AFC Championship Sport
Who:
New England Patriots (11-5) at Kansas Metropolis Chiefs (12-4)
When: Sunday, Jan. 20 at 6:40 p.m. ET
The place: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas Metropolis, Mo.
TV: CBS
Odds: Chiefs -3
Over/Below: 54.5
Final Assembly: Week 6New England 43, Kansas Metropolis 40

Story of the tape

2018 Stats Patriots Chiefs
Factors Per Sport 27.3 (4) 35.3 (1)
Factors Allowed/Sport 20.3 (7) 26.3 (24)
Rush Yards/Sport 127.3 (5) 115.9 (16)
Move Yards/Sport 266 (8) 310 (3)
Complete Yards/Sport 393.4 (5) 425.6 (1)
Rush Yards Allowed/Sport 112.7 (11) 132.1 (27)
Move Yards Allowed/Sport 246 (22) 273 (31)
Complete Yards Allowed/Sport 359.1 (21) 405.5 (31)
Third-Down Offense 40.8% (13) 47.2% (2)
Third-Down Protection 38.6% (16) 41.5% (25)
Staff Sacks 30 (T-30) 52 (T-1)
Turnover Differential +10 (5) +9 (T-6)

(Common-season rank in parentheses)

Sport-breaker

Can Ok.C. defend New England’s ’21’ personnel?

The Patriots have at all times zigged when different groups zag, so it ought to be no shock they’re certainly one of solely two offenses (together with the San Francisco 49ers) that use “21” personnel (two operating backs, one tight finish, two large receivers) on at the least 25 % of downs, in keeping with Sharp Soccer Stats (SFS). In reality, the Patriots have used it 29 % of the time this season – 22 % increased than the NFL common.

The heavy utilization creates unfamiliarity for many opposing defenses. Towards New England’s operating sport, these defenders do not have the identical consolation degree in relation to their hole tasks, resulting in miscommunications throughout the entrance seven. Here is an instance towards the Los Angeles Chargers:

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Courtesy: NFL Sport Move

On this play, the Patriots are operating an outside-zone idea to the large facet of the sector. Proper guard Shaq Mason performs an efficient attain block on Chargers defensive deal with Darius Philon (No. 93). That opens an enormous cutback lane for operating again Sony Michel, who does a superb job of studying his blocks and bursting by way of the second degree of the protection.

On the identical time, linebacker Kyle Emanuel (No. 51) is compelled to dash to the surface to cowl the additional hole created by New England’s fullback, which eliminates Los Angeles’ capability to defend Michel as soon as the middle cuts off Adrian Phillips (No. 31).

New England additionally makes use of 21 personnel to create alternatives for operating backs within the passing sport:

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Courtesy: NFL Sport Move

Right here, the Patriots have each Rex Burkhead and James White within the backfield. As soon as the ball is snapped, New England sends Burkhead on a wheel route, which opens up a ton of house for White to run a flat route beneath after a play-action faux. The result’s a simple 8-yard achieve that retains New England forward of the sticks.

On paper, Sunday’s matchup units up completely for the Patriots’ most well-liked bundle. Do not be stunned in the event that they make the most of 21 personnel much more than common towards the Chiefs, whose protection allowed the best success charge (65 %) towards the grouping in the complete league this season, in keeping with SFS.

Issues aren’t as unhealthy when the Chiefs’ opponent passes from 21 personnel – their protection is merely beneath common in that state of affairs, permitting 7.Eight yards per try, a 98.Three passer score, and a 59 % success charge.

However Kansas Metropolis is just atrocious defending the run towards 21 personnel, permitting 6.2 yards per carry and a 67 % success charge.

The protection’s capability – or lack thereof – to cease New England out of this personnel grouping will go a great distance towards deciding the winner of Sunday’s contest.

Largest mismatch

Patriots RB James White vs. Chiefs LB Anthony Hitchens

White is likely one of the most harmful receiving backs within the NFL – particularly on third downs – and certainly one of Tom Brady‘s favourite targets within the short-to-intermediate areas of the sector. Final week towards the Chargers, White had 15 catches for 97 yards, with 5 of them going for first downs.

