Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots
Saturday – January 16 – 3:35 PM CT
Gillette Stadium – Foxboro, Massachusetts
Records Before the Game
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, 5-3 away)
New England Patriots (12-4, 7-1 home)
It had been 22 long years since the Kansas City Chiefs won a playoff game before they walked into NRG Stadium in Houston and dominated the Houston Texans last week 30-0. The reward for securing that elusive playoff victory is a trip to Foxboro, Massachusetts to face the AFC East champion New England Patriots. Not too many teams leave Gillette Stadium this time of year with a victory, but the Chiefs riding an 11 game winning streak feel they are primed to do just that.
The Patriots are dealing with some injury issues that could affect quarterback Tom Brady’s ability to move the ball on offense. Receiver Julian Edelman has been out for the last seven games with a broken foot. He is expected to make his return to the lineup but his effectiveness is questionable at this point. All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has continued to battle back from a knee injury he suffered in November. He sat out practice this week to rehab the knee. A trip was made to the hospital on Thursday where an injection was made.
The offensive line’s ability to keep Brady upright will be the telling point of this game. With Tamba Hali and Justin Houston rushing from the edges for the Chiefs, the evening could be a long one for Brady. “Any time you can get to the quarterback and put pressure on him, or make him uncomfortable in the pocket, you can create turnovers” said Houston. The Patriots have been banged up all season long on the line, leading to the 38 sacks suffered to Brady this season. The Chiefs finished fourth in the league in sacks with 47. The Patriots must find a way to give Brady enough time to get the ball down field.
Quarterback Alex Smith enjoyed a solid season for the Chiefs after a rocky start going 1-5 in their first six games of this season. Since then, he has spear headed a charge to the tune of 11 straight victories. The Chiefs won’t blow you away offensively with explosive plays down field or anything. They grind out drives using Smith a lot in the run game. They are able to occasionally find big plays in the passing game with Jeremy Maclin. The speedy receiver is questionable for the game on Saturday after injuring an ankle in last week’s game against the Texans. Tight end Travis Kelce has been a ‘safety blanket’ for Smith all season. He played a big role last week hauling in eight catches for 128 yards from Smith.
The Patriots will have last year’s embarrassing 41-14 defeat to the Chiefs as added motivation on Saturday. If both Gronkowski and Edelman can be somewhat productive in the passing game for Brady, the streaking Chiefs will have a tough time reaching consecutive victory number 12 in Foxoboro.
Prediction: Patriots 27 – Chiefs 24