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New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs Prediction, Preview, and Odds

Sony Michel and the Patriots look to build off their AFC Divisional Round win as they make the trip to face Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday night

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It’s the AFC Championship Game coming to you from the Midwest. The New England Patriots battle the Kansas City Chiefs with a berth in Super Bowl LIII on the line Sunday evening. New England advanced to the conference title game by downing the Chargers 41-28 last Sunday at home in the AFC Divisional Round. Kansas City rolled to a 31-13 win over the Colts in the AFC Divisional Round at home last Saturday. The Chiefs lead the all-time regular season series 18-14-3, though the Patriots took a 43-40 win at home in the last matchup on October 14, 2018. In the lone playoff meeting in the history between the teams, the Patriots took a 27-20 win at home in the AFC Divisional Round on January 16, 2016.

A Quick Review of the Season to Date

New England Patriots Review

New England had a hot start to the game and that helped them control things en route to the win over the Chargers. The Patriots now look to make a third straight Super Bowl appearance but first they’ll have to come up with the win on the road here. New England makes their NFL record eighth consecutive conference title game appearance. The Patriots, after seeing the Chargers tie the game in the first quarter at seven, scored 31 unanswered points to take a 38-7 edge midway through the third quarter. New England gave up a couple of garbage time touchdowns to make the final score closer than what the game actually was. The Patriots held a 498-335 edge in total offense, rolled up 30 first downs while allowing 22 and dominated time of possession by a 38:40 to 22:20 margin in the contest. New England forced a pair of turnovers in the game while not committing one.

Kansas City Chiefs Review

Kansas City picked up their first home playoff win in 25 years as they shut down the Colts’ offensive attack to advance. The Chiefs now try to avenge their regular season loss back in week 6 to the Patriots with the team’s first Super Bowl berth since Super Bowl IV on the line. Kansas City led 14-0 after the opening quarter and 24-7 at the half before cruising to the win. The Chiefs outgained the Colts 433-263 in the game and picked up 29 first downs while allowing 15. Kansas City controlled the clock by a 39:49 to 20:11 margin while both teams committed a turnover. The Chiefs did give up a score on a blocked punt.

 

New England Patriots Offense vs. Kansas City Chiefs Defense

Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?

New England Patriots Rushing Offense

New England was remarkably consistent when it came to running the football this season. The Patriots cracked the century mark in nine games this season and they ran for at least 76 yards in six of the other seven contests. The lone anomaly for New England came in their week 10 loss to the Titans when they were limited to just 40 yards on 19 carries. In the last four games of the season, the Patriots ran the ball for an average of 144.3 yards per game, 4.6 yards per carry and found the end zone three times. In the divisional round against the Chargers, New England had 34 rushing attempts total 155 yards plus four scores.

Rookie Sony Michel led the Patriots in the ground game with 209 carries for 931 yards and six scores. James White (94 carries, 425 yards, five TD), Cordarrelle Patterson (42 carries, 228 yards, TD) and Rex Burkhead (57 carries, 186 yards) are all factors in the ground game as well. This season, the Patriots have a total of 12 runs that have covered at least 20 yards. White led the team with five while Michel added four and Patterson two. New England moved the sticks 131 times via the ground this season.

Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense

Kansas City has struggled in all facets of defense this season, which makes it all the more important that their offense carries the day. The Chiefs have had problems stopping the run, allowing at least 100 yards in 12 of their 16 games this season. Kansas City has held just two opponents under 70 yards on the ground this season, with that coming in week 2 against the Steelers, when they allowed a season-low 37 yards, and in a week 6 demolition of the Bengals, when they allowed 65. Kansas City allowed at least 170 yards on the ground six times this season. Over the final quarter of the season, the Chiefs allowed an average of 162.5 yards per game, 4.8 yards per carry and five touchdowns on the ground. In the divisional playoff win over Indianapolis, the Chiefs stepped up defensively. Kansas City allowed 87 yards on 14 carries but 46 of those yards came on a fourth quarter drive with the Colts down 17 points. The Chiefs are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.

