Kansas City (12-5) at New England (12-4)
When: Saturday, January 16th 2016
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Time: 4:35 ET | TV: CBS
The Kansas City Chiefs take their 11-game winning streak into Foxborough to take on the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots. The Chiefs breezed past the Houston Texans last week in the Wild Card round 30-0 by doing what they’ve done all year – protect the ball and create turnovers. They forced Brian Hoyer to throw four interceptions and a fumble as the defense has now limited three different teams to 3 points or less during their current streak. Defensive back Marcus Peters, who picked off eight passes during the regular season, got another one last week. Allen Bailey recorded two sacks of Hoyer as the Chiefs continually put pressure on the Houston QB all night long. Quarterback Alex Smith was his typical machine-like self completing 17-of-22 passes for 190 yards. He found TE Travis Kelce 8 times for 128 of his 190 yards. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin suffered a high-ankle sprain in which the Chiefs initially feared he had endured the third right ACL injury of his career, but his availability is questionable for Saturday. The Chiefs might have to rely on running back Spencer Ware even more in this game. He has rushed for 143 yards in the last two games averaging 4.5 yards a carry. Defense will again be the key for Kansas City as they try and put a lot of pressure on Tom Brady, who will probably throw on just about every play without a running game.
The Patriots hope to welcome back wide receiver Julian Edelman for the first time since November 15th. New England averaged 418.6 yards and 33.6 points during the team’s 9-0 start to the season with him, as opposed to 317.5 and 23.1 without him (3-4). New England’s 30th-ranked rushing attack averaged just 87.8 yards per game, the team’s lowest since Belichick’s first year as head coach in 2000. Brandon Bolden, who has risen up the ranks in lieu of injuries to LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis, is averaging just 3.3 yards on 63 carries. Brady, who threw for 4,770 yards this season, will be tested against a very good Kansas City secondary. With Edelman back in the lineup, it will make things that much easier for him. The Patriots should be hosting Pittsburgh this weekend, but they dropped the last two games of the regular season to the Jets and Dolphins and fell to the number two seed. The 20 and 10 points they scored in those games were their two worst offensive showings of the season. The defense finished 9th in yards allowed (339.4) and 9th in rushing defense (98.6). New England won its previous two playoff games against teams riding double-digit winning streaks, beating Pittsburgh in 2004 and San Diego two years later.
Kansas City is playing as well as anyone right now and the Patriots are limping into the playoffs. Edelman must play or the Patriots are in trouble. The Chiefs will get after Brady and force a few turnovers. I really like the points in this one.
Pick: Chiefs +5