The Pats march past the Chiefs in OT to advance to Super Bowl LIII!

 

TEAM

1

2

3

4

OT

T

KC 0 0 7 24 0 31

NE

7 7 3 14 6 37

What a game!!!

The Patriots secured a berth in Super Bowl LIII yesterday, as they triumphed over the Kansas City Chiefs (13-5) 37-31 in a thrilling contest that went into overtime. The Patriots dominated the Chiefs in the first half, as they grabbed a 14-point lead going into halftime, but the Chiefs roared back, led by their young phenom Patrick Mahomes, and gave the Patriots almost all they could handle.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday’s AFC Championship Game. 

1. TB12 and his weapons came up clutch again!

When the Chiefs took the lead just under 8 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, it appeared as if the Pats had squandered their chance to advance to the Super Bowl, as they had just turned the ball over (due to a drop by Julian Edelman), and watched their lead evaporate in just 10 seconds of game time. The Pats were able to answer the Chiefs by driving down the field, partly aided by an incredible one-handed catch by Chris Hogan, which was upheld following a challenge by Andy Reid. After the Chiefs retook the lead, Tom Brady and the offense had to drive 65 yards with just under 2 minutes left in the game. For a moment, it appeared as if the game was over, as an errant pass went off the hands of Rob Gronkowski and was caught by Charvarius Ward, who seemed to have clinched the AFC for the Chiefs. However, the Pats were aided by the left arm of defensive end Dee Ford, which was over the line of scrimmage, and gave the Pats a second chance. They didn’t waste their opportunity, as their next play was a 25 yard pass to Gronk that got them to the 4-yard line. The Pats quickly scored, but the Chiefs answered, which sent the game to overtime.

Similarly to Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, the Pats won the coin toss, and never looked back, as they methodically marched the ball down the field against the Chiefs. A common criticism of the Pats this season has been that their main targets (Gronk and Edelman) were too old and banged up to have an impact on a game. They changed the narrative last night, as the duo came up big on 3 consecutive third downs, which enabled the Patriots to win the game.

A vintage performance by Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, & Rob Gronkowski has the Patriots in prime position to win another Super Bowl.

gronk v chiefs 19ccg.jpg
(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

2. The running backs were impactful!

The  Pats employed a similar game plan to their Divisional Round victory against the LA Chargers, as they came out running the football during their opening drive that went on for over 8 minutes, and resulted with a touchdown by Sony Michel. Michel and James White were a big part of the offense during the first half, as they were utilized to run the football constantly in an effort to burn the clock and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. In the second half, Rex Burkhead was primarily used, and he definitely delivered, as he scored 2 touchdowns, including the eventual game winner. 

The Pats will need another solid performance by their running backs if they want to have a good chance of winning Super Bowl LIII.

sony v kc 19.jpg
(Denny Medley / USA TODAY Sports)

3. The offensive line was simply remarkable

I don’t believe that any unit in this game had more of an impact than the offensive line for the Patriots, as their brilliance was unmatched last night. Kansas City entered this game as the NFL’s top sacking defense, with superstars on the defensive line, including Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Chris Jones. The Chiefs’ pass-rushing duo never got close to Brady during the game, as they were utterly and completely neutralized. The Chiefs had zero sacks and only hit Brady once. 

They were also heavily efficient in the running game, as they were able to constantly produce gaping holes that enabled their running backs to run rampant through the Chiefs’ defense.

The Pats’ offensive line will need to maintain this performance for them to succeed in the Super Bowl.

offensive line v kc 19ccg.jpg
(Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

4. The defense did enough to win

As I mentioned in my preview for this game, the Pats were not going to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, due to the immense talent permeating throughout their offense. However, they did succeed in slowing him down enough for the offense to grab an early lead, which allowed them to weather the second half explosion by Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Pats were able to get after Mahomes consistently, as they sacked him 4 times and hit him 10 times. Kyle Van Noy was extremely efficient in the first half, as he sacked Mahomes twice (including a strip sack that ended the half). The Pats had a great performance against Tyreek Hill (1 catch for 42 yards) and Travis Kelce (3 catches for 23 yards and 1 touchdown) who were virtually non-existent for the majority of this game. However, Sammy Watkins and  Damien Williams caused problems for the Patriots, as they were essential in sparking Kansas City’s comeback. 

I think that Bill Belichick and Brian Flores did a remarkable job in crafting the game plan, as they shut out the Chiefs for the first time at home during the Reid era. As mentioned by Tony Romo, Mahomes is a unique quarterback who is extremely hard to defend against. Hence, I don’t think that we can be too hard on the performance of Belichick’s defense.

For the second time this season, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs scored 31 in the second half against the Patriots, but New England’s first half heroics ensured that they would emerge victorious.