Anthony Hitchens is the team’s leading tackler as he has piled up 135 tackles (81 solo) with 6.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Reggie Ragland contributes 86 tackles (46 solo) with half a sack plus three tackles for loss while Dee Ford (55 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles), Xavier Williams (47 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble) and Chris Jones (40 tackles, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles) are solid in the front seven as well. The Chiefs have allowed just 11 runs of at least 20 yards this season but has seen the opposition move the chains 129 times on the ground this season.

Who Has the Edge?

New England was fairly decent at running the ball during the course of the regular season. The Patriots pounded the Chargers’ seven DB look that made life tough for the Ravens. Kansas City was awful during the regular season against the run but they actually were effective at stopping the Colts’ ground game in the divisional round. Some of that can be chalked up to building a 17-0 lead but they held Indianapolis in check early on in the game. It might be a little tougher task trying to slow the Patriots but the weather could help in that department as well. Call this one a wash.

Advantage: Push

Aerial Assault: Who Has the Upper Hand?

New England Patriots Passing Offense

New England continues to find ways to move the ball through the air. Even with suspensions, injuries and guys failing to mesh with the system running through the receiving corps of the Patriots, they still found a way to move the sticks on a regular basis. New England threw for at least 300 yards in six games during the course of the season and at least 274 yards in five other contests. The Patriots averaged 253.3 yards per game through the air in the final four games of the regular season. New England completed 65 percent of their throws in that stretch with nine touchdowns and three picks while amassing a 98.7 passer rating. In the win over the Chargers in the divisional round, they hit 34 of 44 passes for 343 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. The Patriots are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.

Tom Brady hit 375 of 570 passes for 4,355 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. He was sacked 21 times while adding 35 yards and two scores on the ground. Brian Hoyer is one of two for seven yards this season. James White led the team with 87 receptions for 751 yards and seven scores out of the backfield. Julian Edelman (74 catches, team high 850 yards, six TD), Rob Gronkowski (47 grabs, 682 yards, three TD), Chris Hogan (35 receptions, 532 yards, three TD), Philip Dorsett (32 catches, 290 yards, three TD) and Patterson (21 receptions, 247 yards, three TD) are good options for Brady to look for in the passing game. New England had 54 pass plays cover at least 20 yards during the season. Edelman and the now-suspended Josh Gordon (40 receptions, 720 yards, three TD) each had 12 such catches while Hogan had 11.

Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense

Kansas City continues to get strafed defensively as even their ability to get after opposing quarterbacks hasn’t stopped them from hemorrhaging yards and points. The Chiefs have allowed more than 300 yards through the air seven times this season. That includes a mind-boggling four games where they have allowed at least 400 yards through the air. The Chiefs were a little better down the stretch though some of that was due to the teams they were facing. In the last month of the season, Kansas City allowed an average of 229 yards per game through the air while allowing seven touchdown passes. The Chiefs did intercept four passes and record 13 sacks in those contests.

Chris Jones leads Kansas City in the sack department as he has racked up 15,5 this season to go along with five pass defenses. Dee Ford chips in 13 sacks, Allen Bailey (38 tackles, tackle for loss, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, TD) has six sacks while Justin Houston (37 tackles, five tackles for loss, pass defense, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries) adds nine sacks. Steven Nelson (68 tackles, two tackles for loss, 15 pass defenses) leads the team with four interceptions this season. Ron Parker (77 tackles, sack, tackle for loss, five pass defenses, TD) and Kendall Fuller (82 tackles, two tackles for loss, forced fumble, 12 pass defenses) each have two picks while Eric Murray (55 tackles, two pass defenses), Orlando Scandrick (44 tackles, 13 pass defenses, forced fumble), Jones (TD), Houston, Reggie Ragland (half a sack, pass defense), Daniel Sorensen (26 tackles, two pass defenses, fumble recover, TD) and Jordan Lucas (32 tackles, sack, two pass defenses) each have one. All told, the Chiefs have allowed 65 pass plays of at least 20 yards: they have 64 pass defenses and 15 interceptions to go with 52 sacks.

Who Has the Edge?

This is going to be an interesting clash between the all or nothing Chiefs’ pass rush and the Patriots’ offensive line. Sure, Brady is one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game and he can get rid of the ball in a hurry. He also takes a fair share of hits back there and at his age and with the chilly forecast weather wise, it’s something he’d like to avoid if at all possible. One thing that New England has to plan for: Houston didn’t play in the first meeting back in week 6 and neither did Berry. We know Houston will be on the field and if Berry plays, the complexion of the secondary changes as well. The Chiefs got to Luck three times last week and he was the least-sacked QB in the league this season. You have to like Kansas City’s chances of getting to Brady and disrupting the Patriots’ passing attack.

Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs Offense vs. New England Patriots Defense

Who Has the Edge in the Ground Game?

Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense

Kansas City, despite their ability to move the ball on the ground, hasn’t been overly committed to the run game this season. The Chiefs are 23rd in the league as they run the ball on 38.86 percent of their plays this season. Kansas City has broken the century mark on the ground nine times this season, highlighted by a 198 yard showing against the Bengals in week 7. On four other occasions, the Chiefs have run for at least 94 yards, leaving just three games as outliers. Against the 49ers in week 3, Kansas City ran the ball 28 times for 77 yards while in a week 8 win over Denver, they recorded a season-low 49 yards on 18 carries. In week 17 against the Raiders, Kansas City totaled 99 yards and two scores on 27 carries. Over the past month, the Chiefs have averaged 101.8 yards per game on the ground while averaging 4.5 yards per carry plus five scores. In the divisional playoff win over Indianapolis, the Chiefs ran the ball 33 times for 180 yards and four touchdowns as they adjusted to the weather. The Chiefs are 17-5 ATS in their last 22 games after accumulating more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game.

Kareem Hunt ran the ball 181 times for a team-leading 824 yards along with seven scores. After being placed on the restricted list following video footage of an incident back in February, the team released him. Spencer Ware is next in line with 51 carries for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes is second on the team with 272 yards plus two scores. Speedster receiver Tyreek Hill has 19 carries for 119 yards this season. Damien Williams got the starting job with Ware missing down the stretch: he has 50 carries for 256 yards plus four scores this season. All told, the Chiefs have 19 runs of at least 20 yards this season while moving the chains 108 times on the ground. Hunt had seven of those big play runs while Williams added four down the stretch in his action.

New England Patriots Rushing Defense

New England was up and down in the run defense game all season long. After getting gashed for at least 109 yards in each of their first three games, they allowed more than 100 yards just once in their next five games. In the second half of the season, the Patriots gave up at least 100 yards in five of their final eight games, while giving up at least 72 in each game. Over the final four games of the regular season, New England gave up 130.8 yards per game, six yards per carry and two touchdowns on the ground. In the divisional playoff tilt, they held the Chargers to a measly 19 yards on 10 carries.

The Patriots are led defensively by linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who finished the season with 92 tackles (55 solo), eight tackles for loss, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a return TD. Elandon Roberts (65 tackles, eight tackles for loss), Lawrence Guy (59 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble), Trey Flowers (57 tackles, five tackles for loss, three forced fumbles) and Dont’a Hightower (48 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, fumble recovery) are other solid pieces in the front seven. New England gave up only 11 runs of at least 20 yards this season while opponents picked up 93 first downs via the ground game.

Who Has the Edge?

New England didn’t face a ton of rushing attempts during the course of the season, mainly due to game situations dictating that the opposition throw the ball. Still, when opponents did run the ball, the Patriots had a tough time stopping it: 14 times in the regular season, the opposing team averaged at least four yards per carry. While New England stifled the Chargers in the divisional round, game situation again had a lot to do with that. Kansas City showed they can pound the ball as Williams has stepped in nicely to fill the void created by Hunt’s departure and Ware’s injury. The Chiefs get the slight edge in this category.

Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs

Who Has the Upper Hand in the Passing Attack?

Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense

Kansas City has been a high octane passing offense all season long, which has been a boon for the team and a detriment to opposing defenses. The Chiefs cracked the 300 yard mark through the air 11 times this season. In one of the games that Kansas City fell short of the mark, the team threw for 295 yards. The Chiefs haven’t thrown for fewer than 243 yards in a game this season. In the final quarter of the regular season, Kansas City averaged 300.8 yards per game through the air with nine touchdowns and two interceptions while allowing six sacks.

Patrick Mahomes is 383 of 580 passing for 5,097 yards with 50 touchdowns against 12 interceptions while getting sacked 26 times for a total of 171 yards. He is second on the team with 272 rushing yards and two scores. Chad Henne is two of three for 29 yards. Mahomes has a trio of talented targets that he works the ball to so far this season. Pro Bowl TE Travis Kelce leads the team with 103 grabs for 1,336 yards plus 10 scores. Meanwhile, receivers Sammy Watkins (40 receptions, 519 yards, three TD) and big play machine Tyreek Hill (87 grabs, team high 1479 yards, 12 TD) are major threats on the outside. Watkins missed the last six games of the season with a foot injury but is expected to return here. If he misses the game or is limited, Chris Conley ((32 receptions, 334 yards, five TD) would likely see an uptick in targets. Kansas City has racked up 76 pass plays of at least 20 yards this season. Hill (27 receptions of at least 20 yards) and Kelce (18) are the major targets when the Chiefs hit big plays.

New England Patriots Passing Defense

New England had to face a barrage of passes during the season as they tended to have comfortable leads in games, forcing the opposition to go to the air in order to try and catch up. The Patriots gave up at least 300 yards through the air five times during the course of the season with three of those teams going over 350 yards. In the second half of the season, New England clamped down defensively as they didn’t give up more than 276 yards in a game through the air. Over the final four games of the regular season, the Patriots allowed an average of 221 yards per game through the air. Opposing QBs completed 59 percent of their throws in that span with six touchdowns, four interceptions and an 84.2 passer rating while recording 11 sacks. In the divisional round, New England held Philip Rivers to 25 of 51 passing for 316 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

Trey Flowers (two pass defenses) led the team in the regular season with 7.5 sacks. Deatrich Wise Jr. (30 tackles, tackle for loss) added 4.5 sacks while Kyle Van Noy (two pass defenses) was next in line with 3.5 sacks. Safety Duron Harmon (38 tackles, four pass defenses, fumble recovery) led the team with four interceptions. Jonathan Jones (56 tackles, tackle for loss, 1.5 sacks, forced fumble, seven pass defenses) and J.C. Jackson (24 tackles, tackle for loss, six pass defenses) each had three interceptions while Stephon Gilmore (45 tackles, tackle for loss, two forced fumbles, fumble recovery, 20 pass defenses) chipped in two: he also added a pick in the divisional round. Van Noy, Jason McCourty (70 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble, 10 pass defenses), Devin McCourty (82 tackles, half a tackle for loss, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, four pass defenses, TD), Ja’Whaun Bentley (14 tackles, tackle for loss, pass defense), Dont’a Hightower (sack, pass defense) and Patrick Chung (84 tackles, half a sack, fumble recovery, three pass defenses) each had one interception. All told, the Patriots finished with 30 sacks, 18 interceptions and 64 pass defenses.

Who Has the Edge?

New England was better in the second half of the season when it came to stopping the pass but the fact remains that they have their work cut out for them here. In the first meeting this season, Mahomes threw for 352 yards with four touchdowns. He was intercepted twice but the Patriots didn’t record a sack. That’s going to be a major point of concern. New England was tied for the second-fewest sacks in the league this season and you can’t let Mahomes sit back there and take his time finding a target. Unless the Patriots find a way to get pressure on Mahomes, this one is slanted toward the Chiefs, even with New England’s penchant for picks.

Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs

Special Teams, Coaching, & Intangibles

Special Teams

New England Patriots

Stephen Gostkowski hit 49 of 50 extra points and 27 of 32 field goal attempts with a long of 52 this season. He connected on all five extra points and two field goal attempts in the divisional round. Cordarrelle Patterson was the team’s top kick returner as he averaged 28.8 yards on 23 kick returns, including a 95 yard score. As a team, the Patriots averaged 27 yards on 28 returns. Julian Edelman handled most of the punt returns, averaging 7.7 yards on 20 returns. As a team, the Patriots averaged 7.7 yards on 26 runbacks with a long of 25.

