The AFC Championship is this Sunday at 6:40 p.m., and the New England Patriots (2-seed, 11-5) will be playing against the Kansas City Chiefs (1-seed, 12-4) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. With so much elite offensive talent on the field and two outstanding quarterbacks, this game is sure to be electrifying.
There are many bold headlines that make this year’s AFC Championship so intriguing. The 41-year old quarterback playing in his eighth consecutive conference title game trying to cement his status as the greatest of all time against the first-year starter with eye-popping stats starting in his second career playoff game. Two stacked offenses that have elite players at every position. Two defenses that have shown many gaping holes throughout the season but have made the big plays when they have mattered most. Between the freezing temperature and the raucous Chiefs’ crowd, this game has all the factors of an all-time classic.
There are plenty of reasons be nervous as a Patriots fan. The Patriots’ defense has been porous on the road this season. They give up an average of 24.0 points per game on the road in the regular season, as opposed to just 16.6 points per game at home, and this Chiefs offense is absolutely loaded. The Pats’ D gave up 40 points to the Chiefs at home in Week 6, and so there is a real worry how they will fare in Arrowhead on the road. Patrick Mahomes is surrounded by weapons all over the field, and his pocket mobility and ability to evade pass rushers could give the Patriots’ defense fits. The Kansas City defense only gave up 18.0 points per game at home, and so the Patriots’ offense will need to be on their A-game to keep up with the Chiefs.
There is one player that changes everything about how this game looks on paper, though, and that is Tom Brady. Brady is 12-2 in his playoff career when the temperature drops below 30 degrees, and since the game in Kansas City is projected to be right around 20° Fahrenheit, Brady will be in familiar territory. On the defensive side, secondary stalwarts Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, and Patrick Chung will have their hands full with the Chiefs’ arsenal of weapons, but the pass rush, which consistently pressured Philp Rivers last week, will look to help the cause. In addition, Bill Belichick has a history of outcoaching Andy Reid in big games, from the 2005 Super Bowl to the 2016 AFC Divisional round playoffs. Belichick is sure to have something up his sleeve to try and slow down the potent Chiefs’ offense.
At the end of the day, it is tough to ever pick against Tom Brady in the playoffs. Expect Sony Michel to have a big game and the Patriots to come out and run the ball early in order to control the clock and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field. Playoff experience and coaching always matter in close playoff games, and. I believe that Brady will find a way to get the job done, just as he always does, and the Patriots will win a close one, 34-30 in Arrowhead to advance to Super Bowl 53.