Category Archives: 2018 Patriots playoffs

No, Salty Haters, the Overtime Rules Don’t Need to Be Changed

Ian Logue
January 22, 2019 at 10:54 am ET

Patriots players are used to the motto “ignore the noise” and there certainly is plenty of it out there following New England’s terrific overtime AFC Championship win over the Chiefs Sunday night.

One of the frustrating parts of Sunday’s game for Chiefs fans was the fact Patrick Mahomes was nothing more than a spectator during the overtime period, which saw Tom Brady march down the field and drive the dagger into their hearts with a walk-off touchdown drive.

That moment silenced the fans who had screamed their lungs out all night, with those who were still on hand forced to watch the Patriots celebrate on their home field as the Chiefs’ fairy-tale season came to an end.

It was a tough Monday.  They’re trying to grapple with the reality that any shot they had for a magical finish is over, which now sees them rooting against the Patriots with a vengeance alongside a Rams fanbase that will need all the help they can get after even their own supporters didn’t show up in force to cheer them on against the Cowboys two weeks ago.

Sunday’s loss is a gut punch, we know, we’ve been there.  You grasp at straws and intermittently even forget that there’s no time machine to bring the game back to a moment where they can possibly do it over and erase what just happened.

With Kansas City not touching the football in overtime, they’re upset that things came down to a coin flip, believing the sudden death rule of scoring a touchdown should be changed.  Many throughout the national media believe the same, with quite a few talking heads also hoping that that rule gets some consideration this offseason.

Just think, if the Chiefs had won, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Fans in New England would instead be evaluating all the plays they didn’t make and the missed opportunities.  Those would be the topics of conversation.  We’d be talking about the interception in the end zone in the second quarter that destroyed a key scoring opportunity for the Patriots, which played a part in allowing the Chiefs to get back into it.  We’d be talking about the missed fourth down conversions.  You know, things like that.

But the Patriots came out on top, so let’s skip things like logic and reason and let the “unfairness” begin.

It’s ridiculous.  They’re trying to make the argument (and they’re wrong) that the Chiefs should have gotten one more chance after squandering countless others all night to match New England’s touchdown.  However, when you have a defense who can’t stop anyone and a quarterback who was the real reason the Chiefs got as far as they did, you tend to freak out and join all the other opposing fans around the league and start beating the drum for a rule change.

Disagree?  Well, all you need to do is take one key factor into consideration and realize that what happened to close this one out is the reason why the NFL already made the right call when they decided to force teams to have to score a touchdown to win the game instead of a field goal to begin with.

Brady had to put together a 13-play drive to close Sunday’s game out.

In order to win this football game, the Patriots had to put together their second-longest drive of the night, with Brady forced to dig deep one last time and put together a 13-play sequence in order to punch it in for the game-winner.  They also had to convert three 3rd-and-10s along the way, each of which required precision throws and terrific plays by Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski to keep it going, with the Chiefs giving up plays of 20, 15 and 15 yards respectively.

It’s really simple.  When you give up plays of 15+ three times on third down in overtime, you deserve to lose.  That would be the narrative if the roles were reversed and Patriots fans know that better than anyone given past experience.

In the meantime, that won’t stop anyone from complaining about the outcome and the rule in place they feel took away their shot.  Maybe they can spend the offseason watching the film and realizing there were bigger reasons why they lost the game.   Maybe they’ll realize that had Kansas City managed to put up a single point with their high-powered offense in the first half, things might have turned out differently.

Sunday night saw the Chiefs put together just two drives of more than five plays, relying on big plays to help put them in position to score.  On the other side, the Patriots offense consistently sustained drives, with 7 of their 12 drives lasting 8 plays or more, including four that went for 10+ as they ate up the clock and kept the football out of Mahomes’ hands.

Michel had a big night Sunday night.

Holding onto the football requires precision and execution to move the ball down the field and keep the chains moving. Sony Michel, who rushed for 113-yards on the night against the Chiefs defense, credited the Patriots offensive line for allowing them to put those drives together and set the tone early.

“We just went out there and executed our game plan,” said Michel after the game. “Guys did their jobs and it helped us drive the ball down the field. That’s what we needed. We needed a fast start and they kind of helped us.”

Meanwhile, despite Kansas City’s 24-point fourth quarter, New England held the ball for 11:47 compared to just 3:13 for the Chiefs.  While the Chiefs eventually made some big plays down the stretch, as explosive as they were, it came down to execution as the reason the Patriots came out on top.

Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford admitted as much after the game.

“They executed, and we didn’t at the end of the day,” said Ford. “Execution trumps everything, especially in overtime being what’s at stake at this time of the year.”

Good teams find a way to win in big moments.  Give the Chiefs credit, they forced this one to come down to the wire and gave the Patriots all they could handle.  Fortunately, Brady and the offense maintained their poise and executed at a championship level, especially when it mattered most.

And as much as it might hurt all the Patriots haters to admit, that, not the overtime rule, is the real reason why the Patriots are moving on to Atlanta.

Beat L.A. Now Patriots Rally Cry

Bob George
at 10:44 am ET

May 23, 1982.  The day that it began.

It was a gloomy, overcast Sunday afternoon in Boston.  At the old Boston Garden, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers were playing Game 7 of the 1982 NBA East Finals.  It was just like the previous year, in 1981.  The Sixers ran to a 3-1 games lead in the East Finals, but the Celtics won Game 5 at home and Game 6 at the Spectrum to force the seventh game at home on a Sunday.

In 1981, Larry Bird’s clutch shooting and a smothering team defense helped pull out a 91-90 win to send the Celtics to the NBA Finals, which they won in six games over the Houston Rockets.  1982 proved to be totally different.  Andrew Toney hit on 14 of 23 from the field for 34 points, UMass’ Julius Erving chipped in with 29 points, the Sixers won every quarter and advanced to the NBA Finals with a convincing 120-106 win.

With about five minutes left in the game, and the outcome decided, something strange happened at the Garden.  The fans could be heard chanting “Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!”  In a show of tremendous sportsmanship, the Celtic fans uplifted the visiting Sixers in hopes they would beat the Lakers in the finals.  The broadcasters for CBS, Dick Stockton and Bill Russell, picked up on it and applauded the crowd for being such good sports.

For the record, the Lakers won the title in six games, so the chants didn’t work that year.

