Following a thrilling Wild-Card weekend of NFL playoff action, the Divisional Round can only hope to match half of the intensity and drama on display from last Saturday and Sunday. In the one game that wasn’t drama-filled, the Kansas City Chiefs were business-like from the outset last Saturday afternoon in their dismantling of the Houston Texans. Their offense was clinical and their defense was formidable as is often the case. Kansas City enters Foxboro, Massachusetts on a roll right now, riding a wave of confidence. And although Jeremy Maclin is slated to be out for Kansas City, the Chiefs still do many things on both sides of the football that could give Bill Belechick and his banged-up Patriots squad some issues. This promises to be a great game to get the weekend off on a good note. Read on below for a full game breakdown and an official selection for this AFC Divisional Round showdown!
Chiefs vs. Patriots Betting Odds:
Kansas City Chiefs +5 (-110)
@ New England Patriots -5 (-110)
Over 43 (-110)
Under 43 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Chiefs vs. Patriots Pick:
Sifting through the long list of injuries on both sides for this match-up can be quite the ordeal. In fact, both AFC games seem to be heavily impacted by injuries. In this one though, we know that Jeremy Maclin should definitely be out for the Chiefs – but that’s really the only impactful injury for Andy Reid’s squad. For the Pats, they’ve got a ton of injuries, but all of their key guys are expected to suit up. What becomes difficult however is measuring how healthy and how effective they can be. Rob Gronkowski will play, but rumours have circulated about a possible knee injection. The star tight end is battling both knee and back issues and will be in pain on Saturday afternoon. Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer, and Dont’a Hightower are all listed as questionable and should play, but their health remains a legitimate concern. The Patriots enter this year’s post-season amid some serious doubt because of their uncertain injury situation, and the Chiefs have the type of team that can take full advantage of this.
Many perceived the Chiefs to be finished when stud running back Jamaal Charles went down with an injury. However, their demise was greatly exaggerated. From Week 6 on, Kansas City boasted the third-most efficient offense in the league. They’ve been especially effective running the football as the two-headed attack of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West have been excellent. Even though the Patriots are decent at defending the run, many of their key personnel in their front-seven are banged up/injured. Expect Kansas City to test this early and often, and get some success in doing so. One thing the Chiefs don’t do particularly well, is block for Alex Smith. He’ll be hurried and pressured in this contest, but Smith is fortunate to always have Travis Kelce at his disposal. Kelce has been excellent this season and should have a monster game on Saturday vs. the Patriots. New England is just 15th in the league in defending the opposition’s tight-ends, and look for both short and long tosses in Kelce’s direction.
On the other side of the football, if the Chiefs can stop or even limit Tom Brady, they’ll be in this game in the 4th quarter. Kansas City doesn’t need to worry about the run game on the back of the washed-up Steven Jackson at all. What they should focus on is the passing game, and stopping the likes of Amendola, Edelman, and Gronkowski. Even though that trio is likely pretty banged-up, they still have the ability to break this game open. This Chiefs defense though is excellent and has played quite well of late. All season long, Kansas City ranked third in the NFL in defensive value guarding throws of 15 yards or less. Kansas City does have a weakness on deeper throws, but the Patriots don’t often have the receiving personnel to stretch the field like that, and with the Chiefs focusing on the aerial attack, they should be able to limit this. Expect the Chiefs defense to go toe-to-toe with Brady, and really make moving the chains a difficult ordeal on Saturday afternoon.
This is a tough game to predict with all of the variables and injuries in play. This Chiefs defense should be able to get to Brady and make things hard on the future Hall-of-Famer. Kansas City is playing great football and right now, and they do match-up quite well with New England. They have stifled Gronkowski in the past and the fact that the Chiefs swarm short passes and can get to opposing QB’s will really put a scare into a Patriots team looking to win a Super Bowl. The Pats will be boosted by the return of their ailing veterans, but the Chiefs are going to keep this close. Ultimately, expect a back-and-forth, low-scoring affair with the Pats narrowly squeaking out a field-goal victory. Chiefs get the cover in this one.
PICK = Chiefs +5 (-110)