The Kansas City Chiefs travel to Foxborough, MA, to play the New England Patriots in the 2016 AFC Divisional game on Saturday, January 16 at 4:35 pm. Kansas City (11-5) got to the second round of the playoffs by beating the Houston Texans 30-0 in the wild card game. The Pats had a bye week after winning the AFC East and finishing with the second best record in the conference. The Pats are favored by anywhere from -4.5 to -5.5 and the over/under is at 50 points.
Kansas City Offense vs. Patriots Defense
Against the Texans last week, Chief QB Alex Smith had a solid game, completing 77% of his passes and tossing one touchdown and one interception. Running back Spencer Ware ran for 67 yards and one score, averaging 4.2 YPA. Kansas City scored another TD on the first kickoff return of the game, as Knile Davis had a 106-yard runback. Kicker Cairo Santos was perfect on the day going three of three on extra points and three of three on field goals. One major question for the team is the availability of their leading receiver Jeremy Maclin who is dealing with a high ankle sprain.
Kansas City will need to utilize both their running and passing game more effectively than they did against the Texans. That won’t be easy, as the Pats have 49 sacks, 22 forced fumbles, and 12 picks. Expect DE Chandler Jones (12.5 Sacks, 4 FF) and DL Jabaal Sheard (8.0 Sacks, 4 FF) to offer major contributors. CB Logan Ryan, with four interceptions, leads the team in that category. One very important stat, the Patriots have defended 81 passes, with Ryan defending 14 and CB Malcolm Butler 15. Butler has two picks.
New England Offense vs. Chiefs Defense
The Patriots come into this game rested, having enjoyed the bye week. At the same time, they come in well prepared. Tom Brady is arguably the best quarterback in the league and Ron Gostkowski one of the best placekickers. Brady will toss to TE Rob Gronkowski (72 REC, 11 TDs) and WR Danny Amendola (65 REC, 3 TDs), as well as others. If Julian Edelman (61 REC, 7 TDs) can return from his injury, he’ll have the opportunity to be a major contributor. RB LeGarrette Blount (165 ATT, 703 YDs, 4.6 YPA, 6 TDs) will need to make a substantial contribution in this game.
The Chiefs bring an exceptional defense to this contest. Defensive stats include 47 sacks, 22 interceptions, and 13 forced fumbles as well as 89 passes defended. Top performers include line backers Derrick Johnson (116 TCKLs, 4 Sacks, 8 PD, 2 INTs, 2 FF), Justin Houston (7.5 Sacks, 6 PDs, 2 INTs, 1 FF), and Tamba Hali (6.5 Sacks, 1 FF). In the secondary, CB Marcus Peters (8 INTs, 26 PD, 1 FF) is an amazing defender. He has two touchdowns. If the Chiefs can get to Brady, this can be a long day for the New England quarterback.
Making Your Bets
There are some unknowns that may be major factors in this game. One is the weather, as it is projected to be rainy and cold. It may even snow. That may help the Patriots. Another very important factor is player health. The injury reports are not out yet. We know that New England’s Gronkowski missed practice on Tuesday, but it’s unclear why. Also, Edelman may finally be back in the game, after missing about half of the season with a broken foot. For the Chiefs a major concern is Maclin.
Kansas City has won 11 games straight. The Patriots come into this game with a 2-3 record over their last five games. But momentum does not carryover from game to game. If the Pats have an advantage, it is that they come to this game rested. If the Chiefs have an advantage, it’s that they have no cobwebs to shake off from taking a week off. Most teams, however, benefit from the time off.
This is a tough call. Take the Chiefs at -5.5. We expect this game to be under the 50 points. Final score will be around 24- 21 in favor of New England. Thus, the Pats win but don’t cover. The weather and two sound defenses will keep the score low.