Two years later, the Celtics and Lakers staged an NBA Finals for the ages.  It went the seven-game limit, with the Celtics winning Game 7 at steamy hot Boston Garden, 111-102.  All throughout the series, Garden fans kept bellowing “Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!”  The following year, the chants came back as these two teams once again battled for the NBA title, but in 1985 the Lakers won the championship with a clinching Game 6 win in Boston.  Two years later, the chants returned, but the 1987 Lakers took the Celtics in six games, winning the clincher out in the LA Forum.

It took nineteen years, but the chant finally returned in 2008.  Everyone in the region celebrated the return of the Celtics and Lakers to the NBA Finals, calling it “just like old times!”  The Celtics won it all in six games, culminating in a 131-92 demolition of the Lakers in the clincher.  Two years later it came back again, but the Lakers took the Celtics in seven games, clinching out west at the Staples Center.

The chant went dormant for eight years, but it came back.  Just not at the Boston Garden, or the TD Garden, but rather at Fenway Park.

Last fall, the Red Sox and Dodgers hooked up in the 2018 World Series.  Games 1 and 2 were at Fenway, and all throughout the games you could hear the “Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!” chants.  The Sox won the series in five games, clinching out at Dodger Stadium, but hearing the old Celtic chant at a different venue was delightfully different and fun to listen to.

Now, a little over three months later, the chant gets to come back.  It’s too bad that it won’t be at Gillette Stadium, but rather at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in two weeks, as well as various sports watering holes around greater Boston and all throughout New England.

The Patriots and Rams will play in Super Bowl LIII in two weeks.  Since first meeting in the Big Show seventeen years ago, the Rams left St. Louis and moved back to the second city of their existence, as well as the city still most identified with this franchise.  The Rams have now been back in Los Angeles for three seasons, and even though the local, indigenous Rams fans are still outnumbered by fans of the visiting team, thus far the Rams have been a huge hit in Los Angeles, with a palatial new stadium just a little over a year away.

And with the Rams being back in LA, it’s time for Patriot Nation to join Celtic and Red Sox fans and belt out maybe the most celebrated chant in the history of Boston sports:

“Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!” 

The nice thing about this time to bring back the chant is that it’s quite possible that much, if not most, of the nation might be on the side of the Patriots.  Even though the USA in general is sick of the Patriots returning for still another Super Bowl, the nation might be more upset at the Rams thanks to the penalty that wasn’t called on Nickell Robey-Coleman for clobbering Tommylee Jones way too early as he was trying to catch a sideline pass from Drew Brees.  Suffice it to say that everyone in the Big Easy and the entire Bayou State will be huge Patriot fans over the next two weeks.  But this missed call, which the NFL office admits was a mistake, might shift the nation towards being in favor of the Patriots.

Add to that the tenuous state of local sports fans in southern California, and it’s largely possible that in two weeks in Atlanta, you might have a very pro-Patriot crowd.  And if that’s the case, you the Patriot fan who gets to go to the big game needs to hunker down with Celtics fans and learn this chant.

That’s being facetious, of course.  You already know the chant.  Yelling it with the proper passion might take a little practice, especially if you are not a basketball aficionado.

The Super Bowl won’t be at Gillette, but rather at a neutral site.  Yelling this chant in the Garden or Fenway is one thing.  But at a neutral stadium, it will be a different environment.  And if you do get a stadium filled with Rams haters or indifferent fans who are there just because of who they know or what their placement on the Forbes list of the richest Americans is, Patriot Nation has to take the lead here and teach the crowd this wonderful chant.

Therefore, when those of us who will have to watch the Super Bowl at home and can’t be there to join the Patriot throng in being de facto cheerleaders are either sitting at home or at a party watching the game on TV, we need to hear it.  We need Jim Nantz and Tony Romo to recognize it and say something, not that they will know its origins.  We need Rams Nation (if such a group of fans actually exists) to hear it.  It has to be there.  And it has to be strong.

This is a most delightfully unexpected need to chant this again.  Celtics and Red Sox fans know what to do.  Time for Patriot Nation to get their pipes ready to yell it, loud, strong and often.  It’s arguably the most famous chant in the region.

“Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!  Beat L.A.!”  Like we said, just like old times.  It’s now the Rams’ turn.

Patriots Report Card In AFC Championship Win Over Kansas City

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:00 am ET

Well… That was a wild finish to that game. The fourth quarter and overtime were exactly the way we described it in our pregame matchup piece, an instant classic. A low scoring game for three quarters exploded in the final 20 minutes of the 4th quarter/OT.

The Patriots went on the road in a very tough place to play in front of a very raucous crowd and were able to pull out a very impressive win to capture their third straight AFC championship and for the Brady/Belichick legacy, this is their ninth Super Bowl appearance since 2001.

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s blowout win:

Quarterback: A

Tom Brady came out of the gate and led the Patriots on a beautifully called opening drive where the Patriots went 80 yards and ate up eight minutes of the first quarter before the Chiefs even touched the ball. They went back down again with a chance to go up 14 and Brady threw an interception on the end zone on a poor decision. Late in the half, he threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett on a really nice pass to the corner of the end zone.

Brady ended up completing 30-46 for 348 yards with a TD and 2 interceptions, the other going off Edelman’s hands and right into the hands of the defender. But after the Chiefs found their offensive mojo and came to take the lead, the Patriots needed Brady’s magic. He gave it to them in spades.

In the last eight and a half minutes of the game, (3:32 in regulation and about 5 minutes of OT) Brady led the Patriots to three touchdown drives. He was vintage Tom Brady and checked all the blocks: Throwing into tight windows? Check. Zipping the ball downfield? Yes for certain. During those last three drives, Brady was 11-16 for 147 yards.  And a perfect 5-5 on 3rd downs. In Overtime, the Patriots converted three 3rd and 10s.

Lucky? Why are we still even having this drivel asked anymore?

Running Backs: A

The Patriots were once again led on the ground by Sony Michel, the rookie had another very productive day, grinding out 113 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns. He was spelled late in the game by Rex Burkhead who ran 12 times for 41 yards and two touchdowns including the game winner in Overtime.

James White didn’t have a big a role as we envisioned carrying just six times for 23 yards. The Patriots rolled up 176 yards on the ground. They did exactly what was asked of them, they set the tone early in the game and then late when the Chiefs were selling out on their pass rush, they gashed them for three late scores.

