New England Patriots vs Kansas City Chiefs : Two NFL playoff games today are all that’s left to determine what teams will play in the 2019 Super Bowl, set for kickoff on Sunday, February 3. In the NFC championship playoffs today (Sunday, January 20), it’s the Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints. The AFC championship follows: New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs.
What teams are the favorites to win today and make it to the Super Bowl? For the first time in years with Tom Brady as quarterback, the Patriots are underdogs on Sunday. The betting odds indicate that the Chiefs, who had a 12-4 regular season record under likely league MVP Patrick Mahomes and are playing at home at Arrowhead Stadium, are 3-point favorites to beat the Patriots in the AFC championship game.
It’s noteworthy that the Patriots and Chiefs played earlier this season in a monumental “Sunday Night Football” game, and the Patriots won 43-40. But that game was played at Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots. It was also a regular season matchup (playoff games are different), and weather was not a factor like it could be today: Forecasters say the temperatures in Kansas City could range from 10 degrees Fahrenheit to well below 0 during Sunday’s AFC championship game.
Meanwhile, the point spread in the Rams vs. Saints game is 3.5 points, and the Saints, playing in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees at quarterback, are the favorites. The Rams and Saints both boasted 13-3 regular season records and have largely been considered as the two best NFC teams all year long.
Both Brees and Rams quarterback, Jared Goff, are known for leading high-powered offenses that are expected to put up plenty of points in Sunday’s NFC championship game. The Saints-Rams over-under is 56.5 points, slightly higher than the Patriots-Chiefs over-under of 55.5 points.
What about Mahomes?
When the Patriots mix up coverage, expect zero pressure, and off the zero-pressure look, a three-man rush. The Patriots showed the zero-pressure drop into a three-man rush in their first meeting and it forced some early throws from Mahomes. The goal is getting someone to rush free and then Mahomes makes a poor decision and one of the droppers can pick the ball off.
The Patriots must have a plan for Mahomes when he breaks out of the pocket. We’ve seen most of his damage done when Mahomes rolls to his right out of the pocket. The Patriots will rush and contain Mahomes as best as possible, possibly even having a spy to not allow Mahomes to make those extra plays. When Mahomes does leave the pocket, he’s not doing so to run. He’s looking to pass, but defenses often key on Mahomes running and he throws the ball into the areas where the defenders aren’t anymore, creating big plays for the offense.
Whatever the Pats do, they must be multiple and not show the same coverage over and over. One thing that will help the defense is their offense. The game plan is always the same against the Chiefs: Run the football against their poor rushing defense and play keep-away from Mahomes. However, when the Chiefs start scoring points and build up their lead, the Patriots must stick to the game plan, like the Chargers did. Will they panic and move off the plan? If they do, this game is done.
New England Patriots vs Kansas City Chiefs : AFC Championship
New England at Kanas City
Bill Belichick had two weeks to prepare for the Chargers and that game was over shortly after it started. Los Angeles played like it was the first preseason game while New England was humming along like a finely tuned vintage car moseying its way through a parade.
Belichick has only a week to plot the demise of Andy Reid and the Chiefs, and he won’t have the luxury of playing in Gillette Stadium. Instead, he’ll travel to Arrowhead where it could feel more like the North Pole than the midwest.
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