In order to prevent the result of last year’s Super Bowl, the Pats’ defense will need to be at the top of their game.

mahomes fumble 19ccg.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

  • Passing: Tom Brady – 30/46 for 348 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions
  • Rushing: Sony Michel – 29 carries for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • Receiving: Julian Edelman – 7 receptions for 96 yards
  • Defensive: Kyle Van Noy – 10 tackles (including 2 sacks)

Chiefs

  • Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 16/31 for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • Rushing: Damien Williams – 10 carries for 30 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Receiving: Sammy Watkins – 4 receptions for 114 yards
  • Daniel Sorenson – 14 tackles and 1 interception

 

What’s next?: The Pats head to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII (on February 3rd at 6:30 EST on CBS), where they’ll take on the Los Angeles Rams (15-3) in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI. It’ll be interesting to see how the Pats match up against the likes of Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley, while coaching against the wunderkind Sean McVay. 

Battle at Arrowhead!: Who will advance to Super Bowl LIII?

The Patriots head to Arrowhead Stadium tomorrow to take on the Kansas City Chiefs (13-4) for the right to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LIII.  The Patriots will undoubtedly face their toughest task of the season, as the Chiefs usually take it up a notch when they’re in front of their rabid fans at Arrowhead Stadium, which will test the Pats on both sides of the ball. 

Here are a few things to consider entering the AFC Championship Game.

1. Will Brady, Michel & the offense deliver?

The last time the Pats met the Chiefs, Tom Brady and Sony Michel were both remarkable, as Brady threw for more than 300 yards, and Michel ran for more than 100 yards. To have any chance of keeping up with the explosive offense fielded by Andy Reid, Brady and Michel will need to be at their absolute best. Bill Belichick and his staff will definitely be looking at the Divisional Round game played between the Chiefs and the Colts, where Kansas City’s defensive line dominated Indianapolis’ previously impervious offensive line. This resulted in Andrew Luck and Marlon Mack being stifled by a Chiefs defense that had been dreadful throughout the season. Hence, I believe that for the Patriots to have offensive success, their offensive line will need to have an assertive performance at the line of scrimmage, as this would allow Brady to have time to deliver the ball in a clean pocket. Rob Gronkowski and James Develin will also need to be at their a-game, as their blocking would enable Michel to have the space required to gash the Chiefs on the ground. Julian Edelman and the rest of the receivers will also need to be as efficient as they were in Week 6 against Kansas City, because they’ll permit the Pats to stretch the field with play action.

I believe that the key for victory will be a dominant performance on the ground, as this will allow the Pats to control the time of possession and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. Also, starting hot will be especially important, because it will be hard to play from behind against a lethal team like Kansas City.

sony michel v chiefs ccgp.jpg
(Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

2. Can the defense stifle the high-powered Chiefs?

The last time the Pats faced off against Patrick Mahomes, he torched them for 352 yards and 4 passing touchdowns. Mahomes maintained his explosive performance throughout the season, as he ended up throwing 50 touchdowns, and is considered to be the 2018-19 MVP. Coach Belichick and Brian Flores will have to craft another impressive game plan this week, because the way to defeat Mahomes is to force him to make mistakes in situations when he would normally be unflappable. The reason why the Patriots emerged victorious in Week 6 is because they were able to cause two turnovers in the first half, which allowed them to jump out to an early lead. It is important to understand that the Pats will not be able to stop Mahomes, due to the potency of his abilities, so their strategy for victory will be to slow him down. The way to do this is to get after him with constant and consistent pressure, and to confuse him with their coverages.

The next thing to consider about the Chiefs’ offense is their receivers. The Pats will need to be focused on the big play ability of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, who can burn the Pats for explosive plays if given the opportunity. In my opinion, the Pats will need to double Hill with either Jason McCourty or J.C. Jackson, and Devin McCourty helping out over the top. Kelce would likely be covered by Patrick Chung, which is not a matchup that would be very favorable for the Pats. However, if I was Bill Belichick, I would rather be burned by Kelce than Hill. Stephon Gilmore would most probably matchup against his old teammate Sammy Watkins, who he limited to 18 yards in Week 6.

Luckily for the Patriots, they will not have to face off against their kryptonite, Kareem Hunt, who has over 400 yards of total scrimmage yards in 2 career games against them. Damien Williams has been quite efficient in replacing Hunt, as he has had over 100 rushing yards in 2 of the last 3 games he’s played in. Stopping the run will allow them to focus in on Mahomes and the passing attack.

Making enough stops and forcing turnovers will give the Patriots a good chance of advancing to Super Bowl LIII.

mahomes v pats w6
(Photo via SI)

Injury Report:

Patriots

  • No players listed

Chiefs

  • Dorian O’Daniel (ankle) – Out

 

PredictionPatriots 35, Chiefs 31

 

Here is my pick for the NFC Championship Game. 

Last week: 3-1

Rams at SaintsRams

The Pats outlast the high-octane Chiefs in Sunday Night thriller!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

KC 6 3 17 14 40

NE

10 14 3 16 43

What a game!

Last night’s Week 6 contest between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) definitely lived up to the hype, as the two teams flexed their offensive might in a game that had 83 combined points. The Pats eventually prevailed on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that gave them the 43-40 win. 

Here are some takeaways from last night’s game.

1. The Pats offense was sensational!

A mere three weeks after looking absolutely inept on the offensive side of the ball against the Detroit Lions during a Week 3 clunker, the Patriots went toe to toe with one of the NFL’s best offenses with Tom Brady and Sony Michel leading the way. Brady was pretty unflappable throughout the game, as he had 340 passing yards and 1 passing touchdown, along with a jaw-dropping 4 yard touchdown run (only 15 yards away from 1,000 career rushing yards!). Sony Michel continued his stretch of dominance as he gashed the porous Chiefs defense for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 24 carries. Michel demonstrated the quickness and agility he had at Georgia, as he was able to find his way through holes and pick up huge chunks of yardage. The Pats also enjoyed solid contributions from Julian Edelman ( 4 catches for 54 yards and 1 touchdown), Chris Hogan (4 catches for 78 yards), Josh Gordon ( 5 catches for 42 yards), and James White (6 rushes for 39 yards, and 5 catches for 53 yards). Rob Gronkowski was quiet for most of the game, but he came up clutch when the Patriots needed big plays to seal the deal. For instance, he had a huge 42-yard gain on the drive that increased their lead to 7 (which was aided by an impressive stiff arm!). On the game-winning drive, Gronk also had a 39 yard catch which put the Patriots in range to finish off the Chiefs. #87 finished with 3 catches for 97 yards).

More than anything, I would say that this game showed the mental toughness of the Patriots’ offense, as they were able to shake off losing their 15 point halftime lead, and miscues (such as Tom Brady’s fumble) and still have the ability to drive down the field at will. The Pats were able to win this game because their playmakers came up big when they were required to do so. 

gronk stiff arm vs chiefs.jpg
(Photo by Stephen Senne/AP)

2. The defense had its moments…

It’s hard to fault the Patriots’ defense for giving up 40 points, due to the explosiveness of their opponent, but the Pats were absolutely dissected by Patrick Mahomes and his assortment of weapons.

The first half was very efficient for the Pats defense, as they were able to get after Mahomes, and force him into 2 interceptions. The pressure in his face also forced him to miss wide-open receivers on what would have been sure-fire touchdowns. Limiting the Chiefs to 9 points in the first half was definitely a victory for the Patriots.

The second half was a completely different story for Mahomes and his offense, as evidenced by their opening drive, when Kareem Hunt torched the secondary for a 67-yard touchdown. To be fair to the Patriots’ defense, the next two touchdowns they gave up were not completely on them. The first one was due to a Tom Brady fumble deep in Pats’ territory, while the second one was due to a brilliant kickoff return that set them up mere yards away from the end zone. At the same time, the Pats’ secondary (especially the McCourty twins) could not seem to stop the blazing fast Tyreek Hill who burned them for 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns. The secondary’s performance could be epitomized by Hill’s final touchdown, when he was open down the field and outran everyone in the secondary to tie the game at 40. Luckily enough for the Pats’ defense, the Pats’ offense had their back, as they used up the rest of the clock en route to a game-winning field goal.

The Pats defense should not be demoralized, but they can’t depend on the offense to score more than 40 points and bail them out every time they fail to stop their opponent. An example of this could be Super Bowl LII where both defenses struggled, with Philadelphia winning the game due to a strip-sack of Brady on what could have been a game-winning drive. 

mahomes v pats w6.jpg
(Photo via SI)

3. Playoff implications?

It’s never too early to talk about playoff implications in the NFL…

With a win last night, the Chiefs would have given themselves a great opportunity to eventually seize home-field advantage in the AFC. due to victories over the Jaguars, Steelers and the Patriots. However, due to the fact that the Patriots won last night, they will gain a head-to-head edge over the Chiefs, which will definitely come in handy if the two teams finish with the same record. 

Regardless of who finishes with the better record, it would be very entertaining to see these teams battle once more in January.

tb v chiefs w6.jpg
(Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

Passing: Tom Brady – 24/35 for 340 yards and 1 touchdown

Rushing: Sony Michel – 24 carries for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns

Receiving: Rob Gronkowski – 3 catches for 97 yards

Defensive: Trey Flowers and Elandon Roberts with 7 tackles each

Chiefs

Passing: Patrick Mahomes – 23/36 for 352 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions

Rushing: Kareem Hunt – 10 carries for 80 yards

Receiving: Tyreek Hill – 7 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns

Defensive: Anthony Hitchens – 14 tackles

 

What’s next: The Pats head to the Windy City to take on Khalil Mack and the fearsome Chicago Bears (3-2)

 

Showtime vs the GOAT!

