The 11-5 (1-0) New England Patriots:
Throughout their 41-28 playoff whipping of the Los Angeles Chargers, the 11-5 (1-0) New England Patriots looked dominant on both sides of the ball after going into the locker room at the half leading 35-7.
Despite having no apparent deep threat receivers after losing Josh Gordon to an indefinite suspension, GOAT quarterback Tom Brady fed the ball to his teammates and moved up and down the field at will against the Chargers 9th ranked defense.
New England hasn’t done well on the road (3-5), but this is the playoffs and it’s likely this matchup will be similar to the shootout these two teams had in Week 6, the winner being whichever team ends up with the ball last.
The 12-4 (1-0) Kansas City Chiefs:
The 12-4 (1-0) Kansas City Chiefs pummeled the Indianapolis Colts on a slightly snowy postseason field of play last weekend 31-13 after going up 17-0 with six minutes left in the first half.
Chiefs young quarterback Patrick Mahomes proved the lights weren’t too bright during his first playoff appearance as he had a fairly quiet game (by his standards) completing 27-of-41 for 278 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions.
Mahomes will have to have one of his biggest games yet to defeat the high-scoring Patriots, because despite his Chiefs being 7-1 at Arrowhead and slightly favored, their defense is much weaker than New England’s, so to win, the second-year phenom will have to score just about every time he’s on the field.
What’s at stake:
These two teams have met 36 times (including 1 postseason game), with Kansas City winning 18 games and New England winning 15 games, and they have also tied 3 times.
Their latest meeting was this season in Week 6, which the Patriots won by a score of 43-40.
Whoever wins this matchup goes to the Big Game, Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, GA.
They’ll play the winner of the NFC Conference Championship game, either the first-seeded 13-3 (2-0) New Orleans Saints or the second-seeded 13-3 (2-0) Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, February 3 at either 5:30 pm on CBS.
And of course, whichever team loses this one goes home, their 2018 season finally over.
Questions to answer…
Who’s favored to win this AFC Conference Championship Patriots-Chiefs matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Patriots and the Chiefs and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Patriots offense ranked 5th in the NFL
New England’s offense was effective during the regular season, averaging 393.4 total yards and 27.2 points per game, which they far surpassed against the Chargers with almost 500 total yards (498) and 41 points.
Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady put up impressive numbers in the playoff win, completing 34-of-44 for 343 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
Slot receiver Julian Edelman was (once again) Brady’s most productive target, catching 9 balls for 151 yards, averaging 16.8 yards per catch.
Patriots’ rushing attack ranked 5th overall
Rookie Sony Michel has taken over the Patriots running duties, carrying the ball 24 times against the Chargers for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Running back James White didn’t mind, since all he did during that game was catch 15 balls for 97 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per catch.
New England offensive Injuries
Currently no Patriots are listed as questionable for AFC Conference Championship game.
The 2018 Chiefs offense ranked 1st overall
During the regular season, Kansas City led the league in average yards (425.6) and points (35.3) per game, and in their first 2019 postseason game, they came close with 433 total yards and 31 points.
Mahomes, the man who threw a league-leading 50 regular season touchdowns, threw none in his first playoff game, though his connection with his receivers was certainly there.
Always playing at the top of his game is Second-team All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, who caught 7 balls for 108 yards against the Colts, averaging 15.4 yards per catch.
Kansas City’s run game 16th in the league
Despite missing running back Spencer Ware (hamstring), the Chiefs’ rushing attack was deadly against the Colts, scoring all four of the team’s touchdowns, one apiece for Damien Williams, Tyreek Hill, Darrel Williams and Mahomes.
Williams has stepped up since the release of Kareem Hunt, running the ball 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.2 yards per carry against Indianapolis.
Kansas City offensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for AFC Conference Championship game: running back Spencer Ware (hamstring)
Patriots Defense ranks 21st in the league
Teams who play New England can expect to score an average of 20.3 points and move the ball 359.1 total yards per game, their rushing defense ranked 11th and their passing defense ranked 22nd.
The Patriots were tied for the third most interceptions (18) in the regular season, but only one team had less sacks than New England (30).
Patriots Defensive Players to watch:
Leading New England in post-season tackles are strong safety Patrick Chung and free safety Devin McCourty, who both had seven combined tackles against the Chargers.
Defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Trey Flowers each sacked Philip Rivers once last week.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore had an interception off Rivers and he defended against three of his passes.
Patriots defensive injuries
Listed as questionable for AFC Conference Championship game: defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. (ankle)
Chiefs Defense is 31st overall
Kansas City’s defense has been allowing opponents to score an average of 26.3 points and move the ball 405.5 yards per game, their rushing defense ranked 27th and their passing defense ranked 31st.
Despite their overall low ranking, The Chiefs defense’s 15 interceptions are tied for ninth most, while their 52 sacks are more than any other team’s regular season total.
Chiefs Defensive Players to watch:
So far the best postseason tacklers for Kansas City are inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens and strong safety Eric Murray, who each had 7 combined tackles against Indianapolis.
The Chiefs continued their sacking dominance in the post season – outside linebacker Justin Houston sacked Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck twice last weekend and outside linebacker Dee Ford sacked him once.
The Chiefs couldn’t intercept Luck, but cornerback Steven Nelson had four picks during the regular season (T-7th), so he’ll be a definite thorn in Tom Brady’s side.
Chiefs Defensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for AFC Conference Championship game: linebacker Dorian O’Daniel (calf) and defensive back Eric Berry (heel).
Special Teams Stats Comparison
New England’s punter, Ryan Allen, has been a Patriot all six of his NFL years and has punted 64 times in the regular season for a net average of 39.5 yards per punt, ranked 20th in the NFL.
In the postseason, Allen has punted 4 times for a net average of 33.3 yards per punt.
Kansas City’s 14-year veteran punter, Dustin Colquitt, has been a Chief his whole career and during the regular season he punted 45 times for a net average of 40.5 yards per punt, ranked 14th in the league.
In the postseason, Colquitt has punted 3 times for a net average of 27.5 yards per punt.
New England’s veteran placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, who has spent all 13 of his NFL seasons as a Patriot, was 27-for-32 in the regular season, his longest a 52-yarder.
Gostkowski missed one extra point attempt (49/50), which happened in Week 14 in the first quarter of the team’s one-point loss to the Dolphins, followed by a missed field goal later in the game.
In the postseason, Gostkowski has gone 2-for-2, his longest a 30-yarder and has missed no extra point attempts (5/5).
Kansas City’s placekicker, Harrison Butker, was an All-Rookie last season and so far, he’s 24-for-27, his longest was a 54-yarder.
Butker has missed four extra point attempts (65/69).
In the postseason, Butker has gone 1-for-1, his longest a 39-yarder and has missed no extra point attempts (4/4).
New England’s punt returner, wide receiver Julian Edelman, is ranked 36th in the league in return average this regular season.
Edelman returned 20 punts for 154 yards, averaging 7.7 yards per return, his longest for 25 yards.
In the postseason, Edelman has returned 5 punt for 37 yards.
Kansas City’s punt returner, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, was ranked 20th in the league in return average during the regular season.
Hill returned 20 punts for 213 yards and a touchdown, averaging 10.7 yards per return, his longest a 91-yard return for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1.
In the postseason, Hill has returned 5 punts for 6 yards.
Patriots–Chiefs prediction and odds
The odds makers have the Chiefs favored over the Patriots by 2.5 with an over/under of 54.5.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Will Brinson goes with the over and has it Chiefs 31, Patriots 28
John Breech takes the over and predicts it Chiefs 30, Patriots 27