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The Obstructed AFC Championship Game Preview

I apologize for my hiatus as I have been battling some health issues. I’m still not 100% but for the last couple of days I have been feeling better. I will be posting more soon. Starting with this game.

The Patriots held serve last weekend in beating the Chargers decisively. I thought perhaps Los Angeles would have done the upset before the game so I would have predicted it wrong. And say what you want about Brady and Belichick, but they are still the kings of the mountain for a reason.

The Chiefs silenced critics (and me once again) with their also decisive win against the Colts. The defense stepped up coupled in by Andrew Luck having probably the worst game of his career on top of it and Kansas City jumped to a big early lead and never looked back.

So we get the two teams with the best records in the AFC fighting it out in a rematch of their shootout in the regular season where New England won 43-40. However, people were left amazed by what Kansas City did at that point. So will it be a classic shootout again? Probably, but strange things happen in the playoffs.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS, 6:40, CBS

PATRIOTS WIN IF:

Jan 13, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) calls a play against the Los Angeles Chargers during the third quarter in an AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

THEY CAN START OFF FAST: Well, both teams last weekend (Patriots, Chiefs) got off to strong starts and somewhat hit the cruise control after that. However, New England never really let the foot off the gas that whole time. They kept coming after the Chargers as everything clicked. They will have to do the same exact thing against that Kansas City offense. The games I remember the Patriots losing this year was that the starts New England had were very slow starts and were really out of rhythm.

THEY FIND A WAY TO KEEP TYREEK HILL FROM BEING A GAME-CHANGER: Hill to me is that wide receiver that should be considered elite if he isn’t one already. But to me, out of any receiver in the league, he is that one who can change a game with one play due to his insane speed. We can most certainly give Patrick Mahomes all the credit in the world this year, but when you have that guy as your wide receiver, your job is slightly easier given how he can make that big catch or make that big break off a small pass. New England has to make sure he is in check all the time or else the Patriots will be giving up 40 pretty quickly.

BRADY IS NOT PRESSURED: Kansas City has been well maligned on defense. It is a known fact. But the Chiefs pass rush is very good (really the secondary is the giant issue for Kansas City). If the Patriots are able to keep Brady from being hit and not pressured, he can have a field day with the Kansas City secondary. If he isn’t, there will be some frustrations that are starting to be more and more shown with Brady during games he’s not been like we have remembered since 2001.

CHIEFS WIN IF

Jan 12, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Divisional playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

MAHOMES MAKES THE RIGHT DECISIONS: Mahomes has had an amazing year and an MVP year. However, as we are splitting hairs somewhat, the times Kansas City has fallen in games, Mahomes has made some questionable decisions which has resulted into turnovers and such. Now the two things that really does hinder him at times is when the games are close and he either has to play from behind (Rams) and forces it or when the Chiefs are slightly ahead as he seems like he wants to be aggressive but pulls back just enough to not be Patrick Mahomes. So that is the one thing he needs to do in the sense of knowing when he needs to be aggressive and when he needs to play for the next play.

THEY DO NOT LET THE FOOT OFF THE THROAT: We see it over and over with teams in college and the pros. We see teams jump off to big starts and by the third and fourth quarter, everything they did right in the first half/three quarters of the game, they let up and not do what got them the lead (i.e. playing not to lose). Kansas City did that with the Chargers late in the season and had Indianapolis not made some mistakes, even that game had a feel like Kansas City let up in the second half a bit. Yes, the Chiefs scored in the 4th, but late to make it 31-13. They can’t sit on a lead against New England. We’ve seen that in January with Jacksonville last year and Atlanta the year before that.

AN UNSUNG HERO STEPS UP: Who? The running game guys, notably the Williams boys, have Sammy Watkins look like that guy in his early days in Buffalo, Chris Conley, etc. New England is going to try to stop Hill and Travis Kelce, so it is the other guys who need to make sure they are on their game. And given how Mahomes has been this year, it may be the case. So in other words, have the Chiefs beat the Patriots at the Patriots own game.

OUTLOOK: I mentioned in my playoff rankings list is that if Kansas City wins their divisional game, they could take off. I’m going to stick by that argument. Arrowhead Stadium will be a madhouse and while I do think Brady and the Patriots will have success scoring, I do think he will be pressured early and often to give KC an early fast start. My lone question will be if Kansas City can maintain that pace the whole game, which I think they can, but they can’t be too comfortable. I do like the Chiefs and Andy Reid to silence the doubters here as New England isn’t the same team on the road as they are at home (3-5 away from Foxboro in 2018). CHIEFS 48, PATRIOTS 40

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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