In his preview of this Divisional Round match-up, Romilly Evans relies on the miserly Chiefs in a game where both offenses present more questions than answers
"The Chiefs' one-two rushing punch of Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware will tire out any defense."
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots
Start-time: Saturday, 21:35
TV: Live on SS1
The trouble with the Kansas City Chiefs, as Bill Belichick mused last week, "is that they've won 11 straight, so you can't look at a relevant game and say here's how you beat them." Cynics might suggest that Belichick was only managing expectations before he performed another coaching masterstroke in the Divisional Round. However, the New England supremo knows his team have a battle on their hands, despite homefield advantage and some cramped odds.
The Chiefs have effortlessly rebounded from a 1-5 start under old-school Andy Reid's avuncular tutelage. They certainly feel special, and have done it all in the absence of their superstar running man Jamaal Charles. In short, they've proved more than the sum of their parts in a season where they've minimised the mistakes, special teams have stepped up, and their D has grabbed most of the headlines.
That D just shut down Houston 30-zip over Wildcard Weekend, so the force is strong with them. That said, they faced a Brian Hoyer hellbent on self-destruction. Now they face a Tom Brady desperate for public rehabilitation. And therein lies the rub for this encounter.
Brady, of course, is not in tip-top order himself. He's had time to recover from a recent ankle strain but has been getting knocked about in the second half of the year. His offensive options have dried up (Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson still out) while Rob Gronkowski (missing from Tuesday practice), Julian Edelman and Dont'a Hightower also won't be operating at full tilt, due to recent niggles.
Brady-to-Gronk will doubtless makes some plays at their Foxborough fortress, though, so Kansas will need to keep pace. Alex Smith led his team to a 41-4 win the last time they met the Pats (248 yards for three touchdowns) and that sort of level would again trouble the Patriots here. Key receiver Jeremy Maclin has a mild ankle sprain, but should return. Elsewhere, Kansas's one-two rushing punch of Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware will tire out any D, and give Smith the balanve to pick apart the Pats' porous secondary.
New England will counter with a sneakily good pass rush (second on the league with 49 sacks) but Smith can also beat you with his feet. So trust this expert game-manager to keep them within hailing distance of the handicap. And if the Chiefs can control the clock as well with their running game, this could be one year when the Patriots fall at the first in the postseason.
Back Kansas City Chiefs (+4.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 2.021/1 or better
Back Kansas City Chiefs to win on the First Half Moneyline @ 3.02/1 or better
Back Over 43.5 Total Points @ 2.0521/20 or better
Back S. Ware to score First / Anytime Touchdown 14.013/1 or better