Patriots vs. Chiefs. Saturday, January 16, 4:35pm. Gillette Stadium, Boston.
The 2015/2016 NFL Divisional Playoffs kick off with the defending champion New England Patriots taking on the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Patriots earned a bye-week in the first round of the playoffs, which has worked wonders for star receiver Julian Edelman, who is now fit enough to take on the Chiefs this Saturday. Edelman missed the last seven games due to a broken foot and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will appreciate him being back.
With an offense which has looked sketchy this season, the Patriots have relied on the brilliance of Brady and tough work from Rob Gronkowski. The big receiver has done most of the work for the Patriots, but with a 12-4 record, the Pats have been brilliant and look destined to defend their 2015 crown.
The Pats own a 7-1 home advantage at Gillette Stadium, which certainly helps against arguably the hottest team in the NFL.
The Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) have rattled off 11-straight wins after being 1-5 from their first six games this season. Led by productive quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs have looked one of the best teams in the league and they are worthy of being considered for betting at good odds in this encounter.
Without star running back Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs weren’t expected to show much fight this season, but converting third downs can frustrate opponents and that’s where KC have the advantage.
Patriots vs. Chiefs betting markets and news
Bookmakers are respecting the Kansas City Chiefs’ ability to keep games close, but they still have the Patriots as firm straight up favourites.
Patriots -230 (-5.0)
Chiefs +190 (+5.0)
The Patriots dropped four of their final six games leading into the playoffs, but Tom Brady is confident they will improve with the likes of Edelman back in the team.
“I think the more dependable, consistent players that are out there, the better our offense is going to be,” Brady said. “[Edelman’s] been one of them for as long as he’s been here. Depending on what he can do we’ll try to find ways to integrate him.
“Whoever’s out there we’re going to have to have confidence in. There’s no next week, so we’re going to have to do everything you can do to be out on the field and help us win.”
Brady will have to worry about being sacked after getting knocked down 38 times already this season. The Chiefs defense will be ready and waiting after forcing 29 turnovers in the regular season.
A big reason for that statistic is Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston who believes putting pressure on the quarterback is key to getting turnovers.
“Any time you can get to the quarterback and put pressure on him, or make him uncomfortable in the pocket, you can create turnovers,” Houston said.
“Every week that’s our plan, that’s our goal: dominate every snap.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid is looking forward to the challenge the Patriots will give them on Saturday, paying homage to the coaching and playing ability of Bill Belicheck and Tom Brady.
“Bill’s a friend, he’s a heck of a football coach. Tom Brady is unbelievable. And the job they’ve done there, the accomplishments they’ve had, they’ve made history,” Reid said. “We look forward to the challenge of playing them. That’s what this is all about.”
Chiefs QB Alex Smith is hoping receiver Spencer Ware will be available to go on Saturday after he sprained his ankle against the Texans last week.
“Ultimately it comes down to those two guys [Travis Kelce and Spencer Ware],” Smith said. “I think everybody knew it was a big deal when Jamaal [Charles] went down and rightfully so. [They’re] making the plays in the game and then building off of that, getting the confidence that you know you can do it at this level.”
Patriots vs. Chiefs key stats and tips
Team leaders: Patriots
Passing – Tom Brady. 402-624 passes completed for 4770 yards, 36 touchdowns and seven intercepts.
Rushing – LeGarrette Blount. 165 carries for 703 yards and six touchdowns
Receiving – Rob Gronkowski. 72 receptions for 1176 yards and 11 touchdowns
Last five games:
Patriots 10 – Dolphins 20
Patriots 20 – Jets 26
Patriots 33 – Titans 16
Patriots 27 – Texans 6
Patriots 28 – Eagles 35
Team leaders: Chiefs:
Passing – Alex Smith. 307-470 passes completed for 3486 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven intercepts.
Rushing – Charcandrick West. 160 carries for 634 yards and four touchdowns.
Receiving – Jeremy Maclin. 87 receptions for 1088 yards and eight touchdowns.
Last five games
Chiefs 30 – Texans 0
Chiefs 23 – Raiders 17
Chiefs 17 – Browns 13
Chiefs 34 – Ravens 14
Chiefs 10 – Chargers 3
Our Divisional Playoffs betting tip
It’s tough to go past the Patriots at home in the playoffs. They have the big-time experience and although Brady doesn’t have many weapons to choose from, having Edelman back is a big assist.
The Chiefs are on a roll, but their lack of big game experience won’t help them here and we’re predicting a comfortable win for the New England Patriots.