The top two seeds in the AFC face off in Kansas City for the opportunity to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. Kansas City is coming off a 31-13 win over the Colts. The Patriots enter the contest after defeating the LA Chargers 41-28 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. The Chiefs are a three-point home favorite, although the consensus is that the Patriots have a slightly better than 50 percent chance of pulling off the upset.
Taking a closer look at the teams statistically and the Chiefs were the number one scoring team in the league, putting up over 35 points per game. The Patriots were excellent offensively as well, averaging 27.3 per game. On the flip side, the Patriots were very solid in points allowed, ranked 7th, while the Chiefs were only 24th, resulting in many shootouts.
The game could be a battle of the quarterback. The future Hall of Famer and likely greatest of all time, Tom Brady against the young superstar Patrick Mahomes. How will Mahomes fair in the biggest game of his young career? So far, he's been outstanding to say the least. He threw for 5097 yards and 50 touchdowns, while adding 272 on the ground and four touchdowns.
Mahomes should have plenty of time to throw with an offensive line that allowed only 26 sacks this season against a New England pass rush that was less than stellar. He will look for top targets Tyreke Hill and Travis Kelce, who combined for a remarkable 190 receptions, 2815 yards and 22 touchdowns. The ground game is clearly not the Chiefs top priority, however they still average nearly five yards a carry with Damien Williams and Spencer Ware getting most of the work.
New England counters with an attack that gets the running backs involved significantly. James White had a career day receiving out of the backfield last week and caught 87 passes for seven touchdowns in the regular season. He added four rushing touchdowns, while rookie Sony Michel lead the team with 931 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
Brady was only sacked 21 times this season, however the Patriots could have an issues with the Chiefs pass rush lead by Chris Jones (15.5 sacks) and Dee Ford (13 sacks). If Brady cannot stay upright, they will have little shot of keeping pace with the Chiefs potent attack. Quick passes to the likes of Julian Edelman and much injured tight end Rob Gronkowksi will be essential.
Both teams have solid kicking games, particularly from inside of 40 yards. Neither Harrison Butker nor Stephen Gostkowski missed from under 40. However, Gostkowski hit only 6-of-11 from beyond 40, giving the edge on long kicks to the Chiefs.
This contest should be another high scoring affair, which is generally the case with the Chiefs. Very few teams can match them offensively. The Patriots could, but will need an outstanding defensive effort to do so. Look for Kansas City to hold home field advantage and advance to the Super Bowl.