis Kelce.
Smith had an extremely efficient day, as he connected on 21 of 25 throws, with one of the incompletions being a drop by wideout Chris Conley. Atlanta generally chose to rush just its front four, which led to a relatively clean day for Smith. He was pressured just three times, and while he took one sack, he completed throws on the other two plays. The Falcons blitzed just six times, and Smith completed all six throws against the extra rusher for 95 yards and a touchdown, good for a QB rating of 158.3.
Jones continues to shine, by the way; in his last seven games (all starts), he has racked up two sacks and 21 hurries — the most among qualifying 3-4 defensive ends since Week 7, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Chiefs only forced one Atlanta punt Sunday, which meant explosive rookie returner Tyreek Hill only saw one special teams rep against the Falcons. That's a season low, and it shows how far Hill has come since the beginning of the year, when he was a gunner and one of the team's most productive special teamers, overall. Given his value to the offense, he deserves the "starter" treatment he's received of late.
Joining Maclin as limited participants on Monday were defensive linemen Dontari Poe (back) and Kendall Reyes (knee) and linebacker Tamba Hali (knee). Cornerback Phillip Gaines, who didn't play against the Falcons because of a knee injury, was listed as a full participant.
West cut into Ware's workload a tad last week, but Ware resumed his place atop the running back hierarchy against the Falcons. Davis was inactive for the first time since he re-joined the Chiefs a month ago. It appears the decision was made so the Chiefs could play six defensive linemen as opposed to the five they played a week ago. Given the Falcons' offensive firepower, that made sense.
No, Reid and his coaches burned the midnight oil at the Chiefs Training Complex because of the brevity of the work week. The Chiefs play host to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday.
"A lot of us have been here all night with players coming in today, making sure we have the game plan right for them," Reid said Monday.
"It's really big," Crabtree told reporters. "It's really big for the conference. We need this one. Everybody is on the same page. We're going to go out here and play ball."
"They're tough to get ready for," coach Andy Reid said. "The positive is you get a few days off afterwards. But getting ready, it's a bit of a scramble drill. But you do it and you move on."
I was in Florida’s foster system twice — for a year starting when I was six, and then for six years starting when I was 12. My girlfriend asks me all the time how I dealt with spending so much time in foster care. And I always tell her that I just didn’t know there was any other way. To me, all of it — foster care, my parents being in jail, moving from house to house to house to house — was normal. And you know what? I was lucky.
"It’s Chiefs week, man. What do you mean another game?" Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "For us, they won the first one here. We look forward to going in there and competing. It’s a good football team, and we are too. We look forward to it."
"If you are not able to get off work early and get here anytime earlier than 3 p.m., you are going to face substantial traffic. It’s just what happens with the amount of commuters that come through here. Be prepared for that," Donovan said. "If you are not going to game or are going home to watch the game and you typically use interstates 70 or 435 around the complex to get home, we recommend finding alternative routes prior to Thursday."
Complicating matters for Smith and the Raiders is the fact that they play on Thursday night, in Kansas City. Smith will be ready to suit up and play, if he’s given the green light to return, a source tells PFT.
The first hour of parking will be an "open park," which gives fans preferred spots in lots C, D, F, G and the lot N perimeter. Those arriving after 1 p.m. will be assigned the next available spots. The Stadium itself will open up at 6 p.m. for all ticket holders, while Club Level guests can enter at 5 p.m. There will be a number of events going on around the Stadium leading up to the game, including the Chiefs’ 51st annual Toys for Tots Drive. Chiefs volunteers and local service members will be stationed outside all stadiums gates to accept new, unwrapped toys for boys and girls up to the age of 13. The Chiefs collected a record 2,322 toys last season.
No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin is progressing toward a return. Coach Andy Reid said Maclin is "making improvement" but doesn't yet know his receiver's status for Thursday Night Football (NFL Network) against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. A win would thrust Kansas City into first place in the division.
Pro Football Reference estimates teams’ expected win-loss record, which means what their records should be given their points scored and allowed on the season. The Chiefs’ expected wins are seven and the Lions 6.6, which means that, together, they have created nearly four wins more than they should have.
With Justin Houston back to go with Dee Ford, who played Sunday after missing the Week 12 game, the Chiefs have two elite edge rushers and another good one in Tamba Hali. That will make them a playoff challenge for all comers in January.
"If a team played man, your tight end is gonna get a safety or a linebacker on him and all the corners are gonna go over there and match up on the receivers," Smith told MMQB. "The tight end has to be talented enough to win that. That has to be a match up you want, depending on the team you’re playing. There’s probably not many of those match-ups that we don’t look at as favorable with Kelce. He’s that kind of player." It was the exact formation the Chiefs used to exploit a one-on-one matchup between Kelce and Falcons safety Keanu Neal for a 35-yard gain early in Week 13: