New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs

Familiar Foes

There will be a lot of familiarity on Sunday. These two teams are just three months removed from an instant classic matchup. Back in week 6, the Patriots outlasted the Chiefs 43-40 on primetime TV. That game, though, was at Foxboro. With the game shifting to Arrowhead Stadium now, what — if anything — will be different this time around?

For one, points should be at more of a premium. In the first meeting, both teams totaled 946 yards of offense and 30 points in the final quarter alone. However, playoff football, especially in the bitter cold of Kansas City, should contain that offensive explosion. 

Sportsbooks seem to agree because the over/under line has dipped since first coming out on Sunday night. The total began at 57.5 points and three entire points have been shaved off since. 

History runs deeper than an October matchup, too. The two head coaches — Bill Belichick and Andy Reid — are very much “frenemies.” Belichick has dominated the head-to-head series with a whopping 6-2 record against Reid, including a Super Bowl victory. 

Reid has dazzled all-season long, helping engineer an offense that scores an NFL-high 35.3 points per game. His masterful playcalling has resulted in an unthinkable season for quarterback Patrick Mahomes that’ll likely earn him an MVP trophy. Still, this is Reid we’re talking about — a coach that is 1-4 all-time in conference championship games.

The question becomes, is Mahomes a big enough difference-maker to help his coach finally get over the hump? After a 50-touchdown and 5,000-plus yard throwing season, he’s clearly an upgrade over prior Reid signal callers such as Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Alex Smith

Patriots @ Chiefs Head-to-Head Trends

  • 1

    The Patriots have won 7 of the last 10 against the Chiefs

  • 2

    Kansas City has covered the spread in six of the prior ten meetings vs. New England

  • 3

    The over has hit in six of the past ten meetings between these two teams

  • 4

    New England won the last meeting 43-40 during week 6 of the 2018 season

Game Preview

Earlier, we mentioned Arrowhead Stadium will be bitter cold on Sunday. If weather forecasts prove to be correct, that might be an understatement. Expectations are for an “artic blast” to sweep through Kansas City in the evening. The storm has its eyes on the entire Midwest, and if it indeed becomes a reality, the AFC Championship could be one of the coldest games played in modern history. 

That immediately shifts both team’s gameplans, especially on offense. Good luck throwing tight spirals with guzzling winds and snowfall. That mean’s this game will be won and lost on the ground. 

That bodes well for the Patriots, who quietly have the fifth-most rushing yards in the league. What’s gotten lost in the season-long talks of New England’s falling dynasty — which after an eighth straight trip to the conference title game, is obviously a myth — is Tom Brady‘s load has lessened. His numbers across the board, whether that be yards, touchdowns, or attempts, is down this season.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bag thing. The Pats are just running more, and that’s not been a bad route. Rookie running back Sony Michel is an emerging star, especially after a three-touchdown performance against the Chargers.

For the Chiefs, Damien Williams has filled in more than admirably since Kareem Hunt was booted from the team. However, most of his success has come from catching passes, not running the rock. Mostly it comes down to Reid being a pass-first play caller. Kansas City finished 23rd in rush attempts during the season.

All in all, we feel New England is more equipped to win a snow-capped playoff game. Running the ball has been its identity all-season long, unlike the Chiefs. Plus, there’s something to say about Brady and Belichick. No matter who is around them, it’s tough to bet against the best quarterback and head coach tandem of all time. Take the Patriots on Sunday.