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Patriots vs Chiefs: AFC Title Tilt Odds and Prediction

In college I was forced to go through composition drills that required penning 2 fake stories and a real story, and everyone in class had the task of trying to figure out which was the real thing and which were bogus.

It’s sort of like that with this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Missouri.

In one narrative there’s the all-conquering and surefire New England Patriots, field goal underdogs at Arrowhead Stadium only because bookies are too chicken to face up to the evident truth. Modern NFL institution Tom Brady will flounce flamboyantly out of town on Monday after winning his 50th AFC Championship in a row, marking yet one more Super Bowl appearance in a career full of them.

In another, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs’ time to take over and shine. Patrick Mahomes, the young lion, is about to annihilate the old lion Tom Terrific and the NFL Athletes from Boston with help of Andy Reid’s space-age offense and a pass rush that could pierce the edge against Star Trek force fields.

But, of course, those are tall tales. The truth? As usual, it’s somewhere in between. Las Vegas is essentially being scientific – home-field advantage for the Chiefs is worth at least (-3) points in what otherwise seems to be an evenly-matched battle.

Bovada Sportsbook’s sign-up bonus gives you an AFC Championship Game wager on the house.

KC: Breaking the Playoff Malaise

There are those who never believed the Kansas City Chiefs would get this far in the playoffs, even though coach Andy Reid has arguably his best team since taking over the Red and Gold. The skipper’s 11-13 postseason record coming into 2018-19 was no salve on the fans’ fears.

Reid and the Chiefs responded by blowing away the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 in the AFC Divisional Round, playing exactly the kind of football the roster was designed to play. The offensive line ripped holes in the Colts’ front-7, allowing Damien Williams to gallop for 129 yards while a well-guarded Mahomes passed for 278 on 41 attempts. Defense isn’t a problem so long as the team is significantly ahead, and big veteran LB crumpled Andrew Luck with 2 sacks as Indy managed less than 300 total yards.

In some respects, the performance signified a more well-rounded game than Kansas City had been able to put on the field consistently all season.

Mahomes is fantastic, and he’s got elite weapons like WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce to flip the egg to the outside and down the middle. The team’s 13-4 record is no accident. But the defense looked feeble against the run at times in mid-autumn, and when the Chiefs’ own ground game couldn’t keep control of the ball (it’s hard to control the ball with a high-tempo style anyway), opponents scored points in bunches and put them in jeopardy of upsets.

In a 3-week span from mid-November to early December, the Chiefs played languidly in a 26-14 win over the poor Arizona Cardinals, lost to the L.A. Rams in an blockbuster prime-time shoot-out, and squeaked by the Raiders 40-33 after giving up 17 points to the last-place Silver and Black in the 4th quarter alone.

Tom Ticked 

The iconic New England QB ranted to the media that “everyone thinks we suck” after aiding his Patriots best the L.A. Chargers 41-28 in a Divisional playoff game that wasn’t really that close.

The Patriots finished 11-5 after 16 games, so any social media trolls who think 11 wins in the NFL equals “suck” are not worthy of the players’ attention and should be made to sashay their rear ends out on the field to try it for themselves before passing judgment.

Is there much substance to Brady’s insolent boasting? No, except that the future HOFer understands that a team needs extra fuel on the fire at this stage in the season.

There was no need for a spare tank last weekend. The signal-caller had a vintage day, going 33-of-44 against a besieged Charger defense. Former Georgia star Sony Michel had a 100+ yard day running the rock, and speedy DBs Devon and Jason McCourty were all over the field for the Pats.

Injuries, Weather, and a Mean Old Moon 

It’s forecast to be bone chillingly cold in Kansas City on Sunday, which should aid neither team competitively since they’re both used to the cold. The weather reports have been enough to help drive the Over/Under total down to (55.5).

Kansas City is dealing with a number of minor injuries that could hinder the squad’s depth. But there’s almost nothing but good news from this week’s updates. Eric Berry is a full contributor in practice while Sammy Watkins has fully recovered from a foot injury. The receiver snatched 6 catches in the win over Indianapolis.

The Chiefs have at last activated OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from injured reserve. Safety Ron Parker has been released as a result.

Similarly, the Patriots are pretty darn healthy in sum total. They just need to bring a healthy quantity of hoodies and hand-warmers to KC.

Not to be superstitious, but cold, wind and precipitation aren’t the only 3 cosmic factors that could have an effect on the AFC title scrum. A lunar eclipse could occur in the 4th quarter if the game drags on too long. Not only that, but the event is nicknamed the “Super Wolf Blood Moon” by astronomers for the unnatural hue that the celestial body will adopt.

Handicapping the AFC Title: My Moneyline Pick

The match-up is wildly volatile. The Pats know that KC’s weakness is run defense, and the Patriots have struggled to get to opposing QBs on the road. Those 2 variables put together means New England would be crazy not to try to be in command of the ball and the clock. Yet any NFL defense is able to stuff-up the run in the early going provided that the unit sells out to do so.

Not a single soul can be sure Rob Gronkowski isn’t reaching the phase-out stage of his career until he proves it in another big game. It’s been quite a while since Gronk lorded over the Shield.

Game management is not Reid’s strongest suit, and he could be outcoached by Bill Belichick…who we may even see call for the old I-formation on Sunday. But if it’s a freezing colt mist by the Missouri plains and the temperature drops below zero just as the Moon turns red in the sky? We could observe an atmosphere that neither coach has any real practice dealing with, thus making the coaching difference a wash.

I do know that in a toss-up type of meeting, the underdog is always the right pick.

Like taking Bayern Munich as a ‘dog in ‘19, the gambler can rest assured that he’s getting his wager’s worth in a team that is, for good reason, usually the favorite. Tom Brady has not been the underdog in a playoff or regular season game since 2014.

Take the Pats on the moneyline (+145) or ATS (-3).

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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