AFCCG: Pats at Chiefs Buildup

Super Nomario

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While the loss of Kareem Hunt hasn't seemed to make that much of a difference in their running game, taking him out of the passing game - a nightmare matchup for High and most other LBs - is a pretty significant difference maker. Spencer Ware has some receiving ability and versatility but he's been hurt. Damien Williams is essentially a screen pass option and a block-then-leak-for-the-checkdown guy that isn't an open field threat. Assuming Ware is still out, they really don't have a RB that can run a lot of routes and present a matchup problem or that can cause havoc if receiving the ball in space. That really decreases my concerns about High. Whether Chung will be able to deal with Kelce is another issue.
I've thought this too, but on the pessimistic side there's some question about the Pats' ability to defend receiving backs of even modest ability. We think of Kareem Hunt of this great receiving back, but his passing game numbers are just OK against non-Patriots teams; the two games against the Pats are the two highest receiving totals of his career (105 yards and 98; he only has one other game over 55) and account for almost 1/4 of his career receiving yards. We all remember what Corey Clement, in a similar system, did to the Pats in the Super Bowl - 100 yards, well over the 55 which is his second-best total. So while Williams doesn't present the same threat as Hunt on paper, I'm not going to be shocked if he racks up 80 yards in the air or something.
 

rodderick

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I've been seeing a lot of "last time these teams played, the Patriots were at home, had zero penalties called agaisnt them, and still only won by three" takes. I think people are forgetting that they also gave up a 97 yard kickoff return, allowed a 75 yard and a 67 yard TD, and Brady had one of the dumbest fumbles of his career at the Pats 29 yard line. Those are basically 28 points in 4 horrendous plays by the Patriots that I'm pretty sure won't all happen again in the same game.

In the first half they didn't have any mental breakdowns and held the Chiefs to 9 points when they had to drive meticulously down the field. Then they started comittind all sorts of mistakes and the tide turned.
 

rodderick

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The one stat that keeps me up at night. Patriots defensive DVOA 31st in the league on the road. Hard to ignore.
This is the reason I fear this game. The Chiefs defense being much better at home could very well be a product of their easy schedule at Arrowhead, but the Pats defense has been trounced by some pretty middling (to be charitable) offenses on the road.
 

dcmissle

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The one stat that keeps me up at night. Patriots defensive DVOA 31st in the league on the road. Hard to ignore.
I’m in a peaceful place. If they can’t improve the above, they very likely are going to lose, and I’d be ok with that given the season and the fact that I have zero interest in watching them get housed in the Super Bowl.

On the other hand, if they can build on a very credible performance last week and tame KC @KC, then I can be reasonably confident they can go into a dome in Atl and go toe to toe with NO or LA. There’s considerable overlap in the challenges posed by the three teams. Not identical, but similar in exposing the soft underbelly of this Patriots team.

If they can improve and win the SB, tremendous. If not, it is what it is.
 

pvg44

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Please explain.
Well, ok, metaphorically. Actually 49 years last week. I’ve been a Chiefs fan since January of 1970 when I watched SB IV as a wee lad. Since then i’ve seen kickers from Jan Stenerud to Nick Lowery to Lin Elliot miss FGs in excruciating ways. 2 home playoff wins in 47 years. Losses when QBs recovered fumbles off of linemen’s helmets, completing touchdown passes to themselves. And on and on. Maybe this time I’ll get lucky.
 

genoasalami

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The important thing to remember is what happens one week rarely carries over to the next, so I don't take much from the win over the Chargers. They were well rested, played a team that was bouncing from west coast to east coast to west coast back to east coast, and Pats rarely put up a playoff clunker at home. I'm going into Sunday's game with low expectations based on how they have fared on the road. The key game to me is the Steeler game. Couldn't bounce back from the meltdown loss at Miami. They are just not very good on the road AND they will probably have to go blow to blow with a team that's loaded on offense. I will be more than happy to be wrong.
 

