Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:00 PM
AFC - Patriots at Chiefs
Editor's Note: Antony Dinero went 5-3 in the Divisional Playoffs and is on a 37-27-2 (57.8%, +752) run since Dec. 13. He went 51-23 (68.9%, +2502) in October and hit 22 of 32 totals (68.8%, +1115). Dinero is 205-180-10 (53.2% , +271) for the entire 2018 regular and postseason. Don't miss out on NFL Winners from Antony Dinero on VegasInsider.com this postsesaon. Click to win!
New England at Kansas City (-3. 56.5), 6:40 pm ET, CBS
As far as fearless predictions go, I expect this AFC Championship will forever be memorable in the way that the “Tuck Rule Game” was. Hopefully we don’t see snow become as much of a factor as it was on Jan. 19, 2001 in Foxboro, but weather conditions will certainly play a major role in deciding what team reserves the final spot in Super Bowl LIII.
Mother Nature just doesn’t figure to be the star.
The snow and heavy winds originally forecast to turn this contest into a winter wonderland won’t materialize. It will still be cold. Temperatures will be in the teens. Wet weather is no longer expected to interfere, so as long as players dress warmly and can handle making plays in frigid conditions, they can’t use inclement weather as an excuse.
Consider this a huge edge for the Chiefs (13-4 SU, 10-6-1 ATS), who were looking at the prospect of speedster Tyreek Hill being slowed by the elements. Although Tom Brady is the best quarterback in league history and Patrick Mahomes is just starting his journey on the heels of his first playoff win, The Patriots (12-5 SU, 10-7 ATS) would have had a major edge with the more dependable running game if this game was going to be played in a massive snowstorm.
Wind will play a role, and it’s impossible to predict who will be affected since it remains to be seen when the worst of it rises up and makes itself a factor. Winds are expected to be swirling and the wind chill will make it feel even colder but the worst of it will have already passed on Saturday, where temperatures were expected to feel like they were in single-digits.
Both teams dodged a bullet from a comfort level, but it’s Andy Reid breathing the biggest sigh of relief and Bill Belichick muttering under his breath following this development. Reid will have his entire playbook in play for an attack that averaged 35.3 points, the third-highest total in league history. Kansas City ranked first in the NFL in total offense, coming in third through the air as opposed to just 16th, in the middle of the pack, on the ground.
New England’s defense ranked just 22nd against the pass and were carved up for 352 yards and four touchdowns when these teams met in Week 6. Although the Patriots won 43-40 and picked up Mahomes twice, they saw his immense talent first-hand as he was able to extend plays and drives with his unique approach.
Belichick was undoubtedly excited about the prospect of having the elements lend him a hand. He’ll now have to beat the Chiefs straight up. Brady should be more productive in the red zone but will still count on a rushing attack that dominated against the Chargers last week thanks to rookie Sony Michel and an offensive line that paved the way for huge chunk runs.
The Chiefs ranked next-to-last in total defense but really played its best late and dominated in eliminating Indianapolis last week. Kansas City finished 27th against the run and 31st against the pass but welcomes back key safety Eric Berry to the fold. For more on who’s in and who’s out for this AFC title game, check the injury report below.
Arrowhead Stadium will be hosting its first AFC title game in franchise history and figures to be a mad house for this one. Fortunately, Brady’s experience should come in handy behind a veteran offensive line, but he’s just 2-3 on the road in conference title games and hasn’t won a true road playoff game outside Gillette Stadium since prevailing against San Diego in the divisional round back in ’06. That stat is slightly misleading since New England has so often been a No. 1 seed, but Brady has been most vulnerable outside of his comfort zone
Overall, the Pats have won 10 of 14 AFC title games. These teams have only met once in the postseason with New England winning at home 27-20 back in 2016. For all the results of the most recent meetings between these teams, scroll below.
This season’s meeting produced 946 yards of total offense as the Chiefs attempted to rally from a 24-9 halftime deficit, scoring 31 second-half points and tying the game on a 75-yard pass from Mahomes to Hill, who had three touchdowns on the night and will be the primary x-factor now that it’s not going to be too windy to consistently look to get him the ball.
Kareem Hunt scored on a 67-yard reception and gained 80 yards on just 10 carries but has since been cut after being arrested for a domestic violence incident. Damien Williams has been excellent as a fill-in, earning himself a new contract down the stretch, so he’ll be the primary back but will have help thanks to Spencer Ware returning to the lineup following a shoulder issue.
