The two best teams in the AFC are squaring off in Kansas City with a berth in Super Bowl LIII on the line. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs dominated the Colts in the Divisional Round and the Patriots made quick work of the Chargers.
== MATCH INFO ==
Event : AFC Championship Game
Team : Patriots vs Chiefs
Date : Sunday, January 20
Time : 06:00pm,ET
The key to this game could be just what Patriots coach Bill Belichick throws at Mahomes. Belichick is the master, but nobody has been able to slow down Mahomes in what will be an MVP season. The weather should not be a factor now after reports early in the week of extreme conditions.
You can find out who all our experts like in the AFC title game here and if you want to get a glimpse of John Breech’s bold predictions for the championship round, you can find them here. If you’re looking for more details on the matchup, Jared Dubin’s key matchups breakdown for this game is important reading as well.
The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots were the two top AFC seeds in the NFL playoff bracket. On Sunday, they’ll go head-to-head with a trip to the 2019 Super Bowl on the line. The 2019 AFC Championship Game is a rematch of a Week 6 game between these two squads that featured edge-of-your-seat drama. The Patriots won the first bout at home after a masterful drive by quarterback Tom Brady ate up the final three minutes to set up a game-winning field goal by Stephen Gostkowski as time expired. However, the Chiefs will host at Arrowhead Stadium this time around, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes is eager to prove his second half in New England was no fluke. The Chiefs are three-point favorites and the total is at 56 in the live Patriots vs. Chiefs odds. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. ET on CBS, so before you make your AFC Championship Game predictions, be sure to check out the top Patriots vs. Chiefs picks from SportsLine’s Projection Model.
SportsLine’s proprietary computer model went 176-80 straight-up last season and beat more than 95 percent of CBS Sports Office Pool players in 2016 and ’17. It also performed better than 98 percent of experts tracked by NFLPickWatch.com during that span. Additionally, it went 48-34 on A-rated picks against the spread last season, and $100 bettors who have followed it the past two seasons are up nearly $4,000.
The model has continued to nail its top-rated picks in 2018-19, entering the championship round on a blistering 16-6 run. For the season, it is now 30-15 on all top-rated picks, extending its two-year run to a strong 78-49. It also went 170-84 on straight-up NFL picks during the regular season, ranking inside the top 10 on NFLPickWatch.com. Additionally, it is 7-1 on all against the spread picks in the 2019 NFL playoffs. Anyone who has followed it is way up.
Now it has crunched the numbers for Patriots vs. Chiefs (stream live on fuboTV) and simulated this epic battle 10,000 times. We can tell you it’s leaning under, but It also says one side of the spread cashes in well over 50 percent of simulations, making it a must-back. You can only get that pick at SportsLine.
The model knows that Kansas City converts on 47.2 percent of third downs and is 12-of-15 in fourth-down conversions this year. The Chiefs also come away with a touchdown on 71.8 percent of their trips inside the red zone, ranking in the top three in the NFL in each category.
New England’s defense is middle-of-the-road defending on third down and in the red zone. The lack of a consistent pass rush for the Patriots sets their opponents up with more reasonable third-down conversion distances, while a leaky New England run defense is allowing 5.3 yards per carry on third downs. In the red zone, they simply haven’t been able to generate takeaways to stop drives in their tracks.
But just because the Chiefs are strong on third down doesn’t mean they’ll cover the AFC Championship Game spread against the Patriots, who have outscored their past three opponents 103-43.
The model knows that one of the keys for the Patriots will be their ability to incorporate running backs Sony Michel and James White heavily into their game plan.
Michel was given a carry or targeted in the passing game in 25 of his 37 snaps in these teams’ first meeting and finished with 106 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, White was the focus of 13 of his 33 snaps and finished with 92 yards from scrimmage. Last week against the Chargers, they were the primary focus of the offense yet again, with Michel getting 25 touches in 36 snaps for 138 yards and three touchdowns, while White was targeted 17 times in 38 snaps.
Against the Chiefs, New England will find ways to get both backs on the field at times to help Brady create mismatches. If they can generate similar productivity, it should help the Patriots control the ball and keep it away from the high-powered Chiefs offense.