If you like NFL playoff games with interesting matchups on the field and compelling storylines on the sidelines, then Chiefs vs. Patriots is for you.
When the Patriots knocked off the Chargers 43-40 back in October we all had a feeling it might be a matchup we’d see again. To the surprise of no one other than Philip Rivers, it’s set up to be an AFC Championship Game that could easily turn into an NFL classic.
Clearly, Patrick Mahomes and company would like to see a different ending this time around. The regular season game largely served as the young quarterback’s coming out party to the nation. He’d put up big numbers before the Week 6 matchup, but lighting up Bill Belichick’s defense silenced any doubters about his star power.
Of course, Tom Brady was able to slice and dice the Chiefs defense that night too. He finished the game 24-for-35 for 340 yards and a touchdown. No one really believed Kansas City’s defense was elite, but their inability to even slow down the Patriots offense sent a clear signal to the team’s coaching staff that schematic changes would be required.
The biggest change in personnel between that regular season showdown and next weekend’s AFC Championship tilt is the removal of Kareem Hunt from the Chiefs offense. He rushed for 80 yards and caught five passes for 105 yards in the first game. The Kansas City offense has evolved significantly since that game though. It’s not as if they just lost Hunt last week. Andy Reid has had more than enough time to adjust his scheme to fit his existing group of personnel.
Speaking of Reid, the game could do a lot to enhance his legacy as a head coach. His previous struggles in the postseason have been well documented. Knocking off Belichick in a high-profile matchup could do a lot to erase the memories of those past transgressions.
Outfoxing Belichick won’t be easy though. His team’s thorough demolition of the Chargers shows that he has his group playing their best football at the right time. At the very least, his team won’t be intimidated at the prospect of playing Mahomes and company.
The Chiefs could benefit from a raucous home environment though. The Patriots don’t play the regular season as if home field advantage is all that important, but Arrowhead will be rocking as it hosts its first AFC Championship. Don’t be surprised if the electric atmosphere gives Kansas City’s team a lift early in the matchup.
The game won’t boil down to just Mahomes vs. Brady or Reid vs. Belichick, but those are riveting narratives to watch. This matchup gives you a Super Bowl worthy game under the guise of an AFC Title contest.