Wide Receivers: A-

Julian Edelman was once again the Patriots leading receiver with 7 catches for 96 yards and he was immense in the game-winning drive converting two huge 3rd and 10 scenarios with a 20 and 15 yard gain. But he was nearly the goat. He had a pass bounce off his hands and right into a Chiefs linebacker’s (Sorensen) for an easy interception. But he more than made up for that during crunch time. With the hits he took down the middle Edelman once again proved he is as tough as woodpecker lips.

Chris Hogan chipped in with five catches for 45 yards including a huge third-down conversion where he dove and pulled the ball into the crook of his arm for a catch that was challenged but upheld. White had four catches for 49 yards including a huge 30-yard screen pass that set up a score. Phillip Dorsett had just one catch but it was a big one, a 29-yard touchdown. Burkhead had four catches for 23 yards, Cordarrelle Patterson had two for 18, James Develin added in one for nine.

Tight Ends: A

Rob Gronkowski once again dominated in the running game. He, Dwayne Allen, and Develin unleashed the backs with some crushing blocks on the linebackers and edge players. But the Chiefs decided to single cover Gronkowski mostly with a single safety (Eric Berry).

Gronkowski had a big game in the passing department as well hauling in six passes for 79 including the huge 15-yarder over Berry that set-up the final runs by Burkhead that gave them the win. It was an almost vintage-like Gronkowski performance and a well-needed one.

Offensive Line: A

The offensive line had another dominant performance. The Patriots rolled up 524 yards of offense, they ran 94 offensive plays and had only one play (1) go for negative yardage. The kneel down by Tom Brady at the end of regulation.  Kansas City had a very good group of pass rushers who tallied up 52 sacks in the regular season.

Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney dominated Chris Jones last night and not only did he not get any pressure on Brady, but they also pushed him around a lot in the running game.

This was magnified by the Patriots being on the road in a very loud stadium. So the Chiefs could anticipate the snaps from Brady without having to worry about a hard count. Brady was pressured on only seven of 46 dropbacks. Outstanding.

Defensive Line: B+

The Patriots defensive line had a very big game. The Chiefs running game was registered as an afterthought gaining only 41 yards on 12 carries. The defensive line did a great job of mostly containing Patrick Mahomes in the pocket and bringing pressure.

Trey Flowers was terrific on the edge and Lawrence Guy and Malcom Brown were stout inside. Flowers had a sack, a tackle for a loss and two QB hits. Guy split a sack with John Simon.  Adam Butler came on in passing downs and helped push the pocket.

Linebackers: A-

The Patriots much-maligned linebacking corps had another big day. Kyle Van Noy was outstanding, making plays all over the field. He had a pair of sacks, six QB pressures, and five run stops. He was a pain in the ass for the Chiefs offensive line all night.

Dont’a Hightower had another strong game playing 100 percent of the snaps and providing some pressure up the middle. John Simon saw more snaps than Elandon Roberts and had another under the radar strong game. He had a half-sack, and three QB pressures.

Secondary: A-

Wait you say. They gave up 31 points and 24 in the fourth quarter??? Well, look at the job that the secondary did on shutting down Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Those two combined for just four catches for 65 yards. No one held them under 100 yards all season and the Patriots did it in Arrowhead. Hill was doubled by Jonathan Jones/Keion Crossen with outstanding help over the top by Devin McCourty. Big Mac was terrific.

Sammy Watkins had 4 catches for 114 yards but his big one, 54-yarder was one play where Mahomes had all day to throw and Watkins finally shook free from Stephon Gilmore. The Pats moved Gilmore over to Kelce in the second half and he smothered him.

Rookie J.C. Jackson was the victim of several flags and was beat by Kelce (with a push off) for a touchdown.

Special Teams: A-

The only potential bad play was the almost muff by Edelman on a bouncing punt. It was a near and potentially game changer. But Edelman was very good in the punt return game returning three for 38 yards. Patterson had three kick returns for 80 yards including a nice 38 yarder. The coverage units did a much better job time around.  Ryan Allen was solid and Stephen Gostkowski hit a difficult 47-yard field goal considering the conditions.

Coaching: A+

Bill Belichick had an absolutely masterful game plan and the players executed it flawlessly in the first half. The Chiefs were shut out at home for the first time all season and they held them to just 32 yards of offense. They would adjust and finally explode with a huge fourth quarter but that allowed the Patriots to play with the lead all game.

Josh McDaniels called another strong game. He knew where the Chiefs’ weaknesses were and the Patriots offense rolled up 524 yards while having a more than double time of possession advantage (43:50 to 20:53).

Brian Flores called another very good game as the Patriots defense held Kansas City to under 300 yards of total offense. Penalties hurt but those are part of the game. We’re on to Atlanta and Super Bowl 53.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as our writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

Five Things We Learned From the Patriots AFC Championship Win Over the Chiefs

Ian Logue
January 21, 2019 at 10:15 am ET

Sunday night’s battle against the Chiefs was one for the ages, with the Patriots fortunately ending up on the right side of an improbable 37-31 victory over Kansas City to send them to Atlanta for their third-straight Super Bowl appearance.

Here’s a rundown of what we learned from this incredible win.

1) Terrific – and a little lucky – performance by Edelman – Julian Edelman put together a terrific outing against Kansas City and once again ended up being the difference-maker in a game where New England had to fight for every inch in a hostile environment.

He finished Sunday’s game with 7 receptions for 96-yards, with 4 of those seven receptions coming on third down at critical moments, two of which were during the Patriots’ game-winning drive in overtime.

Edelman did catch a break in what could have been a game-changer after making a mental error that he got a little lucky on in the fourth quarter where he initially waved off a punt, but then seemingly decided to try and field it at his own 31-yard line. Fortunately, the ball bounced just over his hands and past his arm, which at first glance the officials thought it touched him and Kansas City recovered. Replay confirmed he didn’t touch it and luckily, New England maintained possession.

The bad news was, two plays later, Edelman saw a pass thrown his way bounce off his hands and into the arms of safety Daniel Sorensen for the interception. The Chiefs turned that into a go-ahead touchdown, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes finding Damien Williams for a 23-yard scoring strike, which put them up 21-17 with just under eight minutes left to play.

That sequence aside, Edelman was a huge key to their win on Sunday as the Patriots managed to just enough to beat a Chiefs team that certainly didn’t make it easy.

Brady was terrific Sunday night against the Chiefs.