Ryan Allen punted the ball 64 times this season, averaging 45.1 yards per kick, which was good for 16th in the league. He posted a 41.1 yard net average, which was 18th in the league. Allen dropped 21 punts inside the opponent’s 20 yard line with five touchbacks. Kick coverage was mediocre for the Patriots this season. Opposing teams averaged 24.6 yards per return on 42 runbacks with a long of 97. Opposing punt returners averaged 10.2 yards per return on 25 attempts with a long of 33. The Patriots’ special teams unit is ranked in the middle of the pack, sitting 16th according to Football Outsiders.

Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City has been pretty solid in the special teams department this season. Kicker Harrison Butker has drilled 65 of 69 extra point attempts and 24 of his 27 field goal tries with a long of 54 on the season. Tremon Smith has handled the majority of the kick returns this season, averaging 26.8 yards per return on 33 runbacks with a long of 97. As a team, the Chiefs average 24.4 yards per kick return on 40 kick returns. Tyreek Hill has averaged 10.6 yards per return on 20 punt returns, including a 91 yard punt return for a score against the Chargers in week 1. As a team, the Chiefs average 11.9 yards per return on 22 punt returns this year.

The punt game has been decent for the Chiefs as Dustin Colquitt has averaged 44.9 yards per punt this season, which is 20th in the league. The net average for him is impressive as he has a 42.8 yard net average this season, putting him 9th in the league. Twenty-one of his 45 punts have been downed inside the 20 yard line. He did have a punt blocked and recovered for a score that accounted for the lone Colts’ touchdown in the first three quarters last week. Kick coverage has been sound for the Chiefs: they allow 22.5 yards per return on 36 kickoff returns this season. Kansas City limits opposing teams to 5.7 yards on 17 punt returns this season with a long of 55. Football Outsiders has the Chiefs ranked as the second-best special teams unit in the league.

Who Has the Edge?

This one is pretty slanted toward the Chiefs, mainly due to the fact that they have explosiveness in both return games. Smith and Hill are both tremendous returners who can flip the field in a heartbeat and put the Chiefs in a favorable situation. Patterson is a great kick returner but the Patriots lack that big play production on punt returns. The kicking game is pretty even as Gostkowski has proven himself time and again in clutch situations while Butker has been solid. Colquitt, even with last week’s block, is an excellent punter that gets the nod over Allen. All told, Kansas City has the advantage here.

Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs

Coaching

New England Patriots

When you have The Hoodie on the sidelines, there’s not much more that needs to be said. Belichick is 261-123 as a head coach in the NFL and 225-79 with New England. In addition to that, he is 29-11 as a head coach in the postseason. That includes five Super Bowl victories and eight total appearances in the biggest game of the year. Belichick also has four other AFC Championship Game appearances, meaning that he’s appeared in the AFC title game 13 times as a head coach counting this contest. His teams have won double digit games in a season 17 times, including each of the last 16 seasons.

Josh McDaniels is still around as the team’s offensive coordinator after flirting with taking the Indianapolis job last season. He turned down all potential interviews this season to get a head coaching job. That continues to make the Patriots extremely dangerous in that category.

Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid is no slouch as a head coach. This marks his 20th season as a head coach: he spent the first 14 years with Philadelphia and this is his sixth season in Kansas City. In his career, Reid has compiled a 195-124-1 record as a head coach. His teams have made the postseason 14 times and he has a 12-13 record in the postseason. Reid led the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX along with NFC Championship Game appearances in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2008. With Eric Bieniemy hitting all the right buttons on offense, the Chiefs are a force to be reckoned with each and every week.

Reid has gone 65-31 in his six seasons with the Chiefs. Kansas City has plenty of weapons to work with and with the experience that he brings to the table, it makes the Chiefs one of the best prepared teams in the league. Bieniemy is raising his stock with each big performance by the Kansas City offense while Bob Sutton runs the defense. The one knock on Reid is his playoff failures: he’s just 2-4 with the Chiefs in the postseason and twice has seen leads of at least 18 points evaporate.

Who Has the Edge?

It’s going to be a tough matchup for Reid, who was already upended in the Super Bowl when he was with the Eagles by Belichick. The postseason records for both men really tell the tale for this one. Belichick is 29-11 in the postseason while Reid still has a sub-.500 mark at 12-13. The Patriots are making their 13th AFC Championship Game appearance under Belichick. It’s hard to argue against the Hoodie when you get right down to it, regardless of venue, weather or anything else. Give the edge to the Patriots in this category.

Advantage: New England Patriots

Intangibles

New England Patriots

The Patriots are very good on the offensive side of the ball this season as they are 4th in the league with 27.3 points per contest. New England is fifth in total offense as they average 399.6 yards per contest while ranking ninth in yards per play as they pick up 5.9 yards per snap. The Patriots are solid defensively, ranking 7th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 20.3 points per contest. New England is 20th in the league in total defense by allowing 357.7 yards per game and 19th in yards per play by allowing 5.7 yards per snap. In giveaway/takeaway, the Patriots are 5th with a +10 ratio this season.

The Patriots are in the middle of the pack as they are ranked 14th in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone as they cash in 60.94 percent of their chances. Defensively, New England has struggled as they are 21st in red zone defense by allowing 61.22 percent of drives to reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Patriots are pretty good in third down conversions, ranking 13th by converting 40.8 percent of their third down situations in addition to seven of 14 fourth downs. New England’s defense is 15th in those situations as they hold the opposition to 38.6 percent success on their third downs. The Patriots are 5th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 52.53 percent of the time this season.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are an offensive juggernaut this season as they lead the league with 35.3 points per contest. Kansas City is first in total offense as they average 425.6 yards per contest while ranking first in yards per play as they pick up 6.8 yards per snap. The Chiefs are just 28th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 27.1 points per contest. Kansas City is 31st in the league in total defense by allowing 405.5 yards per game and 24th in yards per play by allowing 5.9 yards per snap. In giveaway/takeaway, the Chiefs are 6th with a +9 ratio this season.

The Chiefs are among the league’s elite as they are ranked 2nd in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone as they cash in 71.83 percent of their chances. Defensively, Kansas City has struggled as they are 31st in red zone defense by allowing 72.41 percent of drives to reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Chiefs are near the top of the pack in third down conversions, ranking 2nd by converting 47.16 percent of their third down situations in addition to 12 of 15 fourth downs. Kansas City’s defense is 25th in those situations as they hold the opposition to 41.45 percent success on their third downs. The Chiefs are 27th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 48.1 percent of the time this season.

Who Has the Edge?

This one is tough to call as it’s really a battle of two sides of the same coin. Kansas City clearly has the upper hand on the offensive side of the ball as they have the edge in most categories. The Patriots do have a pretty proficient offensive attack however, ranking 4th in the league in the regular season in points per game. On the defensive side of things, you have to give the edge to New England as their numbers are much better than the Chiefs. The Patriots have a slim edge in giveaway/takeaway and a big edge in time of possession. It adds up to a slight edge for the Patriots but one could look at it as a wash if they so chose.

Advantage: Push

Final Outlook – Time to place those bets!

There is the potential for a ton of points with these two offensive attacks on the field. We’re looking at two of the top four scoring offenses in the regular season on the field in this one. When the teams met back in week 6, they combined for 83 points with the game going down to the final play. Both teams showed an ability to run the ball in the divisional round, which was lacking for long stretches in the regular season. Being able to run the ball for the Patriots is extremely important as it will keep the Chiefs’ offense off the field. Whether they can be successful in that department could go a long way toward picking up the victory.

The Patriots are 20-3 at home in playoff games in the Brady/Belichick era but they are just 3-4 on the road. New England has dropped their last two AFC Championship Games on the road: look for that trend to carry here as the Chiefs take advantage of home field to get the win. The Patriots are 2-5 ATS in their last seven meetings against the Chiefs. The Chiefs are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win of more than 14 points. The over is 6-1 in the Patriots’ last seven playoff games and 5-1 in their last six in January. Kansas City has seen the over go 3-0-1 in their last 4 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game and 5-0 in Chiefs last 5 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game. The teams have gone over the total in each of the last four meetings: this one likely is full of fireworks again and goes over the total.

Updated on Jan 20 at 10:25am EST

This game may have two of the healthiest teams when it comes to postseason runs in recent memory. New England has just one name on its injury report and that is DE Deatrich Wise Jr., who is probable with an ankle injury. On the flip side of the ball, Kansas City’s lone player ruled out is LB Dorian O’Daniel, who doesn’t play much of a role on that side of the ball. The Chiefs expect Sammy Watkins, who returned last week after missing the final six games of the regular season, to play. Also expected to see action are safety Eric Berry and RB Spencer Ware, both of whom sat out last week. Kansas City also activated guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif off IR and he’s been practicing: he’s expected to rotate in with the starters on the offensive line.