Another reason the weather forecast clearing up is such a big win for the host Chiefs is that the Patriots would’ve had an advantage given how effective their short passing game was last week against the Chargers. James White tied a postseason record with 15 receptions out of the backfield last week and will join Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski as primary target in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Without Josh Gordon in the mix, any deep balls will likely go to Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson or Kevin Hogan.
With Gronk and Travis Kelce, arguably the two most impressive tight ends in pro football alongside San Francisco’s George Kittle involved in this one, it’s important to note that the Chiefs were victimized for 10 touchdowns by tight ends this regular season, second-most in the NFL. Kansas City’s defense were one of only nine teams to surrender over 1,000 receiving yards to tight ends, giving up 87 catches. New England surrendered 71 catches for 832 yards and eight scores.
The Chiefs opened eyes by holding the Colts without a third down conversion on nine attempts last week to improve to 8-1 at Arrowhead. The Patriots were just 3-5 on the road, beating only one opponent with a winning record. They’ve already had a huge break go against them as kickoff approaches. Simply having been there before won’t do anything for New England here. To reach its fourth Super Bowl in five years, Brady will have to be special once again and a road atmosphere the likes of which the Pats haven’t seen all season will have to be overcome.
New England Patriots
Projected season win total: 11 (Over -120, Under +100)
Preseason odds to win AFC East: 1/8
Odds to win AFC (Preseason/Current): 3/1 to 5/2
Odds to win Super Bowl (Preseason/Current): 6/1 to 7/2
Kansas City Chiefs
Projected season win total: 8.5 (Over +115, Under -135)
Preseason Odds to win AFC West: 11/4
Odds to win AFC (Preseason/Current): 15/1 to 5/9
Odds to win Super Bowl (Preseason/Current): 30/1 to 11/4
FUTURES OUTCOMES/LINE MOVEMENT
The Chiefs weren't the AFC West favorite, coming in behind the Chargers (6/5), so backers who liked them to win their division cashed at +275. The Patriots won their 10th straight AFC East title, the 16th in 18 seasons, but pushed on their season win total prop thanks to wins in their last two games.
As far as this matchup is concerned, the Chiefs opened as a 3-point home favorite and has remained exactly that all week entering Sunday. Kansas City opened at -150 on the money line and has seen that number reach the -160 to -165 range. If you like the Pats outright, a payout on a road upset at Arrowhead would get you +145 to +150.
Kansas City is healthier than it has been all season, getting Ware back in addition to Berry and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (fibula), who was activated off injured reserve and is expected to rotate in with the starters. Pass-rusher Justin Houston and safety Daniel Sorensen didn't play against New England in Week 6 in addition to Berry, who didn't re-join the team until late in the season. Speedy linebacker Dorian O'Daniel has been ruled out with a calf injury.
The Patriots have seen offensive linemen Brian Schwenke and Isaiah Wynn go down for the season and didn't have the Gordon experiment go their way but are also extremely healthy for January. Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, Jr. is probable despite an ankle sprain. He was the only player on New England's injury report.
Sunday night's toal opened as high as 58 at South Point and the Wynn while opening at 57 at most other shops and . Once many got wind of the forecast, the number was bet down to as low as 54.5 at most shops mid-week before climbing back up to is current range. There are no weather concerns to monitor since this divisional playoff will be played indoors. The 'over' prevailed in the Patriots' win last week, snapping a run of eight of nine that had fallen below the posted total. The Chiefs have seen the under prevail in consecutive games due to the defense holding Oakland and Indianapolis to 13 combined points. The 'over' went 10-6 in Kansas City games during the regular season. Weekly “Total Talk” writer Chris David of VegasInsider.com provided his thoughts for both Sunday contests here:
RECENT MEETINGS (New England 7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS last 10; OVER 6-4)
10/14/18 New England 43-40 vs. Kansas City (KC +3.5, 59.5)
9/7/17 Kansas City 39-17 at New England (KC +8, 47.5)
1/16/16 New England 27-20 vs. Kansas City (NE -4.5, 43)
9/29/14 Kansas City 41-14 vs, New England (KC +3, 46)
11/21/11 New England 34-3 vs. Kansas City (NE -17, 47)
9/7/08 New England 17-10 vs. Kansas City (KC +16, 43.5)
11/27/05 Kansas City 26-16 vs. New England (KC -3, 51)
11/22/04 New England 27-19 at Kansas City (NE -3, 52)
9/22/02 New England 41-38 (OT) vs. Kansas City (KC +8.5, 43.5)
12/4/00 New England 30-24 vs. Kansas City (NE -1, 41)
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA