The Kansas City Chiefs have captured 11 straight games and they are, at least by the numbers, the hottest team in football at the moment. They didn’t leave any room for doubt as they shut out the Houston Texans last weekend (30-0), but what made them so successful in that game, and, as a matter of fact, during this entire win streak, is something the New England Patriots have not been so accommodating about. So it is an extra challenge for Kansas City to make it an even dozen in the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs, as these teams meet at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. The kickoff is set for 4:35 PM ET, and BetAnySports customers can engage in real-time wagering while the contest is in progress through the magic of Live Betting Extra.
Kansas City (12-5 straight-up, 9-8 ATS) has allowed just 11.7 points per game during this streak, and they limited Houston to 226 yards last week. What blew the game open for them was not necessarily the 106-yard kickoff return from Knile Davis to start the game, but the five takeaways they had, four of them off the hand of quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was starting his first post-season game. Lawyers former teammate, Tom Brady, has won 21 playoff games, and he was the least intercepted starting quarterback in the NFL this season, throwing just seven pickoffs in 624 attempts. Alex Smith of the Chiefs also threw seven interceptions, but he had many fewer attempts (470).
The Patriots (12-4 straight-up, 7-7-2 against the football pointspread) seemed to pass up the opportunity to compete for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by going “vanilla” against the Miami Dolphins last week in a 20-10 loss. This much must be said – it is very important for coach Bill Belichick to have some of his principal offensive people rested and healthy for this game.
In the NFL playoff betting odds posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, with reduced juice attached, the Patriots are the favorites:
New England Patriots -4.5 (-108)
Kansas City Chiefs +4.5 (-102)
Over 43 points -103
Under 43 points -107
There is some concern on the part of the Chiefs that wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will not be 100%, or close to it. Maclin, who had 87 catches for 1088 yards during the regular season, suffered a high ankle sprain against Houston and is listed as questionable. It is important for Smith to have weapons, quite obviously, but Maclin was by far this team’s best downfield threat. Remember, if you slow him down considerably, that’s a big advantage for Belichick, who has made it a practice through the years of shutting down the other teams most dangerous receiver. In this case, it might be tight end Travis Kelce, who had 128 yards in receptions last week.
The big news for the Patriots, as BetAnySports patrons are well aware, is that Julian Edelman, who had been sitting out since November 15 with a foot injury, has been practicing for the last couple of weeks and is going to play. Edelman’s presence is a major factor for New England, as Brady’s completion percentage drops ten points (69% to 59%) when he is not on the field. Also, the Patriots converted a pedestrian 31% of their third-down opportunities without Edelman in the game.
New England has committed just 14 turnovers this season, and if they can stay relatively mistake-free, it’s going to go a long way toward negating a fundamental part of the Kansas City game plan, inasmuch as they are +18 in turnover margin through 17 games. This is obviously a huge test for the Chiefs’ defense as well, as no one has scored over 22 points against them since the fourth game of the season. The Patriots have been somewhat non-explosive in the latter part of the schedule, as Brady has thrown for 300 yards only once in the last seven games.
But take notice of New England’s defense, which is sometimes overlooked. They forced teams into a three-and-out situation 31.5% of the time, which is best in the NFL. And they allow only 3.1 yards per carry at Gillette Stadium. They are the team with the experience, and, we might add, a bit of revenge factor, as Kansas City’s 41-14 embarrassment of the Pats last September became the turning point for the eventual Super Bowl champions. We will lay the points here with the PATRIOTS, with what is a very reasonable number.
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