A lot of White’s receiving work comes as an extension of the operating sport, as New England likes to make the most of him on shovel and display passes. The Patriots additionally use White to make the most of any linebacker who struggles in protection. Here is a terrific instance:

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Courtesy: NFL Sport Move

Right here, the Patriots key in on Jets linebacker Neville Hewitt (proper facet of display). When the ball is snapped, White releases into his route and runs straight towards Hewitt. As soon as he approaches Hewitt on the prime of his route, White makes use of a foot-fire approach earlier than darting inside throughout the linebacker’s face to create a ton of separation, ultimately reaching the top zone after the catch.

White ought to have an opportunity to copy final week’s efficiency on Sunday, as New England will doubtless look to make use of him towards Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens in protection.

After signing a five-year, $45-million contract final offseason, Hitchens was one of many worst protection linebackers within the NFL all through 2018, giving up a passer score of greater than 115 when focused in each man and zone schemes, in keeping with The Quant Edge.

Hitchens lacks the quickness and route anticipation to stick with speedy offensive gamers, resulting in 43 catches and 4 touchdowns towards him within the common season. And he is permitting far too many yards after the catch in man protection, with the common depth of goal being 3.Three yards however the common yards allowed per goal clocking in at 9.1.

That’s a horrible recipe for fulfillment towards White, who makes his dwelling towards subpar protection linebackers out of the backfield.

Three keys to the sport

Jim Rogash / Getty Pictures Sport / Getty

Can the Patriots cease Tyreek Hill? Of their Week 6 assembly, the Patriots appeared preoccupied with slowing down tight finish Travis Kelce, which allowed the speedy Hill to rack up seven catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns. This time, anticipate Invoice Belichick to interrupt out a number of wrinkles towards Hill. Do not be stunned if the Patriots use “cone protection” to bracket the receiver from each side.

Can the Chiefs stress Brady? In Chris Jones, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston, the Chiefs possess the most effective pass-rush teams within the NFL. Nonetheless, they solely recorded two sacks within the final assembly, which is beneath their regular-season common of three.25 per contest. Kansas Metropolis might want to stress Brady on Sunday, because the veteran QB is deadly when given time within the pocket to choose aside defenses.

Will Eric Berry play? The Chiefs security is likely one of the few defensive backs who can maintain his personal towards Rob Gronkowski, however he is at present questionable for Sunday’s contest. Final time Berry confronted the Patriots (Week 1 of the 2017 season), Gronkowski was held to 2 catches for 33 yards on six targets. In Week 6 with out Berry, the Chiefs allowed Gronkowski to rack up 97 yards. Berry’s standing for this sport can have a big impact on Kansas Metropolis’s capability to decelerate New England.

Betting motion report

Brady’s 67-game streak of being listed as a favourite will finish on Sunday, with New England sitting as a three-point underdog towards Kansas Metropolis.

Early indicators present 55 % of the unfold tickets being wagered on the Chiefs with the general cash barely tilted towards Kansas Metropolis. Nonetheless, bettors are all around the underdog Pats on the moneyline (+135), with 67 % of {dollars} being wagered on that facet.

In the meantime, these two groups have gone over the entire of their earlier 4 conferences, together with the Week 6 shootout that featured 83 factors. Nonetheless, extra tickets (52 %) and cash (56 %) are on the below 56 with freezing-cold temperatures anticipated by sport time.

Predictions

John Proudly owning: In a back-and-forth affair, the Chiefs get the ball final and Patrick Mahomes marches them down the sector for a game-winning subject purpose. Chiefs 31, Patriots 30.

Alex Kolodziej: As two mastermind head coaches commerce punches in a heavyweight conflict, Belichick serves up the knockout blow and sends the Pats to yet one more Tremendous Bowl. Patriots 31, Chiefs 27.

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