2) A Near Flawless Showing by Brady – Like Edelman, Brady had his one miscue of the night but overall was terrific and as usual, came up big when it mattered most.

He finished Sunday’s game 30-of-46 (65.2%) for 348 yards and a touchdown, but also had two interceptions, one of which was brutal. After opening the game by engineering a terrific 15-play, 80-yard drive which ate up over 8-minutes and ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Sony Michel, he had a rare mental error on the ensuing possession.

Following their opening touchdown drive, New England’s defense got the Chiefs off the field, with Brady and the offense ending up with terrific field position at the Chiefs’ 44-yard line. From there, Brady marched them down the field on 10-plays down to the Kansas City 1-yard line. However, the veteran quarterback then made an ill-advised throw after Rob Gronkowski got behind the Chiefs secondary but Brady fired it at him instead of lofting it up to him and linebacker Reggie Ragland picked it off in the end zone and killed the drive.

Fortunately, that was the only real mistake he made on the night and the biggest number that stands out was the fact the Patriots converted an unbelievable 13-of-19 (68%) on third down, and Brady was part of all but four of those conversions. He completed 9-of-11 (82%) on third down, all of which moved the chains, including a perfect 3-of-3 in overtime.

From the moment Matthew Slater called heads and the Patriots took the field, there was little doubt of what was about to unfold. 13 plays later, Rex Burkhead was in the end zone after Brady calmly took them down and put the dagger in the heart of every Kansas City fan in that stadium. They screamed all night and made things tough, but thanks to another incredible finish by the veteran quarterback, they quietly filed out when it was over and went home disappointed.

Great players come up big in key moments and Brady finished the evening with another one for the ages as he advances to an incredible ninth Super Bowl appearance.

New England’s defense was solid Sunday night.

3) Terrific showing by the defense – On a night where the offense played well, they still needed a little help on the other side of the football and the Patriots defense put together an incredible performance against a tough football team.

While this group will likely be criticized for the 24 fourth-quarter points they allowed, you have to give them credit for the fact they held down an explosive Chiefs team that struggled to sustain drives against them.

They shut them out in the first half and did a great job of getting pressure on Patrick Mahomes, harassing him for most of the night and made two big third-down sacks in the first half, one of which took away points. After a 42-yard play to Tyreek Hill got the Chiefs down to the Patriots 23-yard line, Trey Flowers made a huge sack on Mahomes as he tried to scramble away, which saw him lose 14-yards on the play. It was a key play by Flowers as it knocked the Chiefs out of field goal range and forced them to have to punt away the football. The Patriots then ended up putting together a touchdown drive on their ensuing possession that put them up 14-0.

Plays like that are the equivalent of a turnover and you have to give them credit for holding the Chiefs in check the way they did in front of their home crowd. Granted, Kansas City obviously had their moments, but luckily the Patriots ended up with more of them after knocking off the AFC’s top seed.

Gronkowski played well during the Patriots win.

4) Great to see Gronk doing Gronk-Like things – Like Edelman, Rob Gronkowski’s night wasn’t perfect but he was absolutely huge both in the passing game and in the running game.

The veteran tight end was quietly one of the big contributors to Sony Michel’s night running the football, making several key blocks in this game while also managing to make some key contributions catching the ball when it mattered most.

Gronkowski finished the evening with 6 receptions for 79-yards, his last of which came in overtime on a key 3rd-and-10 that went for 15-yards. That reception put them down to the Chiefs 15-yard line and helped set up Burkhead’s game-winning 2-yard touchdown run.

He was solid in this game, albeit a little lucky. He had a third down sequence that could have ended up significantly differently, which came with a minute left to play in the game.

Trailing 28-24, Brady threw a pass to Gronkowski to the right flat that went through the tight end’s hands and was picked off by Chiefs defensive back Charvarius Ward for what appeared to be a game-ending interception. However, Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford negated the play after he jumped offsides prior to the snap, taking away the the turnover. Gronkowski would catch a 25-yard pass on the next play, setting up New England’s go-ahead score thanks to a 4-yard touchdown run by Burkhead, putting them up 31-28 with 0:39 left to play in regulation.

Gronkowski appeared happy and relieved when this one was over and it was good to see him have such a terrific showing after what’s clearly been a difficult year for him. While he certainly doesn’t appear to be 100%, he’s been solid enough where the Patriots should like their chances if he can pull together one last big effort against the Rams.

Michel was outstanding Sunday night.

5) Michel was huge, again – For those people out there still resentful of the fact the Patriots spent a first-round pick on Michel, it’s hard not to appreciate the fact that the team wouldn’t be in this position without him.

Michel came up with another 100-yard rushing performance, totaling 113-yards on 29 carries along with two touchdowns, including a huge one on 4th down in the fourth-quarter. On the play, Michel broke away on a 4th-and-1 from the Chiefs’ 10-yard line, scampering into the end zone after he slipped past the defense.

That touchdown play was a critical moment, as it not only allowed the Patriots to re-take the lead, but they also took back the momentum after the Chiefs had scored the go-ahead touchdown on their previous possession following Brady’s interception.

On a night where the weather and the elements certainly played a factor, Michel’s performance wore down the Chiefs defense and allowed the Patriots to dominate the time-of-possession battle after New England held the ball for over 40 minutes, keeping the ball out of Mahomes hands and limiting what damage Kansas City was able to do offensively.

Without Michel, it’s hard to believe that the Patriots would have been able to have been as effective as they were and at this point, he’s more than held up his end of the deal as a first-round pick. Given that not everyone drafted in the first round is a guarantee in terms of their contributions, Michel has definitely given them a championship-caliber effort with the way he’s run the football.

For a team that seemed to be in tough shape earlier in the year offensively, thanks to Michel, this group appears to have finally figured out how to put it all together at just the right time. With the Rams up next, Michel could, again, be the difference in a game that will likely be another tough battle when they take the field again in two weeks.

Brady Engineers OT Drive To Lift Patriots in 37-31 Win Over KC

Steve Balestrieri
at 6:00 am ET

Patriots Heading to Atlanta For Super Bowl

It all came down to the coin flip. The Patriots and Chiefs battled like two heavyweight boxers for 60 minutes with each landing haymakers in the fourth quarter leaving the other battered and wobbly but still standing. It would go down to overtime. And there was little doubt that whoever got the ball first was going to score and move on.

