Patriots-Chiefs AFC Divisional Round Preview

And so the Kansas City Chiefs are the Patriots’ next opponents. They are winners of 11 straight. Yup, that’s 11, I didn’t make a typo. That’s not even to mention the fact that they marched into Houston and convincingly won 30-0. They won every facet in that game, and as I’ve already written, they’re my dark-horse pick for the AFC Champion. That all being said, ask how scared I am?

How scared are you, Tyler?

Absolutely not one bit. Don’t get me wrong, the Patriots could lose this game. I mean, this is the NFL playoffs. Anything can happen. Am I impressed with their effort in Houston last Saturday? I mean, I guess I am. A shutout is a shutout. But I’m not ready to go handing them the crown to anything just yet.

For starters, they beat Houston, forcing 5 turnovers. Keep this in mind… Houston’s quarterback is Brian Hoyer, who’s only job was to not turn the ball over. He couldn’t do that, and he’s never been able to do that. He’s in the bottom third for starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and their only true offensive weapon is DeAndre Hopkins. While KC’s defense is very good, especially their secondary, I’m not going to give them credit for being able to cover Nate freakin’ Washington. New England’s offense is getting guys like Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and so on back to 100%. That bye week was just what the doctor ordered. The Patriots have played some lackluster football over the last six weeks, but for the first time in a long time, their arsenal will be replenished.

In terms of their offensive play, the score might’ve said 30 points, but that doesn’t mean that’s how much the offense actually put up. If you were to watch that game, you’d notice a lot of stalled drives that were left unfinished. Had KC’s offense actually played as well as people perceive it, then it would’ve been 30-0 at the end of the first quarter. I like Alex Smith as a quarterback, and he made some great throws. Travis Kelce is a very good tight end- one of the best receivers at the position in the entire league. Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, while neither is the stud that Jamaal Charles is, are legitimate options. But their receivers? Lackluster. Lackluster at best. That’s especially true considering that Jeremy Maclin got hurt last week. Now, Maclin didn’t tear his ACL as it appeared, but he did sprain his ankle, which I imagine will sap some of his speed and make him an easier cover.

Defensively, guys are coming back, too. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty should both be out there, which is huge for the secondary. Dont’a Hightower should be out there too. Also suiting up should be Chandler Jones (probably, if he doesn’t bug out on synthetic weed again[1]), who hasn’t impressed me when he’s been on the field in recent weeks, but whose presence always must be accounted for. These are guys that completely change the look of New England’s defense, and they should be ready to make their presence felt. I think it’s also worth mentioning that Matt Patricia has proven this year that he is among the better defensive coordinators in all of football.

I think this week comes down to whether the Patriots will be rusty or not. I’m confident that the skill is greater than Kansas City’s, regardless of how hot they’ve been. It won’t be easy; it’ll be one of the toughest tests yet. But I think Foxborough will prove to be the difference. Give me New England by 10.

[1] The reason I didn’t delve into Chandler Jones doing synthetic marijuana is because I see it as a complete non-story. I don’t really care if he did it. Sure, it might affect his playing time. But based on his recent injuries and lackluster performances when he’s been on the field, I don’t think fake weed is the biggest of our worries.

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