Mystic Merlin

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Well, ok, metaphorically. Actually 49 years last week. I’ve been a Chiefs fan since January of 1970 when I watched SB IV as a wee lad. Since then i’ve seen kickers from Jan Stenerud to Nick Lowery to Lin Elliot miss FGs in excruciating ways. 2 home playoff wins in 47 years. Losses when QBs recovered fumbles off of linemen’s helmets, completing touchdown passes to themselves. And on and on. Maybe this time I’ll get lucky.
Reading this, and reflecting on my impression of the Chiefs’ fan base and their quietly (at least by national standards) tortured fan base, it’s hard to muster up animosity.

Great fan base, great coach, and a fine football team that hasn’t taken the prize in like 50 years.

Except for Tyreek Hill (because, honestly, fuck that guy and the collective amnesia of the masses), I’d be at peace with losing to the Chiefs inArrowhead.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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This is the reason I fear this game. The Chiefs defense being much better at home could very well be a product of their easy schedule at Arrowhead, but the Pats defense has been trounced by some pretty middling (to be charitable) offenses on the road.
It all depends on which Bill Belichick shows up. He can still out scheme the Anthony Lynn and Mike Tomlins of the world, as shown last week. But there have been some very ineffective game plans that have been written up in their last couple of playoff games, mainly the two Super Bowls (at least the first half of the Atlanta one).

He’s the greatest coach of all time, but I don’t trust him to whip up some defensive masterpiece for Sunday. ‘01 Belichick would. Not sure about this current version.
 

DJnVa

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He’s the greatest coach of all time, but I don’t trust him to whip up some defensive masterpiece for Sunday. ‘01 Belichick would. Not sure about this current version.
Well, '01 Belichick was coaching in a different type of NFL.
 

Marciano490

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This game reminds me of his last year’s SB went. If I’m not mistaken, Philly scored on every possession. Assuming KC does the same, we’ll just need to not have a Brady strip sack to win. I’ll take those odds.
 

InstaFace

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It felt that way, didn't it? But by the drive list, I'm reminded that they had a 3-and-out punt to start the 2Q, and had a Duron Harmon interception (where else) in the end zone shortly thereafter. But yeah, they scored on their last 5 drives.

Gronk: 9 catches on 15 targets for 116 yds and 2 TDs. What I wouldn't give to see that line again on sunday.
 

BigSoxFan

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It felt that way, didn't it? But by the drive list, I'm reminded that they had a 3-and-out punt to start the 2Q, and had a Duron Harmon interception (where else) in the end zone shortly thereafter. But yeah, they scored on their last 5 drives.

Gronk: 9 catches on 15 targets for 116 yds and 2 TDs. What I wouldn't give to see that line again on sunday.
Agree on Gronk. Win or lose, I want one more Gronk spike. We deserve it but, more importantly, he deserves it.
 

ObstructedView

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weather.com is now saying mid 20s.
Yeah, and winds don’t look to be a factor. It’s looking more and more like a typical outdoor game in January - chilly but nothing that will alter game plans or execution. If anything I’d be more concerned about footing on the natural grass since they use that hydronic heating system that can make things muddy/slippery.
 

pedroia'sboys

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I'm as negative as they come but a few positives since the last game.

1. No hunt who kills the Pats
2. Emergence of JC Jackson as a solid #2. Secondary has really come to it's own since he got a starting spot.
3.Rush defense seems better past 3 weeks. Who knows if its quality of opponents/home field or a legitamate improvement.
 

BigJimEd

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This is a different offense than LA. Lot more speed at WR position. I'm not a big proponent of cover 0 in this game.
I do expect they will mix it up quite a bit. Try and make Mahomes think out there.
 

j44thor

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This is a different offense than LA. Lot more speed at WR position. I'm not a big proponent of cover 0 in this game.
I do expect they will mix it up quite a bit. Try and make Mahomes think out there.
A lot more speed at WR and TE. They did a great job on Kelce in 1st matchup 9/5/60 0 TDs but Hill and Hunt went crazy (combined 300yds 4 TDs). I think they can allow one skill player a big day but doubt they win if 2 go for over 120yds against again.

