Kansas City Chiefs running back Le’Veon Bell (26) crosses the goal line past New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Kwon Alexander (58) on a touchdown carry in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Brett Duke)
- The Kansas City Chiefs are 10.5-point home favorites for their game Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons at Arrowhead Stadium
- John Perrotto Betting Record: 9-6-2 (2.4 units won)
- The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to win six consecutive games by one score – see below if we think it will be seven
The Kansas City Chiefs put a unique winning streak on the line when they host the Atlanta Falcons at 1pm ET Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs, who are double-digit favorites, have won nine games in a row to raise their record to an NFL-best 13-1. However, they are also the first team in NFL history to win six straight games by one score.
The Chiefs have covered just once in those six games. That has dropped their season record against the spread to 7-7.
The Falcons are 4-10 and on a three-game losing streak while going 6-8 ATS.
Falcons vs Chiefs Odds
|Atlanta Falcons||+440||+10.5 (-106)||Over 53.5 (-110)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||-590||-10.5 (-114)||Under 53.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 26 from FanDuel
Lots of Close Calls
The Chiefs would clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win in their attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions. However, they have not been dominant over the past six weeks.
Playing at home in January could mean some of this.
Winter Wonderland x Arrowhead Stadium ❄️
(via @Chiefs) pic.twitter.com/x9IWfigGj5
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 15, 2019
Kansas City has beaten the Carolina Panthers by two points, the Las Vegas Raiders by four, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by three, the Denver Broncos by six, the Miami Dolphins by six and the New Orleans Saints by three.
Last week, the Chiefs blew an early 14-point lead yet bounced back to beat the Saints 32-29 on the road to barely cover the 2.5-point spread.
Yet is was another road win.
The win represented our eighth win on the road this season, marking our first perfect record away from Arrowhead Stadium in the Super Bowl Era 📝
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 21, 2020
While the Chiefs keep finding ways to win, the Falcons keep finding ways to lose.
Seven of the Falcons’ 10 losses this season have been by one score, including two by one point. Last week, they led the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-7 in the third quarter, yet wound up losing 31-27 as six-point underdogs.
Both teams will have new starting running backs.
Chiefs rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire will miss at least the rest of the regular season with a hip injury. The Saints’ Todd Gurley has been benched for ineffectiveness.
Veteran Le’Veon Bell becomes the Chiefs’ feature back and it will be interesting to see how he performs in an increased role.
Lol at “theories”
I broke down the Chiefs-Dolphins film to point out that when KC goes 2×2 and sees cover-1, they often react by shifting Kelce inside. The Saints played a lot of cover-2 yesterday.
But on Le’Veon Bell’s TD. Saints show cover-1 and you can guess what happens ⤵️ https://t.co/ZMU9bQ5i0W pic.twitter.com/rkjRJeoAG1
— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) December 21, 2020
In eight games since the two-time All-Pro was signed as a free agent following his release by the New York Jets, he has rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns on 56 carries and caught 12 passes for 90 yards.
Ito Smith will be the primary ballcarrier for the Falcons after replacing Gurley in last week’s loss.
Smith will be making the first start of his three-year career. He has 50 carries for 213 yards and one TD this season along with 15 receptions for 63 yards.
Smith has surpassed 60 yards rushing just three times in his career and had a career-best 65 yards in a rout of the Raiders in Week 12.
Ito Smith too quick 💨
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) September 16, 2019
Considering the Chiefs are 21st in the league in run defense, Smith might make an impact. The Falcons are ninth in that category.
Both teams, of course, rely heavily on the passing game. The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 4,462 yards and 36 touchdowns this season while the Falcons’ Matt Ryan has 4,016 passing yards with 22 TDs.
Injuries will cause Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) and center Alex Mack (concussion) to miss the game. They have combined for 13 Pro Bowl appearances.
This will be the sixth game Jones has been sidelined this season, but Calvin Ridley has moved seamlessly into the WR1 role with 77 receptions for 1,192 yards and nine touchdowns.
A little birthday 🎁 from #MattyIce❄️ to @CalvinRidley1!
📺: FOX pic.twitter.com/iTziH5DnnH
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) December 20, 2020
Atlanta left guard James Carpenter (groin) will also sit out.
In addition to Edwards-Helaire, linebacker Damien Wilson (knee) has been declared out for the Chiefs.
Sunday’s weather forecast calls for 48 degrees and sunny, though winds could gust up to 22 mph.
Tight Last Time
The teams have not met since 2016 when the Chiefs eked out a 29-28 victory over the Super Bowl-bound Falcons in Atlanta.
This time, Kansas City looks headed to the Super Bowl, but look for another close game. That is how both teams roll.
Pick: Falcons +10.5 (-106)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.