Weather was expected to be a major factor all week long but it appears that Mother Nature is a Kansas City fan. After forecasts of blizzard type conditions with frigid temperatures, it seems that the precipitation has run its course. It will still be cold but the lack of snow will make things easier for Hill, among others, to utilize their blinding speed and agility. Game-time temperature is expected to be around 20 degrees with the winds coming in from the north at around 10 miles an hour. That will drop the wind chill down around the 10 degree mark. There is less than a 10 percent chance of precipitation around kickoff and that number drops to zero as the night wears on. Basically, if you’re dressed properly, there is little excuse that one can blame the weather for poor results.

The opening line for this contest had the Chiefs favored by three points with the over/under set at 57.5. During the course of the week, we’ve seen the line stay steady all week long as it has stayed frozen at -3. The over/under bumped down to 54.5 amidst concerns regarding the weather before moving back up to its current mark of 56. When the moneyline opened, the Chiefs were going off at -145 while the Patriots were getting +125 odds. As the week has worn on, it has shifted to the Chiefs going off around -165 or -170 while New England is going at +145 or +150 depending on the sportsbook.

Currently, 59 percent of the bets on the moneyline are backing the Patriots. When it comes to the point spread, 55 percent of the bets are backing Kansas City -3 in an effort to cash in. As it stands, 57 percent of the bets, a solid majority, are on this one going over the 56 point total set for the game.

Kansas City was much tougher defensively at home (18 points per game allowed) than they were on the road this season. The Chiefs weren’t as productive offensively though in a bit of a surprise. Kansas City scored 35 points or more just three times at home compared to six times on the road. New England is just 2-3 in conference title games on the road under Brady. In fact, his last road playoff win came back in 2006 against the Chargers. This season, the Patriots were only 3-5 on the road and beat just one team with a winning record away from Foxborough. Brady may be one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game but this is just too tall a task for him here. Kansas City makes their first trip to the Super Bowl in nearly half a century.

New England Patriots 31, Kansas City Chiefs 37

Additional Updates

Bonus Take From Ben Hayes

It will be a cold one in Kansas City on Sunday night but there is one hot team that will remain standing after this one. The Kansas City Chiefs not only have the home field advantage and the revenge factor, but they have the better overall team. They are physical up front and that’s important in a very cold game so they can pound the rock when they need to. New England is also a terrible road team this season at 3-5 SU and the Chiefs are 8-1 SU at home and 5-4 ATS at home this season. Tom Brady is 3-4 on the road in the playoffs. Mahomes will earn his first trip to the Super Bowl after shredding the Pats secondary. Kansas City 28-17.

Bonus Take From Ricky Dimon

New England may be the team with the aura and the history, but the bottom line is these aren’t the same Patriots as the ones from the last 15-plus years. Tom Brady is aging (well, sort of), Rob Gronkowski is wearing down, and those two don’t have nearly as much help as they used to. The Pats have lost five times this season and all five setbacks have come against teams that did not make the playoffs. Well, the Chiefs not only made the playoffs but also earned the AFC’s No. 1 seed. All five of NE’s losses have come on the road and now the team must go to Arrowhead Stadium. Likely MVP Patrick Mahomes should be able to pass and run all over an opponent that teams no longer fear. Chiefs 31-23.

Bonus Take From David Hess

This will be an exciting game, just like the one over in the NFC. The Patriots are a strong home team, where they went undefeated this year, but they have struggled on road, where they have gone just 3-5 on the year. The Patriots have averaged just 21.6 ppg on the road this year, compared to 33.8 ppg at home. The offense is just not the same away from home and they will be facing a Kansas City Team that has averaged 32.2 ppg at home for the year. The weather will be cold and that may favor the team from the Northeast, but I just don’t see that New England defense coming up with enough stops to win this one. Patrick Mahomes has been a beast all year and he will take down Brady and company and head off to his first Super Bowl appearance. Kansas City 30-21

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Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.

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