Chiefs Patriots Square Off in AFC Playoffs

Sean Heffron previews Saturday's game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs.

After a dominant performance against the Texans in their Wild Card Matchup, The once 1-5 Kansas City Chiefs are some experts underdog pick to beat the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Andy Reid in possibly his most impressive season as an NFL head coach has led his team through poor early record, the loss of star running back Jamaal Charles, and now faces his toughest test of the season against the defending Superbowl champions New England Patriots. Even though the Patriots secured a first-round bound due to the mass amount of injuries they have suffered especially amongst skilled position players the Patriots are not exactly storming into the playoffs. The Patriots ended the season with a poor performance and loss against the Miami Dolphins where the Tom Brady led offense was only able to yield 10 points. The Patriots will have Julian Edelman  returning from injury who they have struggled to adequately replace his productivity in his absence. As the Patriots get their star wide receiver back from injury the Chief’s leading receiver Jeremy Maclin suffered a high ankle sprain in their game against Houston. If Maclin can not go Alex Smith and the Chief’s offense will have to rely heavily on Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware in the running game and tight end Travis Kelce will have to come up with big plays in the passing game.

The Patriots have a top ten defense against the run and if they contain the Chief’s rushing attack that will force Alex Smith to emerge from his “game manager” title and lead the offense down the field. The Patriots offensive success will rely solely on the offensive lines ability to keep Brady upright against the fierce Kansas City front four. The recipe to beating Tom Brady throughout his career has always been applying pressure with the front four without blitzing. Brady has such a quick releasee and can identify and understand coverage even when its disguised so Brady can pick apart a defense that sends pressure from the linebackers or secondary. The Kansas City Chiefs have arguably the best front four in the league and the Patriots have struggled in recent weeks to protect Brady. This same Chief’s defense on a Monday Night game week three of last year made gave Brady fits to the point that he was eventually taken out of the game to protect him. The edge rushers Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston get most of the attention for their high sack totals, but the strength of Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard taking on double teams in the middle is what allows the edge rushers to get pressure and collapses the pocket. Brady loves to stand tall in the pocket and his limited elusive ability means he is especially susceptible to pressure in his face from interior line. The NY Giants two Superbowl victories against the Patriots are the blueprints for success fro the Chiefs this weekend. If the Chiefs can run the ball, control the clock, and bring pressure on Brady with the front four the Patriots could be on upset alert, but with Edelman coming back its pretty hard to bet against Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots in the playoffs in Foxborough.

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