When the Patriots ran:
The Patriots completely owned this matchup thanks to some excellent work from the guys up front as well as fullback James Develin. Josh McDaniels went with a lot of two-back sets with Develin leading the way for Sony Michel and the rookie took full advantage. Develin was on the field for 33 snaps (42 percent) and most of those were clearing the way for Michel, who racked up 106 yards on 24 carries (4.4-yard average) and notched a pair of touchdowns. Michel ran with power between the tackles and consistently churned out yards in chunks. His longest run went for just 15 yards, which means he was picking up healthy gains on virtually every carry as opposed to benefitting from one long run. James White was also effective in his change-of-pace role, adding 39 yards on just six carries (6.5-yards average) while Kenjon Barner added 16 yards on three attempts. Overall the Patriots piled up 173 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries (4.6-yard average) against the overmatched Chiefs front seven, which went light most of the night in an effort to contain the passing game. Of the 35 attempts not including Tom Brady's three carries, New England turned in efficient runs (4 yards or more, first down, TD) on 23 of them. That's dominance.
When the Patriots passed:
Flooding zones with extra defensive backs worked at times for the Chiefs in that it prevented big plays for most of the night, but in the end even that approach was fruitless. Playing without their starting safeties the Chiefs had trouble all night containing Brady and the passing attack. By rushing three Kansas City typically gave Brady time and he figured things out after a slow start. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 340 yards and a touchdown, and his two biggest throws came late when he hit Chris Hogan for 42 yards (four catches, 78 yards) on third-and-one and later set up the game-winning field goal with another 42-yarder to Rob Gronkowski (three catches, 97 yards). James White and Josh Gordon led the way in terms of receptions with five each but mostly for modest gains. Julian Edelman was quiet with four catches for 54 yards but did shake loose for a 17-yard touchdown in the first half. It wasn't a high volume night for the pass catchers but the plays were made when needed, which resulted in a 16-point fourth quarter in the shootout victory.
When the Chiefs ran:
Kansas City fell behind early and didn't have the luxury of sticking with Kareem Hunt, but he had plenty of success in his limited opportunities. He carried just 10 times but racked up 80 yards including an explosive 31-yard run that nearly went the distance. He consistently broke into the second level while also successfully converting on a couple of short-yardage attempts. Overall the Chiefs rushed just 17 times but managed 94 yards for a solid 5.5-yard average. Because of the score they weren't able to maintain the effort on the ground, but it was evident that the Chiefs playmakers gave the edges fits, particularly Kyle Van Noy, who was put in the unenviable position to make tackles in space often and rarely succeeded. This wasn't anything like the dominance the Patriots showed but Kansas City showed it could run the ball effectively as well.
When the Chiefs passed:
Young Patrick Mahomes took a while to crank it up but once he did he put on an impressive display. He appeared to deal with some early jitters, which were evident on several misfires in the first quarter. He missed potential touchdowns to open receivers Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce while also failing to notice Dont'a Hightower dropping into a zone for an early interception. But once he settled down the Patriots couldn't stop him. The early overthrows led to field goals, and in the second half those turned into touchdowns. He finished 23 of 36 for 352 yards and four touchdowns (three to Hill) to with a pair of interceptions. He led a 31-point second half that had his team in the lead in the fourth quarter by exploding for touchdowns of 67 yards to Hunt and later 75 yards to Hill to tie the game at 40. Hill was a menace, catching seven balls for 142 yards as he beat both man and zone coverages consistently. Kelce was hot early and finished with five catches for 61 yards while Hunt added five for 105 yards. The secondary had trouble to the Chiefs speed across the field as Kansas City did a great job of finding soft spots throughout the game. Mahomes' ability to throw on the move impressed, but his early miscues ultimately cost his team a chance at victory.
At this point it's hard not to admit that there's a problem with the Patriots kickoff coverage. Each game Bill Belichick seems determined to have Stephen Gostkowski hang his kicks high near the goal line in an effort to make the returner attempt to bring it out. The problem is the coverage hasn't pinned the opponent inside the 25 much all season. Tremon Smith handled four kickoffs Sunday night and piled up 180 yards including a 97-yarder in the fourth quarter that allowed the Chiefs to take a 33-30 lead. He also took one out to the 37 earlier in the game while Spencer Ware easily handled Gostkowski's attempted squib kick and returned it to the 45. Kansas City's explosive offense didn't need the extra help. The good news was Gostkowski continued his excellent start by nailing all five of his field goals including the 28-yard game-winner as time expired. He also hit from 48 and 50, the latter giving the Patriots a late 7-point lead. Kansas City's Harrison Butker was also perfect, hitting all four of his field goals. Neither punter broke a sweat as Dustin Colquitt attempted the only one of the night.