Chiefs vs. Falcons Odds & Picks: 2 Player Props To Bet in Sunday’s Showdown
Chris Unger/Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Kelce
Chiefs vs. Falcons Odds
The Chiefs will host the Falcons for a non-conference matchup with a chance to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs, but the matchup could serve as a letdown spot for the Chiefs after last week’s possible Super Bowl preview against the Saints.
Kansas City’s win over New Orleans was the Chiefs’ first cover in six weeks despite winning every game dating back to Week 6. Let’s face it: The Chiefs are so good that they don’t really need to kick it into high gear to win these games. They’re 7-7 against the spread this season with a 4-4 record at home and 3-3 mark on the road.
Wind gusts up to 14 mph are expected in Kansas City, so that could slow down the Chiefs’ dynamic offense. This line opened with the Chiefs as high as 13-point favorites, but that number has been bought down to as low as 10.5.
Given the windy conditions and this being a possible letdown spot for Kansas City, let’s look to highlight some props that correlate with this situational spot.
Atlanta’s performances haven’t been as straightforward as its record would indicate.
The Falcons fired head coach Dan Quinn after an 0-5 start, then proceeded to win their very next game with Raheem Morris as interim head coach. They then won two of their next three games, but have sputtered of late with just one win in their last five games — but in fairness, two of those losses came to the Saints, who rank second in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA.
Atlanta has actually outscored its opponents, 112-102, over those five games despite the one win to show for the team’s efforts.
There’s no question that the Falcons have underachieved with their four wins. Their Pythagorean expectation actually projects that they should have won eight games this season.
In recent years, Atlanta has often been criticized for its defense, but that shouldn’t be the case in 2020: The Falcons’ defense has actually been their stronger unit, ranking 12th in the league in defensive DVOA.
Now the Falcons will take on a Chiefs team that’s ranked second with 33 passing plays for more than 25 yards. What the Falcons can’t do is allow the Chiefs to get behind them, particularly in the red zone — this is where the windy conditions could benefit the Falcons, especially if there are fewer deep-ball opportunities for the Chiefs down the field.
As for Atlanta’s offense, it will be without Julio Jones for the third consecutive game. The conditions might not allow for too many throws outside the numbers, so Russell Gage could have an increased role as a slot receiver.
Gage has seen more targets over the last three weeks with an average of 8.3 per game. In his last two games, he’s caught 10 passes per game with an average of 75 yards per game.
The Falcons will also have some shuffling to do on their offensive line — center Alex Mack and left guard James Carpenter will be out. Backup wide receiver Brandon Powell was a limited participant in practice this week and is listed as questionable for Sunday.
On defense, starting cornerback Darqueze Dennard has been ruled with a quad injury while starting safety Ricardo Allen is listed as questionable with a concussion. Allen was, however, a full participant on Thursday and Friday.
Kansas City Chiefs
One of the more impressive things about the Chiefs is how efficient they are as a team — they’re ranked fourth with .462 points per play.
It also doesn’t hurt to have arguably the NFL’s best quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, who is tied with Aaron Rodgers for the highest mark in ESPN’s Total QBR (83.5).
One would think that Kansas City is one of the best red zone teams, but that’s not the case. The Chiefs are actually in the bottom half of the league with a 59.26% touchdown conversion rate in the red zone. But what makes them so difficult to defend is that they’re able to score so many of their points from outside the red zone.
In baseball, they say that great sluggers are in scoring position once they step in the batter’s box. Well, Mahomes is in scoring position once he steps out of the huddle.
With Atlanta’s secondary banged-up coming into the game, Kansas City’s receivers have a good chance to win their head-to-head matchups.
The Chiefs are so focused on their vertical game and getting the ball down the field that they don’t utilize check-downs as much as other teams do. The Chiefs don’t beat themselves in that they’re able to stay ahead of the chains with a 56% successful play rate, per Sharp Football Stats.
And now with starting running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire out with a high-ankle sprain, I don’t expect Kansas City to add too many new wrinkles with passes to Le’Veon Bell, especially not when the Falcons’ secondary has allowed the second-most passing yards per game (287.7).
Even though Bell has been known as a good pass-catcher throughout his career, he hasn’t been targeted more than three times in a game since he joined the Chiefs and hasn’t had more than 15 receiving yards in his last six. Bell certainly looks like a worthy candidate for some under props in this game.
In addition to Edwards-Helaire out, the Chiefs also ruled out linebacker Damien Wilson with a knee injury. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill is questionable after tweaking his hamstring in last week’s win over the Saints.
While Frank Clark is also questionable with an undisclosed illness, he was able to practice without restrictions on Friday.
Key injuries on both sides paired with a windy forecast have shifted my focus to two props in this game.
Atlanta will be without two key starters on its offensive line, which could impact its ability to pass block. Matt Ryan will likely need to get the ball out quickly, which could mean more targets and receptions for Russell Gage in the slot.
As for the Chiefs, they’ve had fewer targets to their running backs, particularly with Travis Kelce’s dominance.
Kelce has had double-digit targets in six of his last seven games. Coming into Week 16, he’s just six yards behind DeAndre Hopkins for the most receiving yards in the league. Should Kelce finish the season with the most, he would be the first tight end in NFL history to achieve this feat.
The Chiefs are making a concerted effort to get Kelce the ball, so we can expect their running backs to continue to lose target shares to the tight end.
BetMGM has set Le’Veon Bell’s receiving yardage line set at 21.5, while our FantasyLabs tool is projecting him for 19.2 yards. I agree with that projection and like this prop to stay under the number.
Pick: Russell Gage Over 4.5 Receptions (-104)
Pick: Le’Veon Bell Under 21.5 Receiving Yards (-111)