And it just so happened that the Patriots won the toss and Matthew Slater emphatically told the referee, “We Want the Ball!” Once again Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman worked their magic to lift the Patriots to the Super Bowl. The only way to ensure the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t score in OT was to not let them touch the ball. And that is exactly what they did. Rex Burkhead actually did the honors, running it in easily from the two-yard line but the three veterans came up huge in key third downs in the overtime.

But while we focused on the exhilarating fourth quarter, it would ignore another coaching gem from Bill Belichick. Belichick and the Patriots have faced the league’s top offense in the postseason five times and their record is now 4-1.

Faced with a team that can literally score at any place on the field and was outscoring opponents at home 49-0 in the first quarter, the Patriots could not afford to fall behind like that on the road in that stadium. So Belichick the coach showed why he is still the master at game planning going against his good friend Andy Reid who loves to script an early way to get his offense rolling.

The Patriots took the opening kickoff and stunned the crowd and the Chiefs defense by holding onto the ball for eight minutes before Sony Michel scored from the one-yard line. The Pats had already taken the Chiefs out of their game and they hounded and confused QB Pat Mahomes in the first half. Belichick essentially snuffed the Chiefs fast-break offense into a plodding half-court game.

They brought tremendous pressure up the A-Gap and unlike the first game in New England, this time they were getting home. The Patriots sacked Mahomes three times in the first half for 42 yards. Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower were getting in Mahomes face.

They did it by taking away the Chiefs two biggest weapons in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce and made the Chiefs try to win with their secondary players…they almost did. But Hill had one catch for 42 yards which went for naught and Kelce had a quiet three catches for 23 yards.

The Patriots held the ball for over 20 minutes in the first half to the Chiefs 8:53, They outgained the Chiefs 245 to just 32 and led 14-0 at the break and if not for a bad and uncharacteristic mistake by Brady at the KC one-yard line, may have put the Chiefs away in the first half.

On third and goal from the one, Brady play-actioned passed to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, but he threw short and Reggie Ragland intercepted him and the Chiefs got the ball at the 20.

The Patriots would score just 27 seconds before the half when Brady engineered a nice drive that began at the Patriots 10-yard line and covered 90 yards and began with 3:08 remaining. The big play was a huge 30-yard screen pass to James White that set them up at the KC 38 with 41 seconds left. On second and one from the 29, Brady threw a beautiful back-shoulder throw to Phillip Dorsett for a 29-yard touchdown.

But just like in New England in Week 6, the Chiefs offense awoke in the second half. On their opening drive, they faced a third and two from their 32. Mahomes had all day to throw and Sammy Watkins eventually slipped past Stephon Gilmore and Mahomes delivered a strike for 54-yards. On the next snap, he hit Kelce who got away with a push off at the five and the Chiefs were on the board and in business.

After holding the Chiefs deep inside their zone and forcing a punt, Julian Edelman returned it 13 yards to the KC 37. But the Patriots would only get eight yards on the ensuing drive and Stephen Gostkowski boomed a 47-yard field goal which, in those conditions was hardly a sure thing.

Kelce then got an iffy pass interference call on J.C. Jackson on third down on the ensuing KC drive at the Patriots 14 which put the ball on the one. Mahomes hit Damien Williams for a one-yard score to make it 17-14.

The Patriots drove to the Chiefs 25 but on fourth and one, Burkhead was stuffed by Daniel Sorensen. The teams traded punts and then disaster struck. After nearly muffing the punt at the 26, Julian Edelman let a Brady pass bounce off his hands and right into the hands of Sorensen who returned it to the NE 23. That set off a wild sequence of events to finish the game in regulation.

Two plays later, Mahomes hit Williams with a beautifully designed pass play where he scored easily from 23-yards to give the Chiefs the lead at 21-17. Brady went to work taking the Patriots another 75 yards for a score.

Facing a 3rd and 8 from the NE 45, Chris Hogan made a diving stab at the ball where he got it tucked in the crook of his arm and fell to the turf for a gain of 11. The play was challenged but upheld which would cost Reid and the Chiefs a valuable time out.

Burkhead had a run of 14 and Gronkowski got them back down inside the red zone with a catch for 11 before Sony Michel burst up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown. The Patriots had the lead back 24-21 with just 3:32 left in the game.

The Patriots had a turnover reversed when a Kelce fumble and recovery by Hightower was erased by a holding call on Jackson, who would then get hit with another pass interference penalty. From the NE 40, Mahomes then hit Watkins with a 38-yard pass play down to the NE 2. Williams rolled in for his third touchdown of the game to put the Chiefs back up 28-24 with 2:03 left.

Brady began the drive with a 20-yard BB to Edelman down the middle. On 3rd and 10, Brady was picked off but Dee Ford lined up offside, giving the Patriots new life. On 3rd and 5, Brady delivered a huge play to Gronkowski down the left sideline for 25 yards to the Chiefs four. On first and goal, Burkhead burst in from the four and the Patriots once again took the lead 31-28 (our prediction) with just 39 ticks left.

It would be more than enough for Mahomes to tie it up. First, he hit Spencer  Ware for 21-yards, then he delivered a 27 yarder to Demarcus Robinson with just 16 seconds left. A pass was overthrown out of bounds into the end zone where Harrison Butker kicked a 39-yard field goal to tie the wild fourth quarter up with just 8 seconds to go.

In overtime, Brady showed why you should never count the Patriots out. Facing a third and 10 from the 35, he hit Edelman with a huge 20-yard pass play where he took a big hit after coming down with the ball. The Patriots faced another big 3rd and 10 from the KC 45 and once again it was Edelman with a big catch for 15 yards down to the 30.

Once again, on 3rd and 10, Brady hit Gronkowski for 15 yards down to the Chiefs 15 and that old familiar feeling was creeping in that the Patriots were going to end this. Burkhead sliced up the middle for 10 yards down to the five. On first down, he carried to the two and on second down he easily powered in for the touchdown and the Patriots were going to their third Super Bowl in a row and their 5th in six years.

To look at the stat sheet, you’d have thought that this game was a blowout. New England outgained KC 524 to 290, had 36 first downs to 18 for the Chiefs, held the ball for 43:59 to the Chiefs just 20:53. The Patriots ran 94 plays to just 47 for KC.

The offensive line once again turned in an outstanding performance, the team ran for 176 yards of which Sony Michel ran 29 times for 113 yards and two TDs Burkhead carried 12 times for 41 yards and two TDs. Brady wasn’t sacked once and completed 30-46 for 348 yards with one score and the two picks. Edelman had seven catches for 96 yards. Gronkowski had six catches for 79 yards and was immense in the running game.

Mahomes finished 16-31 for 295 yards and 3 TDs but the four sacks he suffered put them back 46 yards. The Chiefs running game managed just 41 yards on 12 carries. Watkins had a big day with 114 yards on four catches.

This was a scrap that the Patriots got off to a big lead, and then had to claw and scratch their way to a huge victory on the road where the #1 seed and the home team was favored. And to do so, they got fantastic performances by Belichick, Brady, Edelman, Gronkowski, and Michel.

After all the questioning of this team seemingly all season, they are on their way to another Super Bowl. We’re on to Atlanta.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from discuss the latest Patriots news.

New England Patriots News 1-20, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
January 20, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 01-20, & AFC East Notes.

Some Quick Hitters this morning: *No AFC East notes this week*

Politics and Sports: Most of us enjoy sports as an outlet free from the day-to-day politics that now permeate our lives. One of my other jobs is to write about military and politics. And it is frankly much less enjoyable than this one. And it is always an uncomfortable moment at least for some of us when the two worlds of sports and politics collide.

Case in point, the Red Sox Alex Cora stating this week wavering on whether or not he’ll attend the ceremony at the White House to honor the Red Sox. Cora and the Sox are hardly the first in this. It has become a tradition for the standing President to host the winning team for a short visit for the purpose of honoring the champs. Now it has become a big story whoever wins a championship over who is NOT attending.

Perhaps, because this country has become so partisan and intolerant of any views other than their own, it is time for the practice to end. When the President invites someone to the White House, it is supposed to be received as respect for the office and not necessarily the man that the invitee would attend. Sadly, we as a whole have forgotten that.

Brady’s Accomplishments Get Pushed Aside Over the Cliff Talk: Trey Wingo on ESPN had a pretty interesting segment, that I caught on a replay, late on Sunday night after the Patriots win over the Chargers.

Wingo stated that Brady was playing in his 13th conference championship (today) and If you throw out 2008 where he played on the first quarter of the first game, he’s played in 17 NFL seasons. His percentage of reaching the conference championship game is at 76 percent. Wingo stated, Drew Brees just set the NFL record with a 74 % completion percentage this season. Wingo added, “Brady has a higher chance of a reaching a championship game than any QB ever had of completing a single pass.”

But I bet if you watch many of those other national shows, you didn’t see that, right?

Did you Know? From Inside Edge: When Tom Brady has more passing yards than his average (279), his team is 12-2 (.857) since the start of last season — best of 27 Qualified QBs in NFL; League Avg: .487

Did you Know Pt. 2: From Inside Edge- The Patriots are undefeated (16-0) when having the lead at the end of quarter 1 since the start of last season — tied for best in NFL; League Avg: .749 Also… The Patriots are 33-2 (.943) when leading at the end of the first half since the start of the 2016 season — best in NFL; League Avg: .799

Did you Know Pt. 3: From Inside Edge- The Patriots are 29-5 (.853) when forcing 1 or more turnovers since the start of the 2016 season — best in NFL; League Avg: .591

Trade Foles? Folly: After the Eagles dramatic loss to the Saints last week when Nick Foles pass passed right thru Alshon Jeffrey’s hands for an interception to seal a win for New Orleans, we still see the “trade Nick Foles” talk.

Foles led the Eagles to a Super Bowl win last season and got them on a hot streak down the stretch and nearly pulled off a monumental upset last week. Philly would be insane to trade him rather than Carson Wentz. But hey, trade him to New England. With that “cliff” right around the corner, I’d take that guy as my QB in a second.

Edelman Remains A Key Component in the Offense:

Julian Edelman had a huge game for the Patriots last week against the Chargers catching nine passes for 151 yards which comes as a surprise to no one who follows this team regularly. Edelman’s nine catches now rank him #2 all-time in the career playoff list behind only Jerry Rice.

His 151-yard performance was the fifth in his career, the only two players with more 100-yard receiving games in the playoffs (Rice with 9 and Michael Irvin with 6) reside in Canton. Yet when people think of playoff superstars, does Edelman’s name ever come to mind? Perhaps it should start. His catch two years ago against the Falcons in the Super Bowl was the stuff of legend.

His QB knows how valuable he is to this offense and on Monday Brady spoke about how Edelman (much like himself) had grown into a tremendous player. “You just remember when nobody thought about Julian as what he’s become, except Julian,” Brady said.

“That’s a great lesson for all of us: When you believe in yourself, you can accomplish a lot of things. Julian has always had great belief in himself, and he’s had an incredible career. I think yesterday was one of the best games he’s ever played, at the biggest moment. That’s when Julian is at his best — in the biggest moments.”

If the Patriots are to win today and move on to Atlanta in the Super Bowl, they’ll no doubt need another big performance from Edelman. He currently ranks 7th all-time in playoff receiving yardage. With another 141 more, he’ll move all the way into 2nd place there, also behind Rice. Another two games could probably do the trick. It is amazing how underrated Edelman has been in his career. Still known only as a slot receiver, he’s been much, much more here in New England. He can play the “X”, the “Z” or the slot. He’s lined up in the backfield and runs the jet sweeps and returns kicks.

He probably won’t sniff Canton, but perhaps when his playing career is over, he should be in the conversation. Not bad for an option QB, that had to go to Junior College and learn an entirely new position in the NFL.

Patriots Embracing the Underdog Role:

With the end of the Chargers game, Tom Brady in his on-field interview with Tracy Wolfson said what the entire team is feeling and they are embracing it. Everyone outside of New England is wanting the Patriots to lose, picking them to lose and basically hoping they’ll lose. Of course, Brady’s “everyone thinks we suck” quote was reiterated in the locker room which produced a silly hair-splitting response from Andrew Siciliano asking “where did anyone say that?”

On his own network, one former player turned analyst gave the Chiefs every competitive advantage in the two teams’ matchups, (QB, RB, Pass Catchers, Defense, and Coaching).

One said that he’d take any QB over Brady in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Another had Brady 6th among trusted QBs in the playoffs. The ESPN “Power Poll” gives New England the least chance of winning the SB with a 15 percent chance of winning it all. And there were plenty of writers who gladly jumped on the “Patriots dynasty is dead” storyline only to see the Pats put a curb-stomping on the Chargers the likes of which we haven’t seen since “A Bronx Tale” bar scene.

We get it here, everyone is sick of seeing the Patriots win and no one outside of the New England states wants to see Brady and Belichick in another Super Bowl. But stop with this foolishness. I’ve seen several places where it has been said, the Patriots “have to play a perfect game to beat KC.”

Flashback to Week 6, NE gave up a 97-yard KO return, a 67-yard TD pass, a 75-yard TD pass, and Brady fumbled at the New England 29 to set up the Chiefs on a short field. Hardly perfect, but yet the Patriots won. Make no mistake, they have to play an excellent game tonight, but perfect? No. The Chiefs are latest, team du jour who everyone is rallying around as the next great team, and the one they want/hope will dethrone the Patriots.  

Patriots Versatility in the Running Game Key Tonight:

One Patriots’ key to winning this game is to remain balanced on offense and having the running game be effective. Their still a passing team first, however, an effective running game keeps the defenses honest and slows down the pass rushers, allowing Brady to throw from a clean pocket.

The Patriots have been running a lot of “21 Personnel” (2 RB, 1 TE, 2WR) packages down the stretch. And it has been a big reason why the offense has been so effective. They can mix and match different combinations with the backs and it gives options to Brady on how he wants to attack the defense, given how they match up defensively.

During the Week 6 matchup, the Patriots shredded KC’s defense when running the “21” package. They had a 65 percent success rate while running out of it with an average of 5.1 yards per rushing attempt. And an even better success rate of passing out of it, with an 80 percent success rate where Brady averaged 15.4 yards per attempt while passing out of the “21” package.

Who You Have This Week? NFL Conference Weekend Predictions:

Final Regular Season 165-89-2

Wildcard Weekend:  0-4

Divisional Weekend: 4-0

New England over Kansas City
New Orleans over LA Rams

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

VIDEO: Fitzy and Francis Preview The AFC Championship

Robert Alvarez
January 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm ET

New England Patriots Superfan’s Fitzy and Francis sit down with some Chiefs fans for a “roast style” preview of Sunday’s game.

Fitzy Game Preview

A Patriots-Chiefs AFC Championship game preview, Fitzy style.

Posted by New England Patriots on Thursday, January 17, 2019

Be sure to follow more of Fitzy’s Patriots coverage at and on YouTube

Patriots-Chiefs AFC Championship, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:00 am ET

Round Two Winner Goes to the Super Bowl

The New England Patriots travel to Kansas City on Sunday night to take on the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, the winner of which goes on to Atlanta to the Super Bowl.  The Patriots are advancing to their eighth straight AFC title game, an NFL record. With a win, they’ll also become the third team to appear in three straight Super Bowls.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson, Evan Washburn, and Jay Feely will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (12-5) dominated the LA Chargers 41-28. Sony Michel ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns, Tom Brady completed 34-44 for 343 yards and a score, Julian Edelman caught nine passes for 151 yards and James White caught 15 passes as the offense rolled.

The Chiefs (13-4) beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 on a snowy Saturday afternoon. The Chiefs defense played their best game of the year holding the Colts to just 13 points while the offense ran for four scores on the ground. Damien Williams ran for 129 yards on 25 carries and a score. Patrick Mahomes completed 27-41 passes for 278 yards.  

We here at are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2018 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game.

Series History:

The Patriots and the Chiefs are meeting for the 37th time including the playoffs in their history since the days of the old AFL when they would meet twice a year. Kansas City holds the overall lead 18-15-3. The Chiefs hold an 11-3-1 advantage in games played in Kansas City and a 5-1 record at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Patriots won the last meeting between the two teams 43-40 on a Week 6 Sunday Night Football matchup.  

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge. First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Chiefs Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has been a strength of the team down the stretch. Opposing defenses can’t just pin their ears back and rush Tom Brady as they’ve been able to run and run effectively with Sony Michel. In the first meeting, Michel ran for 106 of the Patriots 173 yards on the ground. Rex Burkhead, James White, and FB James Develin will all contribute on the ground as well. The Pats were 5th (127.3 yards per game) on the ground this season.

The Chiefs defense was pretty awful against the run this season, allowing 132.1 yards (27th) on the ground. Last week, however, they were aggressive and took control of the line of scrimmage and kept the Colts at bay. Chris Jones had a very big game for them.

Look for the Patriots to try to control the line of scrimmage, much like they did last week against a much better defense. However, this week the Chiefs are at home, with the deafening crowd noise, they’ll be able to time the snaps and get a very quick jump off. Michel and the ground game will be key on keeping the balance they need to keep the offense moving. They controlled the line last week and in the first meeting but this one will be tougher. The Jet sweeps weren’t a big factor the first time, but may very well be on Sunday night, taking advantage of the linemen pushing up the field.

Patriots WRs vs Chiefs Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game last week took advantage of the Chargers zone defense and Brady shredded them for 343 yards. Brady passed for 340 yards in the first meeting on throwing just 34 passes. The Patriots had the 8th best passing game (266.1 yards per game) in the league in 2018.

The Chiefs pass defense was worse than their run defense in the regular season allowing 273.4 yards per game (31st in the NFL) What they lived off of was their pass rush which is excellent. Chris Jones, Justin Houston, and Dee Ford, can not only get after the opposing quarterback but knock down passes as well. Their secondary should have Eric Berry back and they’ve played much better with him than without.

Look for Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton to try to jam the middle of the field and contest all of the short to intermediate throwing areas that Brady thrives in. If they force him to hold onto the ball a bit longer, it will allow their pass rush to get home.

The Patriots will try to move Edelman around to create some space on the outside, while trying to clear out the flat for James White to work in the passing game. Kansas City allowed the 5th most passing yardage to running backs this season. Brady will look to attack the middle of the field first. Gronkowski hurt the Chiefs with two big pass plays by getting the one-on-one matchups when they were there. That will definitely be in play if it becomes available to them.

Pass protection is everything in this game for the Patriots, regardless of the running game, it is still a complimentary game and they remain a passing team first and foremost. Key matchup here is LT Trent Brown against Chris Jones in both the running and passing games. With crowd noise and not being able to mix up their snaps, the Chiefs will look to tee off. Flashback to Pittsburgh, the OL can’t shoot itself in the foot again with double-digit false starts again.

