The New England Patriots under Tom Brady are just 1-4 straight up and against the number over their last five road playoff games. Therefore, it’s not surprising that all of the best online sportsbooks, all of which can be seen at one convenient site, Sportsbook Review, have installed the Kansas City Chiefs as three-point home chalk across the board for Sunday’s AFC title game.
Although Kansas City has an 8-1 straight up mark at Arrowhead this year, the results have been far more pedestrian when factoring in the point spread, rendering a 5-4 ATS record. The formula for the oddsmakers who set the lines involves many factors, one of which is giving a three-point handicap to the home team. So, essentially, the experts view this matchup as a flip of the coin, a pick’em in the sports gambling parlance, on a neutral site but because the venue is Kansas City, the Chiefs are field goal favorites.
Had the Patriots not manhandled the Chargers from start to finish last week, this line would favor the Kansas City by at least 4 and quite possibly 4½, which would give added incentive to back the Pats for those who believe experience, and tons of it, matters. Let’s also not forget that the Patriots put the Chiefs back on their heels in the first meeting at Foxboro back in October when New England broke out to a 24-9 halftime lead. Patrick Mahomes shook off his jitters and helped Kansas City mount a comeback that fell just short in their 43-40 loss to the Patriots. It was a setback that many believed was the result of youth and inexperience versus the cunning and guile of the dynamic duo of Brady and Bill Belichick.
As poorly as the Patriots have performed on the road this season there is reason for optimism if you happen to be a New England fan. First, the defense that was so regularly torched in the early going has allowed just 14.6 points per game over their last six and has become a more impressive unit all the way around. Moreover, the brutal cold at Arrowhead on Sunday, forecast to be around eight degrees at kickoff without the wind chill factor, will undoubtedly have a negative impact on both offenses.
This is nothing but good news for the Patriots because they will not have to be chasing Mahomes and his relentless passing attack, trying to match him touchdown for touchdown. Rather, Brady will have the luxury of handing the ball off to Sony Michel, who cracked the Chiefs’ porous run-stop unit for 106 yards and a pair of trips into the end zone in their earlier meeting. And in fact, it was the same Sony Michel who delivered three touchdown runs against the Bolts for a total of 129 yards rushing last Sunday. He now has Rex Burkhead in the backfield, who missed the prior game against the Chiefs due to injury and is more of a power back which provides a much-needed change of pace for the Pats.
The best online sportsbooks, found at Sportsbook Review, are fairly much in lockstep in posting a 54½ total on this one. The early line was a whopping three points higher but the threat of an arctic blast chilling the stadium and slowing the offenses has brought this total down. That’s unfortunate because we were siding on the under to begin with because we see the Patriots running the ball, chewing up the clock, and keeping Mahomes off the field as much as possible. Nevertheless, it will not deter us from backing New England as a live dog and under in this AFC title tilt.
Final Score: Patriots 27, Chiefs 23