“Can I Get An Encore? Do You Want More?”

AFC Game Of The Week

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

Chiefs: Each Sunday after the games, I always give my take on the best thing I saw of the day. My biggest takeaway was what the Kansas City Chiefs did on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Their last two games have really grabbed my attention. Whenever you think of Kansas City Chiefs football, the offense comes to mind. They’ve been the most electric offense in the NFL since Patrick Mahomes became the starting quarterback. I’ve often referred to their offense as a video game in human form. The issue that was holding them back has been their defense. In their last two games, they’ve given up a total of 26 points (17 to the Chargers & nine to the Raiders). I’ve loved it! To play defense at the highest level, everyone must be on the same page. Communication is a major key to any successful defense. For the last year or so, the biggest issue outside of their lack of being on the same page has been doing the little things on an inconsistent basis. In these last two games, I’ve seen a better pass rush, I’ve noticed a better effort all around, they’re finishing tackles, stopping the run along with getting takeaways. They intercepted Philip Rivers four times. Against Oakland, they intercepted Derek Carr twice. They’ve been the big play offense as I mentioned. Finally, the defense is stepping up to make plays. They handled their business in a big divisional game against Oakland. Next is what they’ve had on their minds I’m sure for months: A showdown with the defending Super Bowl champions.

Patriots: Issues will always catch up with a team. You’ll never know when, but they always appear. After their loss against the Baltimore Ravens in November, their offense has struggled significantly. At the beginning of the year, they were cruising with wins over the Steelers, Dolphins and Jets. Ever since week four, the offense has looked bland if that’s a nice way to put it. I continue to say it and I will say it again: Tom Brady isn’t the reason why the New England Patriots are winning football games, plain and simple. It’s been consistency in special teams along with the stout defense they’ve displayed all year long. Therefore, they’re 10-2 right now. Sunday night in Houston was an all-around poor performance. For a month or so, the Patriots defense seemed impossible to take down. Until they crossed paths with Lamar Jackson on a Sunday night in Baltimore. This Patriots defense has a vulnerability. It’s been stopping the run. I noticed this when they played the Cleveland Browns back in week eight. Their other issue they’re having is limiting a mobile quarterback. I’m talking about a quarterback that can move the pocket to make a throw on the run. Lamar tore them apart as did Deshaun Watson in week 13. With the loss on Sunday, the Patriots moved down to the two seed in the AFC playoff picture. They’re back home on Sunday afternoon with the reigning MVP coming to town.

Chiefs Player to Watch: Mecole Hardman– Here’s what’s going to happen. The Patriots will let Tyreek Hill make his catches. Once the Chiefs get the ball 25 yards within the red area of the field, that’s when Belichick will elect to double cheetah. What about Travis Kelce you may ask? They’ll double him with a safety and linebacker possibly. This is where I see the rookie having a big day. When Tyreek was injured, I didn’t think it was too big of a loss because Mecole brings the same big play factor as number ten does. When he has the opening, watch Mahomes get him the football.

Patriots Player to Watch: Sony Michel– The Patriots best part of their offense has been their running game. To get some type of production, they must consistently run the football which could be a blessing to them because it can open their passing game. When I previewed the AFC Championship game in January, I stated that Sony would be the Patriots x-factor to slow the game down and keep that Chiefs offense on the sidelines. All these months later, here he is again. The offense currently goes through him.

Final Analysis: These two know each other well. When they met last season, the Chiefs suffered their first loss of the year to the Patriots. That game then told me it was these two in the AFC, then everyone else. The AFC title game between these two was one to remember. For the first time since January, we get the rematch. The Chiefs will get Mahomes moving early on. Make the Patriots defense work. The same intensity the Kansas City defense has played with, can that carry over into Foxborough? It’ll start with a rush of Brady and I’m forcing him to throw the ball over the top. The Patriots love throwing the football on those crossing routes. As a defender, I want him to throw outside of the numbers. Both games last season were decided by single digits. A combined nine points to be exact.

Prediction: Chiefs 23 Patriots 20

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