Red Zone

Halftime observations: Chiefs lead Falcons 20-16 in aerial circus

Chiefs safety Eric Berry intercepted a pass in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Chiefs safety Eric Berry intercepted a pass in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. deulitt@kcstar.com

It’s halftime at the Georgia Dome, and the Chiefs lead the Atlanta Falcons 20-16 in their Week 13 showdown. Here are some quick thoughts.

1. It looks like the Chiefs don't respect the Falcons' eye discipline. Whenever you see the Chiefs running motions preplay and lots of jet sweeps, screens and misdirection, it's a dead giveaway. Granted, the Chiefs do a lot of that every week, but it’s clear they thought they could get some chunk plays this week against a young defense.

2. The Chiefs using a ton of shotgun today in their attempt to open it up a little more than normal. The Falcons are practically daring them to through deep, too; they’ve been playing a healthy amount of single-high coverage, even in obvious passing situations. Quarterback Alex Smith (11 of 13, 168 yards) is dealing today, and this is part of the reason why.

3. Never seen the Chiefs sub so much defensively. Seriously, they’re almost on a platoon system; there were a few times I saw the entire d-line being subbed out at once. It’s obviously the Chiefs’ counter to the Falcons’ relentless no-huddle attack. Quarterback Matt Ryan (13 of 19, 139 yards) is generally living up to his billing, despite the Eric Berry pick 6 that gave the Chiefs the lead right before halftime.

4. The Chiefs are having a really difficult time with star running back Devonta Freeman, who is even better live than he is on tape. The guy boasts superb quickness and juice. The Falcons are running the ball between the 10s because their field-stretching ability tests the Chiefs’ ability to be disciplined horizontally, but the Chiefs are winning up front when the field is condensed, which has led to some red-zone field goals.

5. The Chiefs were plagued by penalties early, especially defensively. On one Atlanta scoring drive, 56 of their 71 yards were gifted via penalty. Some of them were questionable, yes, but the Chiefs, overall, must still play with more discipline.

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