Editor’s note: We welcome editor Bernd Buchmasser of Pats Pulpit — our sister site covering the New England Patriots— for Three reasons why the Chiefs will win in New England as we head into the Week 14 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Patriots this Sunday.
1) The Patriots fail to contain the Chiefs’ offensive depth.
New England has arguably the best secondary in football, but the Chiefs present a challenge unlike any other they have faced this season — especially because of Kansas City’s depth. While the matchups between Stephon Gilmore and Travis Kelce or Jonathan Jones and Tyreek Hill could very well decide the contest, it would not be a surprise if other options like Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson or LeSean McCoy make the game-deciding plays against the Patriots.
Just look at it this way: New England’s defense is built on the simple philosophy of taking away what an opponent does best. Moving the football via Kelce and Hill is that for the Chiefs, and the Patriots will invest resources in order to contain the two: Gilmore, arguably the NFL’s best man-to-man cornerback, will probably cover Kelce for extended periods of time, while Jonathan Jones and a deep safety — either Devin McCourty or Duron Harmon — will double-cover Hill. While this approach should help keep the two at least somewhat in check (as was the case during the AFC championship game in January), it will create potential openings elsewhere.
If the Patriots’ depth players fail to win their matchups against the Chiefs’ depth players, the game could be a long one for the team.
2) The Patriots are unable to establish a presence on the ground.
The Patriots entered last year’s AFC title game with the plan to shorten the contest by consistently moving the football on the ground — an approach that worked well early on but had to be abandoned to a certain degree with the game turning into a shoot-out in the second half. Still, New England was able to gain 177 yards on the ground while attempting 47 runs, scoring four rushing touchdowns, and possessing the football for roughly 44 minutes compared to Kansas City’s 21. It’s obvious that similar production would be welcome if the Patriots want to improve to 3-0 against the Mahomes-led Chiefs.
That being said, the team being unable to establish a presence on the ground would be a major problem. Not only are the Patriots inconsistent in the passing game, the Chiefs’ run defense has also been mediocre this season. New England should therefore be able to move the football on the ground, and a failure to do so would certainly limit the team’s chances of coming away victoriously.
3) The Patriots are unable to pass the ball when necessary.
How did the Patriots win in Kansas City during the playoffs?
It was not just Dee Ford’s spatial recognition disappearing, but also the team being able to pass the football when it needed to. Just look at the game-winning drive in overtime when Tom Brady and New England’s offense converted three third-and-10s through the air en route to victory. While the Patriots will likely try to establish a presence on the ground in order to control the tempo and rhythm of the game, they will need to be able to effectively move the ball via the pass as well.
The problem is that New England has been quite inconsistent in the passing game as of late: Brady and his pass-catchers (at least those not named Julian Edelman) have failed to get on the same page in numerous occasions, with execution across the board a major problem that has held the team’s offense back the last few weeks. Will the Patriots be able to improve this week and make the passing plays — like in January — when they need to make them? They have to or else their odds of winning do not look particularly good.