Will be interesting to see if they revert back to the PIT game plan on D allowing D Williams to run at will and catch the underneath stuff and focus on shutting down the big weapons in Hill/Kelce.
In that PIT game the D held Brown and JuJu to combined 89 yds on 17 targets.
 

BaseballJones

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Reasons for pessimism:
- KC has, simply put, an incredible offense with quality skill players everywhere.
- NE's run defense has been atrocious all year long, and KC - even without Hunt - can run the ball.
- NE is on the road where they've been really bad all year.
- KC's defense is clearly on the rise, getting after the QB and playing press man, which NE struggles with.
- NE struggles with Reid-style offenses.
- Berry - who does a good job on Gronk - will likely play, and Gronk isn't GRONK.
- They have Patrick Mahomes.

Reasons for optimism:
- This is Mahomes' first championship game and BB usually eats up guys with this little experience.
- Jackson and Gilmore are maybe the best pair of CBs in the league, so if anyone has a chance of stopping Hill and Watkins, it's these guys.
- The Chiefs' defensive weakness is run defense, and the Pats have been road grading lately.
- NE's defense has improved considerably since their first matchup.
- Edelman has rounded into form, and White has been dynamic out of the backfield.
- NE is as healthy as they've ever been going into a game like this.
- They have Tom Brady.
 

tims4wins

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I feel similarities to 2013 and not in a great way. Pats had beaten Denver earlier in the year but had to go on the road for the AFCCG. Everyone thought the run game would dominate the Broncos but it never got rolling. Very tough venue to play. Worst skill position group since that 2013. I am no doubt optimistic but I am also limiting my expectations - I got burned pretty bad in 2013 when I was absolutely convinced the Pats would win, easily.
 

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I shouldn't be surprised, but the fear in this thread is palpable. I always find it enjoyable to see how the emotions swing from the beginning of the thread to more fear as we get closer to the game.

Ultimately, my own confidence is increasing. Their method to slow down Kelce seems very repeatable - tie him up at the line and clog the middle of the field so he can't get lose right away. Their method to slow down Mahomes is one we have seen with similar QBs before - particularly Rodgers earlier this year contain him in the pocket. We know they can do this. Their method for taking away the big play is to double speed (or blitz). We've seen them have success with this. Bruschi was highlighting how important it will be to take away the big play - that likely comes from all of his years with BB, so we should expect this is the focus.

Ultimately, the cold will likely make it easier to avoid the big play, even if just marginally. Meanwhile, the Patriots offense seems to match up extremely well with KC, and the cold. Power run game + quick, short passes in space. If the Patriots come out in their power run and work the play action it seems unlikely that KC can slow that down.

Pats by 7+. It would not be surprising to me if NE is up 10+ for most of this game, especially true if NE scores first.

I also think we get a Rams - Patriots super bowl as the perfect bookend to the Patriots Dynasty.
 

genoasalami

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Would have been a hoot if Sunday's game was in Foxborough. Biggest winter storm of the season with heavy snow and sleet.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Ha! To my point though, that was on Monday. As always, there is some behavioral element and the fear kicks in as the days approach the game.
For the record, I have assumed we’re going to get beaten handily since about 10 minutes left in the Chargers game. When Tom Brady talks about how everyone doubted them, he’s pretty much talking directly to me. But I always feel that way so I may not count as a valid member of this psychological sample.
 

Ralphwiggum

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Ha! To my point though, that was on Monday. As always, there is some behavioral element and the fear kicks in as the days approach the game.
Since that's my post I'll respond: I think this year's Pats team isn't as good as past year's teams going back to 2014, the record bears that out, they've been bad on the road all season long even into December when they are typically nails, and they are playing a very good team in a very tough place to play. Winning conference championship games on the road is hard, so I'm trying to be realistic about how I feel about their chances. I had no doubt that they were going to win the last two AFC Title games they played in. This year I have some doubt. Obviously I hope I am wrong.
 

