Experts share their picks for the Patriots AFC Championship matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Mike Reiss, ESPN:
Pick: Patriots 27, Chiefs 24
In the immediate aftermath of the AFC divisional round, the thought was to lean toward the Chiefs because of home-field advantage. But after spending all week around the Patriots and seeing how they are adopting an underdog mentality and seem especially loose (dancing from some players at the start of practice Thursday highlighted this point), there has been a switch. It also came down to one of the top rules from the Patriots beat-reporting handbook: If you're going to bet against Brady and Belichick, do you have full confidence in the quarterback and head coach on the opposite sideline?
Adam Teicher, ESPN
Pick: Chiefs 30, Patriots 24
The direction of this game turned in a span of a few minutes on Dec. 9, when the Chiefs rallied for a victory over the Ravens at about the same time the Patriots were beaten on an improbable final play by the Dolphins. Otherwise, this game would be played in New England. But it's in Kansas City, where Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are 8-1 (the loss coming in the final four seconds) and allow just 17.4 points per game. The Patriots were 3-5 on the road and averaged 21.6 points -- more than 11 fewer than at home.
Mike Golic, ESPN: Patriots
Seth Wickersham, ESPN: Patriots
Matt Bowen, ESPN: Patriots
Mina Kimes, ESPN: Patriots
Dan Graziano, ESPN: Chiefs
Trey Wingo, ESPN: Chiefs
Mike Clay, ESPN: Chiefs
Kevin Seifert, ESPN: Chiefs
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports:
Pick: Patriots 26, Chiefs 24
I truly enjoy watching the Chiefs play offensive football. And Patrick Mahomes is going to be an all-time great. But I think this is the week Bill Belichick and Brian Flores come up with a plan to get after Mahomes with a bunch of blitz looks. The Pats won’t stop Mahomes, but they will slow him down enough. The Patriots haven’t won a road playoff game since 2006, so I am bucking another trend here when I pick them to do just that. But I think Brady and Belichick will get the job done.
Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports: Patriots
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Chiefs
Jared Dubin, CBS Sports: Chiefs
Dave Richard, CBS Sports: Chiefs
Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Sports: Patriots
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: Chiefs
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk:
Pick: Patriots 30, Chiefs 27
The forecast has improved throughout the week, which is good news for the home team. The opponent continues to be the Patriots, which is bad news for the home team. The home team has Patrick Mahomes, which is the best news possible. But there isn’t enough around him, yet. Losses to the Patriots, Rams, Chargers, and Seahawks resulted not from Mahomes but from the lack of high-end talent around him. The Patriots, between talent and coaching and the resiliency of Tom Brady, can do to the Chiefs what won’t be easy to do: Score at least one more point in a single-elimination setting. Look for Patriots coach Bill Belichick to confound Mahomes, contain Tyreek Hill, control the clock, and ultimately prevail in the only stat that ever matters. Points scored vs. points allowed.
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk:
Pick: Chiefs 42, Patriots 35
This has the makings of a classic. A brutally cold night in Kansas City, with the legendary Tom Brady taking on perhaps the most talented quarterback ever to play the position, Patrick Mahomes. The stars are aligning for this to be an all-time great game. Or at least the sun, earth and moon are aligning, as the game will be played under a lunar eclipse. The Patriots’ defense is a lot better this year than it was last year, which is why I give them a chance: I think they’ll force a couple of turnovers, and maybe take an early lead. But I also think this is Mahomes’ year, and in the end no one is stopping him. The NFL’s brightest young star is heading for the Super Bowl.
Paul Perillo, Patriots.com:
Pick: Patriots 27, Chiefs 24
Brady makes a few more plays than his young counterpart.
Andy Hart, Patriots.com:
Pick: Chiefs 34, Patriots 27
Too much K.C. offense and pass rush does in the Patriots in another road AFC title game.
Erik Scalavino, Patriots.com:
Pick: Patriots 27, Chiefs 19
For New England to win this most important game of the 2018 season on the road in Kansas City, the Patriots will have to do something they’ve failed to accomplish in most of their away games: control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. If they can do that and run the ball as effectively as they did a week ago versus L.A., they’ll take the loud Arrowhead crowd out of the game and give the talented Chiefs offense few opportunities to score. As gifted as this K.C. team is, it lacks the experience in big games that these Patriots possess. In the end, that’s the difference in this game.
Don Banks, Patriots.com NFL Columnist:
Without an ounce of hype necessary, this is the biggest pro football game to ever take place in Kansas City, because the Chiefs have never played host to either an AFC Championship or AFL title game in the franchise’s 59-season, two-city history. That’s a lot of pressure and I can’t wait to see how Andy Reid’s team responds to the size of the stage and the weight of expectation, because Kansas City’s existence is dotted with epic cases of postseason underachievement.
Not that Patrick Mahomes is responsible for any of that, and the second-year quarterback and likely league MVP is the Chiefs’ best hope of turning a completely new page in what promises to be a frigid setting at raucous Arrowhead Stadium. The Patriots haven’t won a road playoff game since the 2006 Divisional round at San Diego, and last earned a Super Bowl berth away from Foxboro in Pittsburgh in the 2004 AFC title game. New England is a three-point underdog, and apparently loving it. It’s been since late November 2014 that the Patriots haven’t worn the favorite’s label in a game, and their hope is that adds the extra motivational fuel needed to secure the ninth Super Bowl berth of the Belichick-Brady era. With big-game experience and superb coaching schemes providing their most obvious edge, some how, some way, I expect it to once again be New England’s day.