The march towards Super Bowl LIII continues on Sunday Evening as the New England Patriots travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018 AFC Championship Game. For these two teams a win on Sunday will book their ticket to Atlanta for a chance to win the Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A loss for the other will put a wrap on a pretty impressive season for either of these teams.
When you start to look at this matchup on paper the quarterback position stands out as the possible MVP and first year starter Patrick Mahomes (2017 1st Round Pick) and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady will be the center of attention leading off to kick off on Sunday. Mahomes who threw for 5,097 yards with 50 touchdown passes during the regular season picked apart the Indianapolis Colts in his first postseason game last weekend.
Meanwhile for Brady, this is just another trip down a brilliant NFL career after finishing the regular season with 4,355 yards with 29 touchdown passes as he leads his Patriots to their 8th consecutive AFC Championship Game and 13th overall appearance. Over that stretch, the Patriots are 8-4 while winning five Super Bowl titles. Now the wise quarterback will have his biggest task of the season as he looks to pick up a key road win in one of the hardest stadiums for road teams against an offense that has been difficult to stop this season.
Here are the keys to the game for both the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs on January 20th, 2019 during the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium.
NFL Keys to the Game
New England Patriots – Run First, Pass Second
The Patriots will need to do a lot of things right on Sunday Evening to advance to Super Bowl LIII including hitting Mahomes early and often. Another big key in this contest will be the Patriots ability to run the football first while setting up the pass. This was key their success during the AFC Divisional win against the Los Angeles Chargers. In that contest Sony Michel rushed for 129 yards with three rushing touchdowns and the Patriots outrushed the Chargers 155-19. While this success was key to opening up the pass game (Brady threw for 343 yards with 1 touchdown), it also helped the Patriots manage the clock early while building their lead.
Kansas City Chiefs – Win the Turnover, 1st Down Battle
In an earlier matchup during the regular season the Chiefs used a late rally to make it interesting before the Patriots connected on a game winning field goal at the whistle. In that contest, despite fighting back late the Chiefs allowed the Patriots to control the clock early while allowing them to both pick up first downs as well as win the turnover battle. Mahomes threw two costly interceptions while the Patriots racked up 31 first downs to just 18 of the Chiefs. Both of these key statistics ended up leading to the Patriots dominating time of possession (36:09 to 23:51). On Sunday the Chiefs will need to protect the ball while moving the chains from the opening whistle.
NFL Betting Trends
New England Patriots – The Patriots enter the 2018 AFC Championship Game as a interesting pick for sports handicappers as they sit as the underdog with much of that coming due to their struggles on the road. During the regular season the Patriots posted a 3-5 record against the spread on the road. Along with those struggles the Patriots have covered the spread in just two of their last nine AFC Championship Games. On a positive note the Patriots have won five of their last six contests in January dating back to 2016 NFL Playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs – The amazing season for the Chiefs has fans and sports handicappers turning to them to pick up the win this weekend. Despite the early success against the spread (7-0), the Chiefs have failed to cover the spread in six of their final nine contests while finishing with a 5-4 record against the spread at Arrowhead. Along with those struggles the Chiefs have covered the spread in just one of their last seven home playoff games and in just two of their last 11 overall playoff contests.
Head 2 Head – This will be the second meeting of the season between these two clubs after the Patriots picked up a 43-40 win during the regular season. This will be their fourth meeting since 2014 and second playoff meeting (1/16/2016 Patriots win 27-20). Over that stretch the Patriots are 3-2 including losing in their only trip to Arrowhead in 2014. Since Bill Belichick took over in New England the Patriots are just 1-3 on the road in Kansas City.