On Sunday Night Football, the Patriots take on the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) in a contest that may help to determine the flow of the 2019 AFC Playoffs. Coming off of a dominant 2-game winning streak, the Patriots will have their hands full against second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his assortment of weapons…

Here are some things to consider entering Sunday’s game.

1. More of the same?

The last two times the Patriots have faced the Chiefs in the regular season, it has been rather lopsided in favor of Kansas City, as Andy Reid’s team has outscored the Pats 83-44, which may not sound encouraging for most Pats fans. Both games (in 2014 & 2017, respectively) featured an absolutely porous New England defense, along with Tom Brady running for his life, due to the inability of the offensive line to protect him. Most analysts project this game to be a shootout (which doesn’t bode well for the Pats defense), but Brady should be much more well-protected, as his offensive line is now amongst the top ten offensive lines in the league.

james white v chiefs 17.jpg
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. Gronk vs Kelce

Rob Gronkowski has been one of the most dominant tight ends in NFL history, ever since his entry to the league in 2010. Gronk’s position as the NFL’s top tight end has not really been questioned until now, as there are several analysts who now believe that Kansas City’s tight end, Travis Kelce, has surpassed Gronk. Reporters took advantage of this week’s matchup to question Gronk on his feelings about Kelce. Naturally, Gronk complimented Kelce’s ability as a pass-catcher and made a point of mentioning that this week’s game was between the Patriots and the Chiefs, not Gronk and Kelce. Putting my bias aside, I truly believe that Gronk is the superior tight end, as he is both a dynamic pass-catcher and a hell of a blocker for the running game. In comparison, Kelce is a great pass-catcher who benefits from having dynamic talents around him, and at the same time, he cannot block well at all.

gronk kelce.jpg
(Photo via NBC Sports)

3. Slowing down Mahomes & Co.

Patrick Mahomes has been seen as a legitimate MVP candidate due to his performance over the last 5 weeks, as he has thrown for over 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns. Mahomes has demonstrated an ability to get away from pressure and dissect defenses down the field with his impressive throwing arm. Unfortunately for the Pats, they’ll also have to deal with running back Kareem Hunt, who had his coming out party against them in last year’s opener, with over 250 total yards from scrimmage. Add in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to the mix, and it’s going to be hard for the Patriots to shut down all of Kansas City’s weapons. Luckily enough for Bill Belichick, he and his staff have had over 10 days to prepare for the Chiefs, so expect the Pats to have some tricks up their sleeves.

mahomes 1.jpg
(Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)

4. Can the Brady Bunch keep pace with KC?

Last week’s game against the Colts was a good omen for the Pats offense, as they welcomed back Julian Edelman back from suspension, and received valuable contributions from other playmakers including Josh Gordon, Sony Michel, and James White. At the same time, the offense was slightly sloppy in the second half, which made the game too close for comfort. The Pats will need to be on their A-game on Sunday if they hope to keep up with Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Pats should be in for a shootout, as Kansas City’s defense currently ranks as the NFL’s worst defense in terms of yards allowed and they may be playing without two of their most important defenders in Eric Berry and Justin Houston, respectively. If the Pats can play at their highest potential, they will have a good chance of knocking off the undefeated Chiefs.

brady td v chiefs 16.jpg
(Photo by Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

Injury Report

Patriots

  • Malcom Brown (knee) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle) – Questionable
  • Chris Hogan (thigh) – Questionable
  • Sony Michel (knee) – Questionable
  • Eric Rowe (groin) – Questionable
  • Danny Shelton (elbow) – Questionable
  • John Simon (shoulder) – Questionable

Chiefs

  • Eric Berry (heel) – Doubtful
  • Justin Houston (hamstring) – Doubtful
  • Tanoh Kpassagnon (ankle) – Questionable
  • Eric Murray (ankle) – Out
  • De’Anthony Thomas (tibia) – Out

Prediction: Patriots 37, Chiefs 31

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 6 contests

Last week: 8-6

Buccaneers at Falcons: Falcons

Panthers at Redskins: Panthers

Seahawks at Raiders: Seahawks

Colts at Jets: Colts

Cardinals at Vikings: Vikings

Steelers at Bengals: Bengals

Chargers at Browns: Chargers

Bills at Texans: Texans

Bears at Dolphins: Bears

Rams at Broncos: Rams

Ravens at Titans: Ravens

Jaguars at Cowboys: Jaguars

49ers at Packers: Packers