It has been a weird week in New England to say the least. The issue that caught the most press was Chandler Jones completely losing his mind on drugs and being hospitalized. While that certainly is distracting, the most important issue facing the Patriots is health of both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Gronkowski visited the hospital this week for a much different reason than Chandler Jones, as he had to get an injection in his knee in order for him to even play tonight. Edelman hasn't played since week 10 against the Giants when he injured his foot. Dez Bryant had the same injury and he wasn't nearly as effective when he made his return, so who knows how effective Edelman will be.
The Chiefs are also dealing with some injury questions to important players. Justin Houston and Jeremy Maclin are both game-time decisions. It seems unlikely that Jeremy Maclin will even play given that he suffered a high-ankle sprain last week. Even if he does play, will he just be out there as a decoy? Certainly he will not be able to be the playmaker he was for the Chiefs all season with the injury. Tamba Hali is also injured for the Chiefs but the odds are that he will play. Still, the question remains if any of these players will be effective tonight versus the Patriots.
If you asked me two months ago who would win this game, I would have picked the Patriots in a blowout. Back when the Patriots were healthy and 10-0, they seemed unbeatable. Things have changed drastically in New England and they have lose 4 out of their last 6 games to close out the regular season. The Chiefs on the other hand have won 11 games in a row and defeated the Texans last week in the Wild Card round of the playoffs rather easily. Granted, that was because Brian Hoyer pooped his pants and refused to wipe. Yet, you'd be a fool to discount 11 games in a row. That is hard to do in the NFL and quite frankly I don't know how the Chiefs did it but they did.
I don't think this particular game will come down to Tom Brady vs Alex Smith. I think both quarterbacks are limited by the pieces that are surrounding them at the moment. Most likely, the team that simply doesn't shoot themselves in the foot will win this game. Andy Reid isn't exactly known for his playoff success and the ability to grasp clock-management towards the end of the game. I really feel like the Chiefs should win this game but I think they are going to lose it by themselves. Whether it be a wasted timeout, a botched field goal snap or an inexplicable turnover near the end of the game, the Chiefs will cost themselves the game. The narrative after this game will be that the Chiefs had the game in their hands and let it slip away.
New England Patriots 21
Kansas City Chiefs 20
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