For Pete's Sake

This is what national media is saying about Chiefs ahead of AFC Championship Game

The last time Chiefs Patrick Mahomes faced the Patriots

The last time Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes faced the New England Patriots he played a better game in the second half. Mahomes talks about what he learned as the team prepares to face the Patriots again the AFC Championship Game.
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The last time Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes faced the New England Patriots he played a better game in the second half. Mahomes talks about what he learned as the team prepares to face the Patriots again the AFC Championship Game.

It’s only natural that when the NFL gets down to its Final Four, a lot of focus is placed on those teams.

That’s been the case with the Chiefs this week as national outlets from Sports Illustrated to the Wall Street Journal to USA Today have written about the Kansas City ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium.

Here is a sample of what people have said:

Nancy Armour of USA Today wrote a column about the Chiefs improved defense. Here is an excerpt: “If there’s anything that gives the Chiefs a chance to upend the New England Patriots on Sunday and reach their first Super Bowl in nearly 50 years, it’s the sudden transformation of their defense. The unit that was among the very worst in the league during the regular season shut down Andrew Luck and Indianapolis in last weekend’s divisional round.

“No first downs allowed until the final drive of the first half. No third-down conversions in the entire game. A total of 13 points.”

Andrew Beaton and Michael Salfino of the Wall Street Journal wrote a story with the headline, “The Kansas City Chiefs are football’s Golden State Warriors.” This is part of what they wrote: “(T)he Warriors didn’t just have a cutting-edge strategy. They also had a transcendent player to lead their offense: Stephen Curry. And the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes.

“Mahomes took an already productive offense to new heights. The Chiefs’ Alex Smith led the NFL in passer rating a year ago, but Mahomes’s arm and athleticism provided opportunities to completely blow open the game.”

Michael David Smith’s story on Pro Football Talk had the headline, “Justin’s Houston’s presence could swing Chiefs-Patriots rematch to Kansas City.” This is a snippet of what he wrote: “When the Chiefs and Patriots met in the regular season, the Chiefs were without their best pass rusher, Justin Houston. When they meet on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, Houston will be back.

“That could make a very big difference. Houston has seven sacks in his last five games, including two sacks in the playoff win over the Colts last weekend, and he’ll be eager to get to Tom Brady on Sunday.”

Jesse Palmer of the NFL Network said receiver Sammy Watkins might be the X-factor in the game:

Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated wrote a story with the headline, “Can the Patriots put up enough points to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City?” Here is an excerpt: “Last week Kansas City’s much-maligned defense, through steadily changing coverages, held the high-powered Colts to 21 yards on 12 plays over the game’s first 28 minutes. That built a 24–7 lead that the Chiefs’ pass rush protected in the second half. ...

“Even if the Chiefs are better at home, the Patriots, who hung 43 points on them in Week 6 at Gillette Stadium, can reason that their offensive approach should generate enough production.”

Kyle Brandt, speaking on “Good Morning Football” on the NFL Network, also believes Watkins could be the X-factor:

Gregg Rosenthal of picked one question facing the quarterbacks in the championship games. For the Chiefs it was: “What’ll Patrick Mahomes do after moving past Andy Reid’s scripted plays?” Here is part of what he wrote: “The Chiefs mostly survived their offensive lulls during the season because of their big leads. They had a stretch against the Colts where they didn’t score for five straight possessions, but it hardly mattered. The Patriots’ offense figures to give Mahomes less of a margin for error once they make defensive adjustments. While the expected frigid weather could hurt the passing game of both teams, it should hurt the Chiefs more because they are so reliant on the deep pass.”

Former Buccaneers/Jets defensive end Stephen White wrote a piece for SB Nation with the headline, “Dee Ford could be the secret weapon that gets the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.” Here is an excerpt: “I like Ford a lot as a pass rusher, but he usually leaves something to be desired for me when it comes to finishing off plays. On Saturday, however, he was hustling his ass off and making plays all over the damn field. He literally started the game off with a big play, a tackle for a 3-yard loss on Indianapolis running back Marlon Mack. He didn’t take his foot off the gas until the Chiefs pulled him off the field right at the end of the end of regulation when the game was already decided in Kansas City’s favor.”

Former NFL fullback Michael Robinson also thinks Tom Brady will have trouble with the Chiefs defense:

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From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.