The New England Patriots will travel to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri to take on the Chiefs. The AFC Championship game will kick off at 6:40 PM. ET.
The Patriots are coming off an impressive performance against the Chargers in the divisional round. New England dominated on the ground, racking up 155 yards on 24 carries. Similarly, Brady was through the air, passing for 343 yards on 34 completions. Brady was able to connect with Phillip Dorsett for his lone passing touchdown of the game. Facing off against a Kanas City offense that has the ability to put up tons of points in a hurry—Brady and the Patriots’ offense will need a repeat performance.
The Kansas City Chiefs come in this AFC Championship game as the favorite. From the start of the season, the Chiefs were on a collision course to make a title appearance. With only one game to reach the Super Bowl, Kansas City and their fan base are on the edge of their seat with anticipation. This Chiefs squad is led by, arguably, the most talented passer in the league: Patrick Mahomes. On the season, Mahomes became just the third quarterback to pass for 50 touchdowns in a season. Every week, Mahomes’ intelligence and ability to improvise creates a unique challenge for opposing defenses.
The Chiefs and Patriots played earlier in the season in a game that lived up to the hype. Mahomes and the Chiefs went into Foxborough on a four-game winning streak propelled by an explosive offense. The Chiefs fell to the Patriots by three points. In that game, both offenses played masterfully, both teams scoring forty points or more. Facing each other this time in Kansas City, expect the Chiefs’ defense to limit some of those scoring opportunities.
Last week, against the Colts, the Chiefs tenacious defensive got after Andrew Luck, forcing him into check downs and errant throws. The Chiefs’ defense was able to stifle the Colts for most of the game—Andrew Luck averaged a meager 5.6 yards per attempt. Facing a Patriots’ offense that’s known for getting the ball out quickly, expect the Chiefs to have some success getting after Brady. Against the Chiefs’ defense, Brady will need to find his quick outlet to mitigate Kansas City’s pass-rush.
One receiver the Chiefs’ defense needs to watch out for is Julian Edelman. After starting the year off suspended, Edelman never found his rhythm with Brady in the passing game. Last week, however, Edelman finally exploded in the offense, catching 9 receptions for 151 yards. Edelman contributions to the offense are important as he’s been the only Patriots wide-receiver to play with any consistency.
The Patriots’ passing attack has been hard to pinpoint this season. Gronkowski looks like a shell of himself, but there is a sense that he could emerge at any moment. Playing in his eighth AFC Championship game, this could be Gronkowski’s final game as a Patriots and in the NFL. He’s hinted at retirement, and one has to wonder if knowing this, the Patriots will go to the well once more with Gronkowski and “feed the beast.” This is arguably Gronkowski’s worst season as a pro. He played in 13 games and managed only 682 yards on 47 catches and three touchdowns. The three touchdowns tied a career low. He’s no longer the dominant threat he once was; however, he still creates a matchup nightmare if the Patriots decide to utilize him as such.
AFC Championship Patriots Vs Chiefs Betting Lines
Part of me believes that the Patriots have been saving Gronkowski for this moment as if underutilizing him all season was Belichick’s secret plan. It wasn’t. Gronkowski is a different player at this point in his career and he’s not going to dominate a game like he used to. The key to this game will be the Patriots running game. If New England can get an early lead, expect the Patriots offensive line to win them this game. On the season, the Patriot’ offensive line has allowed the third fewest sacks on the season and fourth fewest quarterback hits. Not only is the Patriot’s pass protection above reproach, but their run blocking is helping to guide the fifth-best rushing attack in the league.
Trying to slow down this powerful rushing attack is the Chiefs’ 27th ranked run defense. The Chiefs allow 132 rushing yards per game; they’ve allowed 19 touchdowns on the season. The Patriots will need to utilize all three of their running back in this game, as well as lining up Cordarrelle Paterson in the backfield. The Patriots always have a trick play up their sleeves in the playoffs, expect some kind of tom-foolery to occur in the game.
The Patriots’ have so much experience in these situations, but it’s hard to look past their previous road failures in the postseason during the Belichick Brady era. The Patriots will need to play a perfect game to beat the Chiefs. In the first half, expect Kanas City to control this game, while the Patriots will struggle to slow down Mahomes. Once the second half starts, expect the Patriots to make enough adjustments to come away with a late field goal to win the game.
Play: Patriots +3 @ BetOnline.ag