BaseballJones

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I think if they lose, we'll all be able to say we could see it coming: bad road performances all year, KC's loaded with weapons, the Pats' defense is a mirage as usual, Gronk and Edelman and Brady are not the same, Ghost is unreliable in the playoffs, we can't contend with a Reid-style offense, Mahomes is out of this world, etc.

But if they win, we'll all be able to say we could see it coming: the D has played very well the second half of the year, with the emergence of Jackson especially, the OL and running game punishing people, great special teams, we have the coaching edge, and we have Tom Brady in a big game.
 

Harry Hooper

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Despite the dismal road performances this season, I believe the Pats defense will scratch & claw and hold its own (by current NFL standards). This game is ultimately decided by Pats OL vs. Chiefs DL.
 

BigSoxFan

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My doubts are a function of their 2018 road performances (as flawed as that may be) and the simple fact that KC/Mahomes is just really freaking good. If this game were at Gillette, I'd be pretty confident but not "2014 AFCCG" level confident. I think it's quite possible that the Patriots play an B+/A- type game and lose because KC brings their "A" game. On the flip side, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a 2004 AFCCG type performance with the cold and pressure impacting Mahomes enough to force a couple key mistakes.

This really is a fascinating game. To me, it comes down to the OL/running game. If they play well, the offense will put up some points. If they struggle, it'll be a jail break on Brady type game that we typically see in our playoff losses.
 

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Zososoxfan

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[snip]

I also think we get a Rams - Patriots super bowl as the perfect bookend to the Patriots Dynasty.
I hadn't thought of this and that would be awesome.

This one will certainly be a test of BB's coaching acumen. I think it's fair to say that the Chiefs have the more talented roster. This isn't the 2001 SB in terms of talent disparity, but it does seem like it's in the Chief's favor. But, BB has coached plucky underdogs before--just not usually on the road at the same time.

My head says that the Chiefs win by less than 7, but my heart says that BB and TB can conjure magic once again and we're onto Media Week.
 

dcmissle

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They were 7-1 at home. There was a one point loss to SD and a three point OT win v Baltimore. My guess is the other 6 games were probably put to bed by halftime.

If I’m a KC fan, I am probably happy with those splits. Get a lead, run the football, rush the passer.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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Is it weird that I feel like this is a down year as far as how good all the top teams in the NFL are? I feel like last year's Patriots and Eagles were better than any of the 4 remaining teams. Ditto the Falcons and Patriots from the previous year.

Looking at KC's schedule, they went 3-4 against teams above .500. (Wins over LAC, Pittsburgh and and Baltimore and losses to NE, LAC, LAR and Seattle). Their two wins were the first two weeks of the season, and they really should have lost that Baltimore game. They finished the season 3-3, with said Baltimore win plus two wins over Oakland. The Patriots went 5-2 against teams above .500 with losses to the Titans and Steelers, and then had the disastrous games against Detroit, Jacksonville and Miami. I think the Patriots should probably be favored by a point or two in a neutral field game, and given the game is in KC the line should probably be KC -1 or -1.5.

Interesting parallel with the NFC game. LA and KC were both undefeated until they faced their opponent for this weekend's matchup.
 

tims4wins

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Is it weird that I feel like this is a down year as far as how good all the top teams in the NFL are? I feel like last year's Patriots and Eagles were better than any of the 4 remaining teams. Ditto the Falcons and Patriots from the previous year.

Looking at KC's schedule, they went 3-4 against teams above .500. (Wins over LAC, Pittsburgh and and Baltimore and losses to NE, LAC, LAR and Seattle). Their two wins were the first two weeks of the season, and they really should have lost that Baltimore game. They finished the season 3-3, with said Baltimore win plus two wins over Oakland. The Patriots went 5-2 against teams above .500 with losses to the Titans and Steelers, and then had the disastrous games against Detroit, Jacksonville and Miami. I think the Patriots should probably be favored by a point or two in a neutral field game, and given the game is in KC the line should probably be KC -1 or -1.5.

