Patriots: New England Patriots (12-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (13-4)

Opening Drive: The Patriots travel to Arrowhead Stadium to battle the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots are 3 point underdogs which is rare given the Patriots playoff history but they were 3-5 on the road this season so it is understandable.

The Patriots have used the underdog role as motivation and while the rest of the country is sick of seeing them in the AFC Championship game, they feed off of that and embraced the hate.

Here are five keys for the Patriots if they want to advance to their 11th Super Bowl as an organization.

Five Keys for the Patriots

1. Replicate last week’s offensive game plan: The Patriots need to run the football effectively and they need to control Kansas City’s pass rush by being efficient in the passing game. That means more Sony Michel and more short to intermediate passes in the passing game.

Take what the Chiefs give you underneath. Expect a bunch of three step routes, quick five step routes, perimeter screens and check downs.

2. Get off to a good start: I know this is a generic key but it’s true. Getting off to a good start is paramount no matter where you are playing, home or away. It is especially important on the road. It is an easy way to take control of the game and get the crowd out of it.

3. Defending the RPO’s: The Chiefs RPO’s are lethal. Patrick Mahomes is proficient at running them especially because he has run them since high school. Disguising blitzes and bringing delay pressure is the key to effecting the quarterback’s ability to read and pull the ball on run, pass options.

4. Keep Tyreek Hill in check: Tyreek Hill has absolutely torched the Patriots in two career meetings. He is virtually indefensible. The Patriots need to find a way to account for Hill and slow him down. If they don’t, they are in for a long night.

5. Defense wins championship: The defense has to play at a championship level if the Patriots want to advance to the Super Bowl. We all know how explosive the Chiefs offense is, if the Patriots can find a way to slow them down, they will win.

Final Prediction: I am picking the Patriots. There is a reason why the Chiefs are hosting their first AFC Championship game at home. They have a history of gagging in home playoff games.

This game will be no different. The Patriots will control the clock by pounding the ball and they will play well enough on defense to win this game. Patriots win a tight but high scoring affair. Patriots 28 Chiefs 24