Falcons/Chiefs: Key Matchups to Watch

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Oct 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) celebrates his touchdown catch with wide receiver Julio Jones (11) in the fourth quarter of their game against the Green Bay Packers at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 33-32. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) celebrates his touchdown catch with wide receiver Julio Jones (11) in the fourth quarter of their game against the Green Bay Packers at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 33-32. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs are looking to make a run in the red-hot AFC West division and it begins when they travel to take on the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. They’re coming off of a dramatic win against the Broncos in which Cairo Santos ricocheted the game winning field goal off of the uprights and in for three. The team is emotionally charged for sure, but both squads have plenty to play for and a lot on the line. Each team is capable of exploiting potential matchups and taking control of the game quickly.

Phillip Gaines vs. Mohamed Sanu/Taylor Gabriel

Gaines struggled mightily against the Broncos last week, giving up over 200 yards total. Now, he’ll face a challenge in defending Atlanta’s red hot offense in enemy territory. Julio Jones will likely be shadowed by Marcus Peters, the Chiefs best cornerback, but this will set up opportunities for other offensive weapons. Taylor Gabriel has been an extremely valuable asset and will rack up plenty of yards this game, but Mohamed Sanu could get 10+ targets on Sunday. With the immediate focus on Jones and Gabriel, Sunday could present itself as a showcase game for Mohamed Sanu and Matt Ryan is surely well aware.

Ryan Schraeder vs. Justin Houston

Schraeder already took care of the AFC West’s best pass rusher in Von Miller, but Justin Houston is every bit as talented. It’s up to Schraeder to set the pocket for Matt Ryan and let him air out this Kansas City pass defense. If Schraeder is even somewhat successful against Houston, the Atlanta Falcons can focus on other pass rushing forces such as Tamba Hali and Dee Ford. However, in order to secure a one-on-one matchup with these other forces, Justin Houston must be contained.


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Atlanta Falcons linebackers vs. Travis Kelce

Another week, another threat of a great tight end shredding Atlanta’s defense. Atlanta should and probably will prioritize stopping Travis Kelce in this game and that starts with De’vondre Campbell. Kansas City doesn’t have the most ridiculous passing game outside of Tyreek Hill (assuming Jeremy Maclin is still limited), so Travis Kelce is the biggest threat for them. If Atlanta can limit Kelce and make the offense more one dimensional, they have a good chance to win.

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