Interesting parallel with the NFC game. LA and KC were both undefeated until they faced their opponent for this weekend's matchup.
Funny thing is I don't think anyone thought this around mid-season. Pats were rolling into the Tennessee game, NO and LA were both undefeated till their matchup, etc. All four teams had some second half struggles, but pretty much everyone thought this would be the final 4, no? To be they have proved they are better than everyone else.
 

dynomite

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Funny thing is I don't think anyone thought this around mid-season. Pats were rolling into the Tennessee game, NO and LA were both undefeated till their matchup, etc. All four teams had some second half struggles, but pretty much everyone thought this would be the final 4, no? To be they have proved they are better than everyone else.
Also, I think some of this is hindsight bias because the Patriots and Eagles offenses looked so good in last year's Super Bowl.

By FootballOutsiders metrics, the 2018 Chiefs were ranked higher than any team in 2017, although FO does rank the 2018 Rams, Chargers, and Saints (the #2-4 teams) below the 2017 Rams, Steelers, and Vikings (ditto). And I will say that last year’s teams were more balanced on offense and defense, whereas this year’s Chiefs are all offense.

And remember, in the playoffs the Eagles were playing with their backup QB, and the Patriots were without Edelman. I don't thin those teams were clearly "better" than these Chiefs, for instance.
 
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bankshot1

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My two scents: Limit Mahomes/keep him on the bench, with long drives. If the OL can open holes, Sony gets 4-5 yds a pop, Jules and Jim (had to) can get open, they'll grind out 1st downs, time off the clock, points, and a tight win.

Win the toss, take the ball, ice Mahomes, score and start the pressure.

And put some faith in BB that he can draw up a pressure defense to frustrate a young QB.
 

BaseballJones

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NWS forecast for KC on Sunday now say a high of 23 and low of 19.
It's funny that those numbers appear to me to be...kind of warm. I mean, it's gonna be like 19 degrees during the game. That's incredibly cold. But I think it won't be cold enough to be much of a factor.
 

BaseballJones

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They were 7-1 at home. There was a one point loss to SD and a three point OT win v Baltimore. My guess is the other 6 games were probably put to bed by halftime.

If I’m a KC fan, I am probably happy with those splits. Get a lead, run the football, rush the passer.
Having Justin Houston back will help immensely. They now have three excellent pass rushers who all seem to be perfectly healthy: Houston, Jones, and Ford. That's a lot for NE to deal with. If I'm KC, I send them all and play tight press man and force NE to have to block exceptionally well and throw over the top. But do so with Hogan and Edelman and Dorsett - not exactly Randy Moss level threats.

I think this could be a problem for the Patriots.

So I try to offset it with quick slants and screens to White and, of course, pounding the ball all day long.
 

dcmissle

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Don’t fall behind, certainly by more than one score

Edit — David Aldridge on DC radio. “I’d like to pick KC — but I’m staring Don Corleone in the face, and I can’t pull the trigger ... He’s going to come up with something.”
 
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BigSoxFan

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Having Justin Houston back will help immensely. They now have three excellent pass rushers who all seem to be perfectly healthy: Houston, Jones, and Ford. That's a lot for NE to deal with. If I'm KC, I send them all and play tight press man and force NE to have to block exceptionally well and throw over the top. But do so with Hogan and Edelman and Dorsett - not exactly Randy Moss level threats.

I think this could be a problem for the Patriots.

So I try to offset it with quick slants and screens to White and, of course, pounding the ball all day long.
KC will be all over the short stuff. This is the game where Gordon's absence might really be felt. Or maybe we'll get one last vintage Gronk game with a few Dorsett/Hogan bombs sprinkled in.
 

Red Averages

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So I try to offset it with quick slants and screens to White and, of course, pounding the ball all day long.
Right. I don't know why the Patriots wouldn't do this? Same philosophy as towards the Chargers. It's really hard to stop an offense that can get good runs and gets the ball out fast. Given how bad KC is against the run, and I don't see a reason why we'd expect they are all of a sudden going to be good, this would seem to be the goal.