Next up the Kansas City offense:

Chiefs RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Kansas City

The Chiefs lost their workhorse in Kareem Hunt but have gotten nearly identical production in the running game from Damien Williams. He gashed the Colts for 129 yards on 25 carries last week. KC had the 16th best running game in the league, averaging 115.9 yards per game.

Kansas City likes to mix in the jet sweep and with the explosive Tyreek Hill, he blew thru the Indy defense for a 36-yard touchdown last week. The Chiefs rushed for 94 yards in the first meeting with Hunt getting 80 of those and averaging 5.5-yards per rush.

The Patriots run defense has really been trending up the past three games. Last week against Melvin Gordon and the Chargers, they allowed just 19 yards on 10 carries.The defensive line and linebackers have been much, much better. On the season they allowed 112.7 yards on the ground (11th in the league).

Andy  Reid has gotten pass-happy in big games before, will he have the patience to stick with his running game on Sunday? I expect the Patriots will go with a lighter front for much of this one and there should be room to run the ball.

Chiefs WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge Kansas City

The Chiefs passing game was positively electric this season. Mahomes threw for 50 TDs and they were third in yards this season with 309.3. But everything goes thru Hill, the small but incredibly fast wide receiver who, if he gets the slightest edge outside is gone. That happened in the first meeting, he got a step on one of the Patriots fastest defenders in Duron Harmon and he blew by him like he was a turnstile at the airport.

Mahomes also has Travis Kelce who caught over 100 passes this year, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, Williams, Specer Ware, and Kelvin Benjamin, who was a healthy scratch last week against the Colts.

The Patriots’ secondary play has improved over the course of the season. Stephon Gilmore had an All-Pro type of season and rookie J.C. Jackson an UDFA from Maryland has come on and played terrific down the stretch. The front seven has gotten plenty of QB pressure but that hasn’t translated into many sacks.

Look for the Reid to run those RPOs (run/pass option) plays that gave New England fits last season. That allows Kelce to get quick separation at the line. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots approach covering Hill. While we fully expect him to be doubled with help over the top, who will draw him? The Patriots will probably get Gilmore on him with safety help over the top. We expect them to chip on Kelce at the line as well, to try to throw off their timing.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots have a solid group of specialists with Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, and returners with Edelman and Cordarrelle Patterson returning punts and kickoffs. The coverage units have been much better when the team added veterans Albert McClellan and Ramon Humber after Thanksgiving.

The Chiefs have kicker Harrison Butker and the excellent Dustin Colquitt in their kicking game. They also have the dangerous Hill and Tremon Smith who had a 97-yard return in the first meeting.

This time however, we’re going with experience. Edelman has been at his best in big games and Patterson is as dangerous a kick returner as there is in the NFL. Look for the Patriots to get after a punt this week.

Next up, who wins and why…


This is shaping up to be an instant classic. The first meeting went right down to the wire with the score tied at 40, Brady hit Gronkowski with a big 42-yard pass play down the field and Gostkowski kicked a FG with three seconds left. We expect another really close game, perhaps not quite as high scoring as the first matchup.

The keys from a Patriots perspective this week are:

Start Fast And Be Ready For the Onslaught:

The Chiefs at home have been ridiculously fast starters, they’ve outscored opponents at home in the first quarter by a huge margin.  Last week against the Colts was no exception. They bolted out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back.

The Patriots have been notoriously slow starters this season, especially on the road. That would be curtains for any chances of winning if that happens. They have to be on top of their game from the opening kickoff. Reid scripts his first 20 plays or so, so we’d expect the Chiefs to throw some wrinkles at them right off the bat. Expect a very aggressive start on both sides of the ball to get the crowd even more into it.

Last week the Patriots got off to the best start in the history of the team in the playoffs last week and that propelled them to an easy win over the Chargers. They need that type of start again.

Mix Things Up:

Offensively, the Patriots have to keep the Chiefs defense off-balance, Third and long situations will unleash the KC pass rush and they have to limit those type of situations. The Pats rolled up 500 yards of offense last time, by doing just that. Running effectively, and spreading the ball around.

Defensively, they won’t pin their ears back and come after Mahomes like they did to Rivers because if he escapes (and frequently does), then a big play is sure to follow. Mix up coverages, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some split coverages by the secondary. The key is contain him and keep him in the pocket. When plays break down and the Chiefs play backyard football, big plays will result.

The Patriots will want to try to slow the pace down this week, a track meet will really favor the Chiefs at home. They want to grind them down with slow, methodical drives that eat the clock.

Win STs/Red Zone:

The Patriots special teams have been much better down the stretch and I expect some big plays to happen this week. Patterson and Edelman will have to kick it up a notch but a STs score or big play will go a long way this week.

The Red Zone will of course, be of paramount importance this week. Kicking field goals in KC is a recipe for losing. They have to score like last week. In the first half the Pats were 5-5 in the red area. On the flip side, they have to manufacture some stops and force the Chiefs to settle for some threes or get a turnover or two.

When the Chiefs beat the Colts, I immediately pegged this as a loss. I thought the Pats would win a tough, close game at home against the Chargers and then go on the road and lose to KC.

But the performance last week, sold me that this team isn’t dead yet. They’ve found their stride and saved their best game of the year for the playoffs. That makes me feel that they can go in and win this game. It won’t be easy and will go down to the wire. But something tells me Brady pulls another big win out of his hat, and Bill Belichick dusts off that Super Bowl game plan he used against the Bills when he was with the Giants. They may dare the Chiefs to run all day long, but they’re going to get it done. Get ready to head to Atlanta.   Patriots 31-28

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

WATCH: Sights And Sounds, An Inside Look at the Patriots Divisional Round win over Chargers

Robert Alvarez
January 16, 2019 at 8:51 pm ET

The New England Patriots earned a 41-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers team this past Sunday to advance to their eighth consecutive AFC Championship game.

Relive the victory with behind the scenes audio and video captured by team cameras from Gillette Stadium.

Video courtesy: The New England Patriots

VIDEO: Fitzy Presents “Tom’s Plan”

Robert Alvarez
at 8:50 pm ET

New England Patriots Superfan Fitzy returns with a 2018 season music video entitled “Tom’s Plan”, a parody of the Drake hit single “God’s Plan”.

Check out the video below starring Francis from the NFL Fan Therapy series.

For more Fitzy football videos be sure to check out his official YouTube channel and