Scott Shapiro's AFC Championship Game Analysis - New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
Championship Sunday continues with another rematch of a high-scoring contest that took place during the middle of the 2018 NFL season. The difference, though, is that the loser of the regular season showdown is now the host with New England visiting Kansas City with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
When the Chiefs visited the Patriots on Sunday night in Week 6 it was all New England early, but ended up being a tight one late. Probable MVP Patrick Mahomes was not his normal self during the first half when he threw two interceptions, but the second-year signal caller regrouped in the locker room and was brilliant in the final 30 minutes when the Chiefs outscored the home team 31-19, but fell 3 points short. It is supposed to be extremely cold in Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday evening and the Chiefs face arguably the greatest coach in NFL history, but other than that there is little reason to believe Mahomes will not play well.
The same can be said for one of the greatest quarterbacks ever in Tom Brady who was exceptional in the Patriots 41-28 victory at home against the Chargers last Sunday. Brady and New England’s offense scored touchdowns on their first four drives and posted 35 first half points before taking their foot off the gas in the second half. The major question with Brady and the Patriots is whether they have similar success away from Foxborough.
One would think an experienced team like the Pats would be able to get the job done on the road, but that was not the case in 2018. New England was 8-0 in Gillette Stadium during the regular season, but was just 3-5 away from home. Furthermore, it was not as if the defending AFC champions lost all tight games on the road. Instead they were beaten soundly by less than stellar competition in multiple spots, including a 26-10 to the Lions and 34-10 against Tennessee.
It is understandable why bettors would be attracted to a Patriots team getting points, especially after a dominant performance last week, since they have not been an underdog over the last 69 games. I certainly am not rushing to the windows personally to play against Brady and Belichick, but despite the blowout victory against Los Angeles last weekend I still have concerns regarding New England’s overall team speed. Furthermore, the Chiefs defense that struggled through most of 2018 was not only significantly better at home all season, but they put together one of their best efforts against the red-hot Colts and Andrew Luck just a week ago.
It is hard for me to be overly confident backing Andy Reid over Bill Belichick in a playoff game based on history, but the Chiefs got the monkey off their back last Saturday and while they still have a ton of pressure to get to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970. I expect them to move the ball better on Sunday after leaving several plays on the field last weekend against Indianapolis.
If the Kansas City defense can deal with the 21-personnel packages that the Patriots dominated the Chiefs with in their first meeting and can avoid the turnovers that cost them the game back on October 14th, I think it is their time to win the AFC and have a shot at winning their second Super Bowl.
Scott Shapiro’s AFC Championship Play- Kansas City -3